Lotsa happenings – gravity drive

Its funny because the more stuff is happening the less I update this blog. But I have to make a effort, at the very least for myself because I enjoy reading this stuff, its motivational and I go “ooh I remember when I did that… yeah…”

Recent work: re-wrote the “gravity drive” – prior to this gravity drive only functioned via autopilot, this is of course very lame, also the whole gravity drive process was pretty bland – select far away target, press auto pilot button, ship would stop, face target, and then accelerate. Another awesome thing here is that the new code is sooo much simpler than the old, and the old code was mix of AI and acceleration, very lame, it was some off the earliest code I’ve written and it shows.

Now you can manually “engage” gravity drive – first you select a “valid hop” – a large object that allows for the gravity drive to function, meaning that the map turns into sort of islands in the void, enabling for strategic/choke points, meaning much more interesting map design. You can still fly to any spot via the standard engines, but to quickly travel from spot to spot that’s why there’s the gravity drive. So anyway you select a valid hop, then you “initialize” the gravity drive (via keyboard or hud) and now you have to travel at three times the cruise speed to “engage” the gravity drive, at this point you accelerate 20 times the normal factor – until you reach your destination at which point the gravity drive disengages and you rapidly decrease your momentum, if the ship veers off course (you are still allowed any maneuver you want) and you get further away from your hop, then the gravity drive disengages.

The other limitation of the gravity drive is that it only works on the “nearest” hop, so you may have to jump to a hop nearer to your final destination, meaning that that intermediate hop is able to become more strategic.

I think that this new take on “warp” or “hyperspace” mechanic in space sims is pretty neat. There’s a few limitations that add to the game play, and allow for greater strategy (the need to go towards a valid object), but still allows for rapid travel between positions, no need to fly through boring empty space too much. It isn’t the tired “jump” mechanic where a ship disappears and reappears in a different spot instantaneously, while really convenient this is somewhat boring.

In other news: the AI work continues, and is progressing well, the light is at the end of the tunnel. Today I finished up basic target selection and order commands for the combat AI.