Developer Diary 4
How do you have realistic movement in a space combat game? Well, unless we have actual battles between the planets, we really won’t know. Until that time comes (and let’s hope it is long after we actually start regular trips between worlds), we can make some suppositions.
Since there is almost no friction in space, ships cannot stop on a dime (or a Firebird). Instead, they must fire their thrusters to move in a certain direction. When they want to change their direction, even the slightest amount, they must apply thrust in a new direction that takes into account their current velocity.
In the Fading Suns universe, most human ships have rear thrusters. When they need to change direction, they use maneuver jets to change their facing, and then apply thrust in that direction.
In FSNA, we simulate this by allowing you to change facing freely, but your rear thrusters take time to replenish before they can use full thrust again. Thus players have to take care to use just the right amount of thrust to reach their goal. Too much, and they may drastically overshoot. Too little, and they may suffer several broadsides while getting into position.
In our next Developer Diary, we will cover the thinking behind our user interface.
What game have you played that handled player maneuvering in an innovative way?