Scanners, Local Derelicts, Plotter Precision, and OOO

Hey Folks! Some pretty significant improvements to the plotter today, plus derelict spawning fixes, and scanner research. And a heads-up that I'll be OOO tomorrow and Thursday.

First order of business was to get the derelict spawning to honor radial limits instead of cartesian ones, so we could spawn around a thing in a circle. You can see that in today's screenshot, where we have a couple dozen derelicts spawned around K-Leg. They can also track a parent object's position, so it'll be possible to use this in the future for clusters of debris or asteroids that follow a predictable path.

While doing this, I fixed an issue where the ship registration IDs remained on screen even if the ship was culled. And so far, performance still seems much improved on the plotter. Especially when viewing less than the full System.

Next, wen attempting to test starting a new game near K-Leg, I noticed that my ship had trouble plotting a course to nearby ships. This was again due to precision, only this time, it was with the crosshair coordinates. Fixing those resulted in much more accurate course plots, to the point where I could end up within 1m of a target ship! (Which might actually qualify as a collision.)

I still noticed a bug in velocity precision, though, which sometimes resulted in drifting off after the course finishes. So I increased celestial body and ship velocities to double precision, as well. As of now, things are behaving much nicer.

Another chunk of time went into scanner research. This was partly because it'll eventually come up, as we add on-board systems like sensors and transponders. However, it also becomes relevant when we want to speed up rendering of the whole system when zoomed-out. Rendering all of the ships in the System gets expensive fast. Fortunately, that level of awareness is also fairly unrealistic.

I'm not sure I'm going to implement any of this scanner stuff just yet, but it helps to have a rough idea of what might be coming. And so far, I think it means we're going to have a few levels of info with respect to other ship contacts.

Roughly speaking, we should have fairly solid and current info on nearby ships that are either actively thrusting or have their transponders on. Nearby might mean something like <20M km, plus or minus.

Further out, we would be able to see fusion thrusters at quite a long range. Probably a few AU with the naked eye, and anywhere in the System with sensors looking in the right spot. But that info is going to be vastly outdated when we get it, and is really only useful for tracking a long-range target. Some mix of passive and active sensors will tell us about these.

Celestial objects will be plotted in real-time, since we can predict them reliably with almost no error.

So it's starting to look like we'll have crowded plots near our ship (depending on amount of nearby traffic), and sparse plots for the rest of the System. And some UI for controlling our sensor activity to be determined later. I'm excited about getting into that, though, as there seem to be lots of opportunities for fun toys and interesting information awareness!

Lastly, I will be out of the office tomorrow and Thursday. I'll be back to normal Friday. Just taking a couple days off to recharge. See you all then!

Tags: Ostranauts


Rovlad's picture

The orbit should be jagged, not a perfect circle (it didn't have aeons to stabilize itself like e.g. Saturn rings did). And some of this stuff is even being tethered by cables, if I remember the art piece right.

dcfedor's picture

Realistically, I agree. An artificial station-keeping "orbit" is going to be non-smooth, and maybe won't even orbit at all. Ditto for the tethers. I'd expect slow drifting with periodic corrections, maybe a spike once per week.

We might also see clumping if the hulks are massive enough.

In practice, and for now, a static position is really cheap for the cpu, and doesn't look too weird (especially since there are no orbital tracks rendered for ships). And when the time comes, periodic "jerks" in position might be an interesting thing to add.

E.g. the junk drifts really slowly, and once in a while, a hulk will hard "bounce" on it's tether, causing a hazard for explorers.

Dan Fedor - Founder, Blue Bottle Games