Docking Success. And Happy Thanksgiving!
Hey Folks! I managed to dock today! After a string of fixes, I was finally able to dock on that voyage from BCER to MTRS. It just took some adjustment burns at the tail end of the trip.
Early in the day, I focused on fixing the plotter station bugs seen in yesterdays video. (Well, technically, I did my business taxes first, but...snooze.) Anyway, the first issue was that the station (diamond) marker wasn't showing the correct position. Which turned out to be related to the fact I disabled some rendering flags on it to keep the display tidy.
Then, I had to add some new code to show the station's future projected positions, since up until now, I only needed to do that for planetoids and the player ship.
After that, I had to figure out why the course plotter wasn't aiming at the future position of the station when plotting a course. And again, this was related to my rendering flags from before (it was skipping checking anything without the flag).
Finally, there was a bug that prevented me from plotting courses while docked. (Important for gauging necessary fuel and supplies for the trip!)
Once those were sorted, I pushed off from Ceres Station, and fast-forward a bit to find myself near(ish) Tharsis Landing on Mars! I have to do 1-2 adjustment burns at the end to get close enough to dock each time, but once I'm close, I can go through the same menu to get clearance, then line-up the docking rings for a clamp engage. Nice!
I'm a bit concerned at the adjustment burns issue. It's not a game breaker, but it stinks to carefully plot a course and end up thousands of km from where you thought you'd end up. I seem to overshoot my projections each time, and I'm trying to figure out why.
I also discovered a bug with the pushback/undocking code, which didn't calculate my pushback vector correctly. This caused my ship to sink into Mars when taking-off. not good :) Fortunately, the fix just involved basing that vector on the station's parent gravity object (usually a planet, moon, or star), and giving it enough "oomph" to escape (50km/h worked on Ceres, but doesn't cut it on Mars).
Completing a trip like this really energized me. I started seeing all sorts of things to work on next. Stuff to make it more game-y, which is a good sign. Some items on that short list include:
- Fix the bug preventing AI from opening exterior airlocks to docked stations/ships.
- Add some sort of alarm system to notify the player/crew when the ship is nearing destination, or a waypoint maneuver. (Basically, warn the player when the ship needs more input, since they won't be at the nav console all the time.)
- Dust off the AI interaction code to see how I can make interesting drama happen during the trip.
- Work on some sort of character backstory generator, to help with said drama. (E.g. known enemies, allies, and other people likely to push/pull the player around the System)
- Something to do at the stations.
- Life support and other systems besides power and fuel.
Still a lot to tackle. Probably the biggest win in that list is the AI interaction stuff, but it probably also requires several other systems to be working first. On the other hand, something like the fix for item #1 is a small improvement, but faster to do. And likely a step towards more major systems like #5, and possibly the others. I'll have to give that some thought over the weekend.
And speaking of, tomorrow is Thanksgiving here in America. So I'll be taking tomorrow and Friday off for a long weekend. Happy Thanksgiving to you, if that's on your calendar too. And even if not, hope you enjoy the weekend. See you Monday!