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suliman

Map in spacegame? How to avoid all-open travel and "boring" worlds?

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Hi

I have a ww2 naval pirate game that im tempted to move into a scifi setting for more freedom (gameplay- and contentwise). Problem is the gameworld will be too open. Game consists of travelling and visiting stations/towns on "the map" and combat in a seperate screen once you engage someone on the map

 

In ww2 this worked fine, you travel on the seas of Earth and visit cities etc. Islands and continents are there, which makes travelling fun.

 

But in a "space setting", locations will just be dots with open space around them. Makes travelling a bit less engaging. Any ideas how to solve this?

 

Scale should be rather small. Locations to visit should be small outposts or stations, rather then whole planets. You and your crew of say 100 men should be able to influence and raid locations.

 

I could even keep using Earth, and use hoovercrafts or scifi (with shields and lasers ) "watercrafts" but im not sure i like this idea... (however i like the idea of real maps!)

Edited by suliman

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Who said that space was empty :)

With a reasonable scale you could put a lot of things in space which could add some originality in your game. For exemple, when you travel from Earth to mars you first have to go through the location of the Third Great Space War biggest battle. Many broken ships are floating aimelessy around, from little fighters to big destroyer.

Then you have to pass through the remains of the gigantic worldsize space cruiser the Marie Agness, one of the most famous cruiser, but it was shot down during its first travel. Be careful when flying in the big corridor of this empty carcass.

Etc...

With imagination and screwing a little the physics I think you can make nice scenery in space :)

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Another alternative would be to allow FTL (faster-than-light) travel in particularly open areas of space where there really is nothing, or at least nothing significant (so you don't have to suffer the boredom of waiting, like the boats in classic EverQuest). When you approach objects with a significant mass/gravity well (asteroids, planets, suns, etc.), FTL is travel not possible--and if you get close enough, you'll get pulled out of hyperspace.

 

This could really make boring space travel a lot more interesting. For example: Let's say you have a map with known and charted planets/objects. You want to cross a large stretch between two systems which appears on your map to just be empty space. You make the FTL jump, but halfway through you get pulled out of hyperspace by the gravity well of a massive planetoid/star/etc. which wasn't on the charts. So then you can explore it, etc....

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In our solar system there are 88 bodies that are 200 miles in diameter or bigger.  Add a few space stations,  asteroid mining sites and derilicts and you already have a pretty crowded place in just one solar system.

Edited by Buster2000

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Old space games (eg elite, X3) solved this either by introducing a fast forward option(time) or a jump-drive(speed) or something similar. In this case you travel x2,x4,x8,x16... faster than normal.  As soon as the game detects some event of interest (planet,space station, spacecraft,..) the time or drive slowest down to normal speed.

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Nebulae can also offer interesting options. They could obscure sensors, play havoc with propulsion systems, super-charge your shields, etc. Think of the battle in The Wrath of Khan with the Enterprise and Reliant in the nebulae.

You may want to also look into submarine warfare and how they take advantage of thermoclines and the ocean floor to play hide-and-seek with ships and other submarines. Perhaps that would give you some ides as to how to make space more interesting.

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hoovercrafts make me think that you are going to have battles between vacuum cleaners.  Which is actually kind of neat.

 

What scale / view are you using for travel?  Are you thinking of a high level, abstracted map, like, early Fallout world travel or Indiana Jones style dotted line stuff?  Or is this more like you are in-cockpit or startflight style actually moving all in the same view as you would use for combat or whatever?  How you present travel can really vary.

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I'm dealing with this same problem to some extent. The direction I settled on is to aim for a more "arcadey" feel, rather than realistic. Dodging asteroids, avoiding flying into stars, combined with a much quicker (and much less realistic) physics system takes some of the drudgery out of travel. I'm basically trying to make the travel itself a bit of a mini-game. It simply wasn't fun to go from point A to point B. So, I went about changing that :P Even if your game isn't physics based, you can add in things like random events (pirate attacks, ship breaking down, aliens beaming on board, etc) to break up the monotony. And, if all else fails, you can always ask yourself if you even need  to incorporate travel time. If there is no way for you to incorporate interesting travel, I'd suggest just having you insta-travel to the destination. Click and "poof" you're there :P

 

Not knowing the specifics of your game design it's a bit difficult to really say what your best solution is, but if traveling between two points is a large part of the game, I say make it interesting or scrap it entirely :)

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I would go for FTL drive which effect the fabric op space time like compress it in front and stretch it on the back. But it's a radiant effect as it influence a large zone at the back and in front. How ever this means the much more bending of space time need powerful big huge antimatter drive and for correct coursing in this zone of bending there need no heavy mass like space craft near by as it distorted the zone and also the direction you go.

 

So going into large void a big heavy  FTL drive space craft could go very large amount the speed off light.

 

where smaller engine influencing smaller zone could be used between station from other planet to other planet orbit.

 

ships control and sensor the fabric of space bending so turn down the effect as a automatic speed limit. And the limit of the engine size

 

To make some thing small feel big is make thing slow and view distance short.

 

Making something big feel small is up the speed and far sighting

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My solution would be: yes, space is big, but your paths are severely constrained. For example, but long-haul travel there's hyperspace gates/portals/whatever. This means that people are forced to chokepoints and there can be a lot of action at those chokepoints, e.g. raiding, police, battles, trade, etc. Then put tight limits on in-system fuel reserves, which forces the player to use one of x ship AI suggested routes based on their destination. 

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