Newton, or Not Newton, that, is the question…

Now, this may be a dangerous combination… Newtonian and Non-newtonian flight models? In the same game?

Well, if I get it wrong… yes, very dangerous! It could be horrifically unfair, leaving Newtonian vessels at the mercy of far more manoueverable Non-newtonian vessels.

Consider the considerably awesome Independence War, which very doggedly set out to implement Newtonian space flight mechanics. Seriously, if you’ve never played this, go buy it! Worth every penny. Golden oldie now, but not forgotten!

Now grab a few ships from say Freespace, and throw them into the same game. Whups! I-War ships lose big time!

So how to counter the obvious combat superiority of Non-newtonian ‘arcade-like’ flight vs realistic Newtonian? Well, clearly there have to be trade-offs. I’ve yet to iron out such things fully, but immediate ideas spring to mind. Newtonian vessels could have more powerful shields & weaponry, as they expend less energy via Inertial Compensators, they can afford heavier armour, and so on. No doubt this may spark some interest & debate, and nothing is set in stone yet, other than I want Dom to be fun, challenging and rewarding to play – for both fighters and capital ship owners, and both flight models.

Most space-‘sim’ games (IMHO) deal with this by making the flight experience very ‘aerodynamic’, because this is more familiar, and more comfortable. It doesn’t break the ‘principle of least astonishment’ for the game player, i.e. the typical player expects planes to bank as they turn, to do loop-de-loop manouevers or wide sweeps to perform u-turns, etc. In space, there is no medium of friction (of any worth) to allow aerodynamic manouevers like these. All you have is thrust, and whether you can withstand the g-forces created by accelerating in a given direction. Of course, given enough thrust and plenty of thrusters, and low enough speeds, you could effect aerodynamic style movement – effectively faking the resistance caused by atmospheric drag by providing the necessary counter-thrust. But, why bother when _not_ faking it is far more effective for space combat, and provides a completely different flight experience?

Well, the reason why is people want to enjoy playing the game 🙂 Not everyone is into spending six months learning how to fly a real space craft, but then – plenty of people _are_… I want to try and please both camps (to increase the games appeal/user base), and therein lies a danger. By aiming to please both, you may end up pleasing none…

Chances are there will be a dividing line, with smaller lighter craft using Non-newtonian movement, and larger heavier craft using Newtonian. No one expects a Capital ship to turn on a dime and flit about like a may-fly, but a figther needs to be snappy and responsive. This immediately provides a nice design conceit to separate gameplay concerns, but leaves a ‘grey area’ in the middle, where mid-sized craft (haulers, traders, cruisers) can mix and match. Here then, would be the mainstay of ‘personal choice’. If a Newtonian Gas Hauler is not for you then pick a Non-newtonian Ice Hauler, and so on. Larger vessels will also be less ‘hands on’ flight anyway, and more instruction oriented. Who wants to pull ‘left’ on a Capital ship, and wait for it to slowly drag itself about? Far better to tell it ‘turn left’ and then let it get on with it and then see to weapons control.

How these control systems pan out, and what vessels they may apply to will become apparent in the fullness of time. Right now, my concerns are more in getting both flight models in place, and then tinkering with them to see how they feel. If they sit right, then the next challenge will be working with the NPC logic and getting them to work with either model as they go about their own business.

When it comes to it, gameplay balancing is going to prove… interesting.

BTW – reasons for the above may become clearer when I reveal my plans for space combat… which, if I pull them off, as far as I am aware, have not been done in any game to date, and would be a game changer – hopefully a good one!


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Author: Mak View all posts by

5 Comments on "Newton, or Not Newton, that, is the question…"

  1. Cornflakes_91 July 15, 2016 at 10:59 pm -

    whooops, i have longer been away than i thought! lots of blogposts!

    yay book \o/

    but to be more on topic:
    some videos that may be interesting to watch for the whole pseudo-newtonian movement mechanics

  2. Mak July 16, 2016 at 3:12 pm -

    Great link Cornflakes – INovae are inspiring that’s for sure 🙂

    Hmm, a similar debug/dev view may help on my side as well. Though my scene structure is different, it would make for a good ‘devlog’.

    I will put some actual ‘in-game’ flight videos up at some point showing the various flight models, but I need something more interesting than HUD velocity markers to fly around first 😉

  3. Cornflakes_91 July 17, 2016 at 4:59 pm -

    I dont want videos, i want to play with it 😛

  4. Mak July 17, 2016 at 5:47 pm -

    Yeh, I know 🙁 Video’s is all I got atm.

    It’ll happen… preferably before all of Earth’s Uraniu m decays to Hydrogen!

    Just been knocking up a 1km cubic station to fly about, so now I can start setting up a basic flight rig 🙂

  5. Cornflakes_91 July 18, 2016 at 8:12 am -

    yay flying \o/

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