Hey Citizens! We have the first episode of 10 for the Designers for you today, including a transcript from /u/Nocturnal_Nick!
Special thanks to Nocturnal Nick for allowing us to feature his hard work creating this transcript.
Regular Intro and Thanks
Tidbit: Introduction with Dan Tracey (DT) and Calix Reneau (CR) [Nocturnal_Nick: Uh oh…] who are lead and technical designers respectively.
– On to the Questions! –
Usuegi Asks: Will Player organizations be able to advertise through in game newspapers or billboards? It could also help to add immersion, and make player orgs seem like a part of the PU.
“DT: We’re looking at doing the Hull series concept, and one of the setups that’ll be shown will be external panels that’ll be setup like billboards, with clan-tags or whatever. So one of the things we want to do in the PU is actually allow players to take on these jobs, saying “I’m travelling from Terra, to say, Stanton, and because of that time spent in space, I’ll have these advertising spaces available”. Some in-game organisations/companies might pay for that advertising space for that time the ship has spent in space. We’re looking at doing this for the racing part of the game as well, and the paint system that we’ve been making right now will allow this from players. So mainly for the Hull series at the moment, but we’ll expand that in future.”
“CR: Yeah, you should be able to visually represent your organisation, and also get some of that sweet ad revenue as well.”
Aech Asks: I am wondering what you guys are planning on doing for new players as in tutorials.
“DT: We’re looking at setting up one for Arena Commander in, I believe, 1.1, is the UK designers are setting up a tutorial level that helps you get used to ship controls etc in free-flight mode. It’ll set you up with “babies first steps” in AC, without throwing you into the deep end and expect you to know everything about ship. Even for the veterans of the game, who might not know about all the fine tuning of things like power setups etc. We want even new players to get used to and learn quickly.”
“CR: For the veterans out there, you won’t have to worry about it being forced or anything, it’s there as an option, you don’t HAVE to go through it.”
“DT: We’ll probably add a lot more features as they’re introduced into AC and SQ42 etc as time goes on.”
TigerHeart Asks: This discussion always comes up in the forums and what we are wondering is if planets, moons, etc will have properly simulated orbits in each star system?
“CR: I have no idea, I’ve been stuck inside the ships, mostly in cargo stuff!”
“DT: I actually developed the early parts of the star-map, for the original prototyping of the PU. The prototype is there, though it’s completely broken right now, but it’s there and it did work. We have talked about this a lot with Austin and the PU team about how we’re going to instance out certain sections of star systems so that was you have a local area which is instanced to a particular server, to set up a realistic scale. What we wanted to do is to extrapolate from the star system, so a bit like a top down view of a star system showing planets orbiting at different rates, then bring that into these individual instances realistically. This is going to be a headache to make, but we are going to do it, or at least try to, we’ll let you know when we have more specific information. Right now it’s a lot of setting up the back end servers, implementing double precision, but we haven’t been able to thoroughly test beyond that, we’re working on and looking at jump points with more priority. I don’t want to say it’s definitely possible, but we’re looking into it and we’ll let you know as it comes up.”
Tboneman Asks: Are you guys planning on doing anything with gimballed weapons (class 2 weapons and the like) in regards to using the joystick? Right now it seems like the weapons that are considered class 2 or class 4 are stuck just straight ahead for joystick users.
“CR: Yeah, we’re definitely looking at this one, I’ve actually been looking for quite a while, even back at 0.9 I was working on a system where joystick users are given control over the gimballed weapons using a hat on the top of the stick to guide the aim around. Rather than a mouse control where you’d aim within a grid, the hat would be more of a radial system. I actually got it working, but not in a reasonable time for release. It didn’t feel right though, and in AC you want to feel like your actions are directly translated to actions in the ship, not that they’re being interpreted somehow. Since then we’ve been looking at alternatives, like the look ahead mode, hooking up look-mode to those controls etc.”
“DT: Really the basic implementation of that is trivial, hooking those controls up, but it’s something that we’d need to provide customisation for etc etc, so really the question is when will the producers have enough time to schedule something like this for the designers/coders etc to tackle. Controls is a big concern of ours, and we’re addressing each one at a time. There’s just an incredible amount of work that we need to put in to other parts first.”
Spike OZ Asks: Given that as described in Bug Smashers, missile explosive damage in being absorbed by the shields to various degrees as the weapon is apparently activating on contact with the shield, does this mean that the damage from explosive cannon rounds is or will be mitigated by the shields also.
“CR: Yes. Shield behavours are getting a whole pass, and one of those is setting up your shields to being better at handling splash damage vs direct damage, or energy vs particle etc. These are all things that will directly affect it. That said, missiles exploding on impact are only if they’re strike missiles, proximity missiles will explode if they get close enough and start to lose range, so depends on the missile.”
“DT: And of course in future patches, you’ll see different weapon types and explosion types, so keep checking back and see how the new guns or ammunition change their damage based on how shields are configured etc. You might see a new type of gun in 1.1 that has interesting effects too….”
Fenrilh Asks: What if I shoot at a missile while still not launched? Does a missile, targeted by a shooter, have a chance to explode on its own ship?
“DT: What we’re looking at doing (and what Chris Roberts wants to happen) is that if you shoot at a missile that’s not armed or activated it’s not going to explode out of nowhere, it’ll just disintegrate, breaking apart harmlessly. But when it IS armed and activated, we’ll have a visualisation that indicates that, maybe a light on the nose that’s visible at close distances. With the hornet for example, you know they’re being armed as the missile doors come down, and if you hit those while the shields are down, then yes, they will explode.”
“CR: As much as we love explosions, it seems like it would be a huge recipe for disaster to fly a Freelancer MIS if any explosion near them would cause a chain reaction, seems like it’d be a short flight.”
“DT: Yeah, just as a tip, try not to put your missiles in hard-points near your power-plant. Just sayin’.”
Spaceof Asks: How do you guys plan to address the way turrets act? In a lot of other games, if a tank/ship/airplane isn’t stationary, using the turrets becomes a really big hassle. Now, add 6 degrees of freedom, how do you guys plan to make turrets effective/fun to play? It’s frustrating to not hit anything, you know?
“DT: I guess in a roundabout way, you’re asking if I’m riding on a tank, in the turret and my driver is rotating around my turret has to follow him. There was a turret setup in Crysis where the turret kept its rotation relative to the world rather than the vehicle. This is something we ran into when we first implemented the turrets in the Constellation for the gamescon livestream. When we were in the turret and the pilot is flying around in all 6 degrees, it was a huge pain in the ass to track your targets.”
“CR: I think it was about 4-5 days after getting the turrets working in the Constellation before someone got a kill using them.”
“DT: As soon as Paul got a hold of it he said he had to change that right now. He actually passed that job off to Mark to do, but he got it working so that the view kinda tracked the world a little as best as was possible with the movement of the ship. Best example would probably be the Halo’s warthog turret. That’s something that we’ve already looked at, and we’re improving the turret system as we refactor the seat code.”
Dalphon Asks: Can you turn off your ship in space and park it on an Asteroid for example, making it non-detectable except visually?
“DT: Probably signals.”
“CR: Yeah, we’ve got our signal system set up so that if you’re not emitting IR or EM radiation and you’ve only got your cross-section (visual) then you’ll be much harder to find. And if you’re really close to something like an asteroid with a large and noisy cross-section, then you’ll be really hard to find with all the noise that creates. Which you’d expect! You could easily miss if a ship was there, that asteroid is bumpy. A resounding yes, in sum.”
Dostro Asks: I’m wondering if there are any plans on iterating on the thrust power of the maneuvering thrusters, I miss the sliding about and dislike that there’s a magic button that allows me to turn on a dime instantly. I miss the old concept of being able to rotate the ship and then use the main thruster to truly effect a quick vector change.
“CR: There are definitely some changes coming to thrusters etc. Those things are currently being looked at to bring them more in line with how our component system is shaping up, now that we’ve actually started getting it out into players hands, seeing players swapping around weapon load outs etc. We’re looking at how these systems will hold up to that experimentation. We’re looking at manoeuvring thrusters deriving the majority of their power from the main engine. To have a functional spacecraft you really need to have comparable thrust on all axis. Imagine having only large thrusters in one direction, sure you could get up to speed, but good luck stopping. To make up for that, we’ve made the thrusters to have much larger capacity than you’d expect give their size. As a consequence, if you lose your engine, you can still fly pretty well at the moment. We’re looking to rectify that by making the extra power come from the main engine, so if that’s lost, you’ll have fairly weak thrusters and slide around a bit. As far as controls and manoeuvrability goes, I think we need to wait to see what cargo does to the mix, because a heavy cargo ship will definitely not handle the same as something like the hornet that was designed to be a dogfighter.”
“DT: Since now everything added is adding mass to your ship, you’ll really want to examine where things are placed. If you’re placing your heavy cargo near your centre of gravity, or storing a lot of ammo for your ship’s guns etc it’ll have an effect. Even if you’ve got a heavy cannon on one wing of your hornet and a light repeater on the other, the ammo storage and additional weight of that cannon will throw your flight model off a bit. Definitely something that needs considering.”
“CR: Symmetry is going to matter, because these engines create so much torque. There’s even a bug where the 350r at the moment can lose 1 engine, which KILLS acceleration, not because of the reduced capacity per-se, but because that offset engine creates so much rotational torque it has to operate at like, 5% capacity in order to be compensated for.”
“DT: IFCS is saving you in that case!”
Sam Corwin Asks: Currently the weapons in each weapons group fire in a linked fashion, or simultaneously. Will there eventually be an option to UN-link the weapon firing so that one cannon fires and then the other? For an example of this, in X-wing you could fire one, two, or all four of your lasers at a time?
“DT: Basically this comes down to your weapon-grouping. If you wanted to set up a chain-fire system, Zane is looking at setting up grouping for more customisation. You could have each of these weapons in multiple groups so you could fire them with whatever interval you wanted to. With these weapon groups you might have a chain-fire or semi-auto mode on each of these groups, so you could have an alt-fire on one that’s a primary fire on the other etc. These are things that are being looked at and expanded upon as we go, but it’s all about setting up the usability, so how you’re setting them up, how you’re firing them, and we’re looking at systems that can activate or deactivate even other parts of your ship. Other things we’re looking at are weapon add-ons, things like additional batteries, or camera systems so you could switch to that camera system etc. It’s not directly related to the ship, but for the item itself. But yes, we’re going to expand upon the system, which applies to missiles too, so they might interface with your ships avionics etc. You ships avionics might be a military grade one, where maybe there are more weapon grouping options available, or better locking systems, or automated defence systems upgraded to track different targets etc.”
Thanks and Extro