Iteration 4.2 is ready to download on the main site. The biggest change is the weeklong struggle with the physics engine. I finally was able to learn how to properly communicate with it and it is working fairly well. There is still a little issue with thrust not always correctly reaching the speed setting, but that can be looked at later. I’m really excited about the changes so I wanted to make it available.
I gave the AI the ability for its weapons to turn slightly to better aim, as a consequence of the AI not being able to line up to its target as good as it could under the other flight system. What’s neat is that the AI is much better at hitting targets, but the player can still do a good deal of evasion (in the old system, evasion was almost impossible) of enemy fire. The lateral thrusters really help in this.
Another somewhat big challenge was a proper way for the ships to stop rotationg. So to recap, with the new physics engine the ships rotate via applying a force, because there is no fricksion in this space sim, this would mean that the ship would rotate forever. So of course this wouldn’t make it easy to control the ship, so I have to add a counter force to stop. Problem was that there was this tiny amount of rotation that messed with a variety of things. For example aligning for gravity drive (what I call the fast mode of travel beteen large objects) didn’t work well because in order for it to kick in it checks whether the ship is stopped (including rotation). This also interfered with the camera, as you can probably see when the ship turns the camera turns to give the effect of motion, this depends on the rotation being stopped to return to the neutral position. So with a tiny bit of rotation persisting, even though the ship wasn’t rotating, it had a big impact.
So when I fixed the rotation issue, a bunch of other problems simply went away! yay!