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Space terrain and anomalies

#1
Back in the day, freelancer had many “anomaly” fields which had a couple of different effects (usually summing up to the player ship getting damaged)

the effects ranged from localised “bubbles” of gas that exploded when a ship came close over radiation fields that stretched over whole systems to sensor dampening effects in nebulas.

so how to replicate such occurrences in Limit Theory effectively?

i was personally thinking about using a three-level system to define “anomaly” fields.

the first, and highest, layer is the “area” (green in my graphics)
the next lower layer are “groups” (blue)
and the lowest are “sources” (red)

areas encompass the whole volume in which anomalies belonging to that field can occur.
they are used to define the rough position and volume of anomaly fields and are used as zone identifiers if they occur on their own.
they can also be encompassed by general zones, such as, for example, asteroid fields.
so the anomaly field would stretch over a portion (or all of) the asteroid field.
areas also contain groups

groups are, as their name suggests, groupings of instances.
they are distributed through an area and are intended to give a feeling of “consistency” in fields.
giving rise to higher and lower density zones or “hotspots” in which the anomalous activity is stronger than elsewhere in the field.
“avoid this area in special, there the anomalies are denser than anywhere else”
groups could maybe overlap? area filling ones for “base density” with local grops modifying local density? :think:
(im personally a bit unsure about groups. maybe density functions instead?)

sources are the entities which cause the actual effect.
they can be points for localised effects like exploding gas bubbles, small bubbles for radiation pockets or even fill the whole group/area for larger area effects like sensor dampening or radiation areas.

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  • the first one is a general anomaly field, multiple groups containing multiple sources each, could be a gas bubble field ala freelancer, with multiple hotspots
  • the second one is a more homogenous field, a single group containing all the sources of the field. asteroid field littered with radioactive ores, causing radiation spots.
  • the last one is a pretty special field, it contains a single source in a single group. this could be a sensor dampening effect attached to a nebula, reducing sensor effectivity inside
thoughts? critique?
Last edited by Cornflakes_91 on Tue Mar 01, 2016 12:44 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#2
What do these areas add to gameplay? Do these areas become annoying to the player because they restrict where the player can go? Do explorers enjoy finding these types of areas, if so why, is there profit in it? What's the normal rate of hull damage that my ship would receive in the green zones compared to the blue? Is it possible to clean up the red spots with special decontamination equipment?
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#3
they prevent terrain from getting dull.

if a nebula has no effect on the game, why introduce it?

it would also allow for factions who know the terrain to have an advantage, if you know where the anomalies are, guide your enemies into them where they have "low ground" while you avoid the negative effects gaining "high ground".
which is not possible without the terrain modifying the behaviour of ships.

for explorers it would mostly bring variation even in completely inhabitated areas, when every asteroid field is the same harmless place as all the others, it would get pretty dull, i found it interesting in freelancer trying to find safe routes through radioactive areas.

the green and blue zones do nothing on their own.
all they do is provide containers for the red zones which affect the surroundings
beyond that, balancing constant is open for balancing in the game.


and removability should depend on the class of anomaly.

a star may generates a spherical anomaly for the radius at which its radiation damages ships.
a nebula/dust cloud will obscure sensor readings as long as it exists.

but others may be removable, or not.
depends fully on the cause and type of anomaly
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#4
Okay, so these are just additional ideas that may or may not damage the hull of a ship. It sounds like they can cause visibility and sensor errors (such as nebula), radiation and other damage (from a dying star/black hole) among other things. I see how these might be fun, but if they occur too frequently I can also see how they could be very annoying.
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#5
BFett wrote:Okay, so these are just additional ideas that may or may not damage the hull of a ship. It sounds like they can cause visibility and sensor errors (such as nebula), radiation and other damage (from a dying star/black hole) among other things. I see how these might be fun, but if they occur too frequently I can also see how they could be very annoying.
Most systems in Freelancer didn't have radiation, minefields, explosive gases, or sensor-affecting nebulae, but those things usually coincided with certain other features.

Wherever you had radiation, you were usually in a system with a very powerful star, or in a field where there was an incident that spilled hazardous waste. In the Texas system, there was an irradiated junk field that resulted from an in-lore attempt to create a very long distance jump gate connection. That was one of the high damage output radiation zones. Then you had Tau-23, which had an ever-present level of damaging radiation, but it would take hours to actually whittle down your hull and eat up all your hull nanobots.

Minefields were only ever in an area to protect critical stations or system ingress/egress points, or were remains from a battle long past. A high damage minefield was present around Zone 21 in the New York system, since there were a lot of Liberty government secrets behind it. In some scrap fields that persisted after battles (I believe there was one such minefield in Sigma-13), there were some low-damage mines scattered around in a low-density minefield.

Explosive gas pockets (functionally identical to minefields, but with a different appearance and usually a low-damage output) were usually present in parts of systems which were one big nebula. Sigma-13 had some explosive gas pockets and the Gas Miners Guild had a base of operations there to collect the gas.

Sensor disrupting fields were often accompanied by mild levels of damaging radiation or thick nebulae, and would often have navigation beacons to guide pilots since it was impossible to track a distant target. Sigma-19 had a disrupting nebula surrounding Planet Kurile.

The fringes of space, usually a treasure trove of lost ships with valuable equipment on board, or planets teeming with illegal goods (Planets Malta and Crete of Omicrons Alpha and Gamma, respectively) were full of radiation fields and tightly-packed asteroid fields. Tighter still than the field in Empire Strikes Back. But these were dangerous areas with a lot of money to be made. A system like Hudson was pretty serene, with a pirate base on one end and a pharmaceutical factory on the other, and with little of immediate value, the devs didn't see it fit to load it down with obstacles. Most of House Space and the Independent Worlds were like this.

Now, Limit Theory isn't going to be handcrafted, but I think different metrics (stellar output, military traffic, gas density, etc.) could be used by the LT engine to determine whether a given system is going to have any of these things, and if they do, where. That way we don't have every system choked to death with traps and obstacles, but a few critical points in the local cluster will be notable danger zones.
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#8
Quite mathematically possible, theoretically possible, implementable, and the most work would be in the VFX and the balancing.

the only issue i can see would be the AI running into it like Leroy Jenkins. im no programmer so i dont know exactly how eazy it would be to make the AI say "Bad place" but it would seem to me that it would be quite the task.

All in all i like the idea and can see parking my reinforced shipyard working on my secretive supercap so no AI can get their grubby little transfer beams on it.
There is no peace, only passion
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#9
Catsu wrote:the only issue i can see would be the AI running into it like Leroy Jenkins. im no programmer so i dont know exactly how eazy it would be to make the AI say "Bad place" but it would seem to me that it would be quite the task.
One of the things I'm looking forward to seeing once LT is released is how well NPCs deal with knowledge about the world.

How well can they detect information about their immediate local environment?

How well can they reason tactically based on that information?

How well can they combine information over longer periods of time to create well-informed strategic plans?

In addition to learning from direct experience, how well can NPCs learn from the reported experiences of other NPCs?

To what extent can NPCs form incorrect beliefs about the nature of their world? That is, can NPCs form superstitious beliefs?

And all of this is dependent on the important design question lurking behind the original question in this thread: will space have enough recognizably different "stuff" in it -- different kinds of objects and dynamic effects -- for NPCs to make interesting choices based on that terrain?
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#11
Some more "localised" bubbles of effects could be influenced by ships passing by/through.

Bubbles could be attracted to ships.
Pushed away
Weakened
strenghtened?(and weakening over time when not perturbed again?)

The influences could also be tied to different things than just ships at all.
This nebula might really dont like shields being active in it, but otherwise be pretty calm and bengin.
Or jump drives could change the arrangement of the effect bubbles.

Thoughts?
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Re: Space terrain and anomalies

#12
Cornflakes_91 wrote:
Wed Aug 09, 2017 10:34 am
Some more "localised" bubbles of effects could be influenced by ships passing by/through.

...

This nebula might really dont like shields being active in it, but otherwise be pretty calm and bengin.
Or jump drives could change the arrangement of the effect bubbles.
YES. (Assuming core features are complete.)

This is getting very close to my wish for space to have "terrain" -- even better if some of that terrain isn't just a field with one effect, but is a thing that can itself perform actions.

Also, this idea sparks a couple of additional/related thoughts:

1. Trails, beautiful trails... as in, ships leave temporary/decaying trails of "stuff" that can be detected with sensors that are a) capable of detecting that energy/matter, and b) are currently "tuned" to be able to see the trails.

There are any number of constraints that could be put on this; the notion is that the movement of ships can, up to a point, be tracked by someone with the right gear who's looking in the right place. This opens up some gameplay possibilities.

2. What about letting ships themselves be able to create bubbles of particular effects?

Again, constraints; again, the point is the types of active gameplay that this feature would open up. Depending on the size of the bubble formed, for example, it would be pretty cool to be able to create your own "terrain" to your tactical advantage, rather than having only one way of affecting other ships ("pew-pew").

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