Space Flight Mechanics – Check!

The first phase of development on the Flight Mechanics is now complete, and I have to say, I’m pretty chuffed with the results!

Let me begin by saying that this doesn’t mean ‘Flight Mechanics’ is completed and now final. I’ve implemented support for the various flight models, and established a fair number of parameters to control each of them. These, in turn, will be exposed through the UI to the player in various forms, allowing you to tweak your perfect setup. I’m intending (hoping) to set this up so you can have a flight config _per_ vessel that you own – as each will fly and handle differently, with different systems. They’ll all come pre-configured, of course, but to get the very best out of your new ship with it’s modified drive system… you will want to hit the config panel 🙂

Supported (at this time) are;

  • Newtonian & Non-newtonian flight modes
  • Analogue keyboard control
    • longer key press = proportional increase in thrust
  • Axis-delta Mouse control
    • change mouse position to change orientation
  • Relative Offset mouse control
    • cursor distance from screen centre used to provide constant orientation change
  • Rate of turn
    • derived from vessel mass and size (smaller vessels turn faster than larger vessels)
  • Thrust based drive system
    • Newton’s 2nd Law : F = ma
  • Inertial Compensation System
    • reduces the effective mass of the vessel, improving acceleration and turning abilities
  • Optional Flight Aid – Artificial ‘Drag’
    • Brings velocity back to zero over time when no thrust is applied
  • Line of Sight velocity (Non-newtonian)
    • redirects current velocity and acceleration vectors along vessels principal axis (‘twitch’ based flight)

All the above are configurable, and apply to a greater or lesser extent to every flight model, depending on the mass of the ship, it’s moment of inertia, etc.

Now I’ve put the systems in place, I’m going to ‘let it lie’ for a while before the next step – balancing. The reason? If I go ahead and do balancing now, then find I need to change something, I have to do the balancing again – plus there’s no saying the above is ‘final’ anyway 🙂 You’ll notice the glaring absence of ‘Joystick Control’ for a start!

If I let it lie and settle a bit, then I can have more confidence the balancing will stand the test of time. The balancing itself will entail setting up a vessel config for a fighter, a hauler, and a capital ship – basically the minimum, medium and maximum configurations. That means establishing a vessel rig for each ‘class’ and then flying about, tuning, flying about, tuning, flying about, tuning, ad nauseum, until no more tweaks are needed.

This is all in line with the intended ‘modability’ as well – everything that I can possible make modable, will be made modable. Vessel flight configurations are an obvious candidate, as are the changes any equipment upgrades will provide. And with that said, that means ensuring these modifiers can’t be abused to make a Capital ship fly like a fighter.

The minimum, medium and maximum configurations mentioned above, will be used to establish a valid range or spectrum of parameter values, so the modifiers can be restricted to sensible ranges.

The eventual intent is to provide a first playable – even if it’s just a ‘get feedback on the flight mechanics’… sadly, given the adhoc dev time, I can’t promise a ‘when’ – only that there will eventually be one to get your hands on 🙂


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Author: Mak View all posts by

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