Author Topic: Dev Diary #3: FTL  (Read 16043 times)

GGLucas

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Dev Diary #3: FTL
« on: March 12, 2014, 03:57:32 PM »

As space strategy fans, the Star Ruler 2 dev team spends a lot of time discussing and designing the mechanics of the game and trying to learn from the ways in which the first game fell short. These Dev Diaries are intended to give you a perspective of our process while explaining the future mechanics of Star Ruler 2.

From the very start of Star Ruler 2's development, it's been our goal to create a unique system of FTL travel; a system where the way you use your faster-than-light engines requires thought and has major impact on the progression of the game. We ended up designing four distinctly different methods of travel, for players to choose from during race customization.

Units of Goes-Fast
Unlike most games, FTL travel in SR2 is not unlimited or trivial. The various devices that enable it require a special kind of FTL Energy to operate, of which you have a limited amount available. If you do not have a sufficient amount of FTL, your ships will not be able to use their drives, and will have to make it to their destination at slow sublight speeds.

Specific planets in the galaxy contain FTL Crystals, which are used to gather and store the energy, increasing your capability to rapidly FTL fleets.

Hyperdrive
Hyperdrives are the simplest and most flexible form of FTL travel. Flagships equipped with hyperdrives can shift in and out of hyperspace, and travel greater distances in shorter amounts of time. The further away you FTL a ship using hyperdrives, the more FTL energy it costs.


A flagship charges up its hyperdrive.

Unfortunately, hyperdrives are also the slowest form of FTL travel. Ships still need to travel some distance in hyperspace and the size of their hyperdrives determines how fast they can do this.

Fling Beacons
Fling Beacons solve some the problems that ship-borne hyperdrives have. A fling beacon is a massive orbital containing a hyperspace pulse device, capable of causing ships in its vicinity to temporarily shift into hyperspace, pushing them forward to their destination. Flinging ships is much more cost-effective than hyperdrives, and goes much further much faster.


Fling Beacons can FTL ships extremely far away.

Using fling beacons is ideal for getting ships to places fast, but the need to have a beacon nearby to go into FTL means your ships will frequently be unable to return without spending large amounts of time slowboating. Setting up beacons close to highly contested areas is vital to success.

Slipstream
Putting very large slipstream generators on specialized ships lets them use FTL energy to tear holes in the fabric of spacetime. These Slipstream Tears can then be used by all your other ships to move through, and instantly appear on the other side.


Ships can move through artificially generated slipstream tears.

Generating a slipstream tear costs a lot of FTL energy, and although the tears are temporary, they last a reasonable amount of time: 10 minutes and up, depending on the size of the generator ship. Your ships will automatically use slipstream tears to move to their destination faster.


Colony ships automatically pathing through a nearby tear.

Slipstream tears fundamentally alter space, and as such have no concept of ownership. If a tear exists, every empire can move ships through it, and even use their sensors to gain vision over the system on the other side of the tear.

Gates
Gates are large orbitals used to create more managable types of wormholes than slipstream tears. After setting up a network of gates, ships will automatically move from any gate to any other gate in your empire by establishing the proper wormhole connection. Since the wormholes are generated at will by the gates, there is no time limit on their operation, nor can enemy empires make use of them.


Gates cost a lot of FTL to set up and maintain, but allow instant travel to any other gate.

Unlike all other forms of FTL, gates can sustain trade routes. Any territory with at least one gate can trade to any other territory with a gate, letting gate-based empires expand in ways unavailable to other races.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2014, 10:50:19 AM by GGLucas »

echo2361

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #1 on: March 12, 2014, 04:53:12 PM »
I'm glad to see there will be a variety of FTL options, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. One of my favorite space 4x games, Sword of the Stars, offers this and it greatly enhances the feeling on uniqueness among the various races and leads to many interesting strategic decisions.

I have a couple of questions:

1. So the option to pick an FTL method will be strictly limited to race customization? Just wondering if there will be some kind of option to start with one FTL tech and research others later. Personally I'd be happy to just be limited to the one FTL tech I picked to start with, but I could also see the merits of letting players research other FTL techs later in the game to open up more options.

2. For the FTL techs that will have space structures, Fling Beacons and Gates I think, will the player start off with one pre-built in their home system? I imagine they would need to or else they could be easily out paced by other FTL tech races that don't have to build structures first. In a related question, will the structures take a lot of time/resources to build or will they be relatively small scale? If they are small enough I guess starting without one wouldn't be too big of a problem.

3. For those same structure-based FTL techs, will the structures themselves be pretty heavily armored? I would imagine it would be best if they were or else an enemy could easily launch quick raids to remove the structures to destroy an opponent's ability to FTL.

Anyways, keep up the good work with the dev diaries! They are quite informative and interesting.

Thy Reaper

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #2 on: March 12, 2014, 05:00:23 PM »
1. Research is still not final, but we will probably have (extremely difficult) methods to get other FTL methods. Mixing methods can be ridiculously strong, so restricting this is very important.

2. Each FTL method has a different starting provision, which will probably change by release. Right now, Fling and Slipstream both start with a related structure/ship.

3. The structures won't be trivial to destroy.

redminster

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #3 on: March 13, 2014, 04:07:43 PM »
I really love the idea of having a FTL resource, however I am not crazy about having a mcguffin (FTL crystals) when there are so many other hard science fiction concepts to pull from. For example replacing the FTL crystal with a solar array that generates exotic particles. This would seem to be more in line with the hard sci fi setting that i love about star ruler.

DatonKallandor

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #4 on: March 13, 2014, 09:04:32 PM »
Then people are going to complain about "why is solar arrays so rare that only few planets have it?". Gameplay first and FTL points are good gameplay.

Ynglaur

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #5 on: March 14, 2014, 08:53:24 AM »
I really love the idea of having a FTL resource, however I am not crazy about having a mcguffin (FTL crystals) when there are so many other hard science fiction concepts to pull from. For example replacing the FTL crystal with a solar array that generates exotic particles. This would seem to be more in line with the hard sci fi setting that i love about star ruler.

Maybe the FTL crystals are used in the solar arrays.

redminster

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #6 on: March 14, 2014, 04:57:02 PM »
Sorry when i said solar arrays i was thinking of an orbital solar array that is used to generate exotic particles. The same particles that in theory would be need to maintain a wormhole.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #7 on: March 16, 2014, 07:05:07 PM »
Sorry when i said solar arrays i was thinking of an orbital solar array that is used to generate exotic particles. The same particles that in theory would be need to maintain a wormhole.

I agree with redminster. The creation and management of exotic particles to create wormholes would be a gameplay element much more interesting - and realistic - than a mcguffin like FTL crystals.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #8 on: March 16, 2014, 07:14:47 PM »
1. Research is still not final, but we will probably have (extremely difficult) methods to get other FTL methods. Mixing methods can be ridiculously strong, so restricting this is very important.

2. Each FTL method has a different starting provision, which will probably change by release. Right now, Fling and Slipstream both start with a related structure/ship.

3. The structures won't be trivial to destroy.

A interesting suggestion to avoid the destruction of stargates and other FTL structure would be making this act something incredibly dangerous and foolish. For example, destroying a stargate would make the same explode with energy enough to destroy a entire solar system (including all ships inside of it) and leaving it completely and permanently uninhabitable.

Ynglaur

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #9 on: March 17, 2014, 08:27:07 AM »
A interesting suggestion to avoid the destruction of stargates and other FTL structure would be making this act something incredibly dangerous and foolish. For example, destroying a stargate would make the same explode with energy enough to destroy a entire solar system (including all ships inside of it) and leaving it completely and permanently uninhabitable.
That would only encourage people to use them as weapons.  I would happily build stargates at all of my opponents' systems, and then destroy them.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #10 on: March 17, 2014, 12:25:09 PM »
Hummm. The worst part is that you are right.... certain people would make everything to win a war/battle. Even if that means to destroy their own fleet(s).  :(

Rawne

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #11 on: April 23, 2014, 08:08:24 AM »
I really love the idea of having a FTL resource, however I am not crazy about having a mcguffin (FTL crystals) when there are so many other hard science fiction concepts to pull from. For example replacing the FTL crystal with a solar array that generates exotic particles. This would seem to be more in line with the hard sci fi setting that i love about star ruler.

I agree but I don't think the two options are mutually exclusive. Just an idea but FTL crystals could be written in as stable exotic matter and for much of the game the only source of FTL energy. Eventually research might allow exotic particle synthesis allowing for mega-structures (world sized particle accelerators perhaps?) to make it but this could be inefficient and thus to mass produce take a lot of resources.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #12 on: April 24, 2014, 02:50:58 PM »
Hummm... I still prefer the idea of collection hydrogen from stars/jovian worlds and use it - maybe with the help of solar arrays, like suggested by redminster - to create exotic particles to power up/construct FTL technology (hyperdrives, fling beacons, stargates, etc.). ???
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 08:48:24 AM by Septimus Oraka »

Rawne

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #13 on: April 25, 2014, 09:54:39 AM »
Hummm... I still prefer the idea of collection hydrogen from star/jovian worlds and use it - maybe with the help of solar arrays, like suggested by redminster - to create exotic particles to power up/construct FTL technology (hyperdrives, fling beacons, stargates, etc.). ???

Given that we're probably talking about a type of exotic matter it should be very expensive to synthesise, perhaps even endgame level hard. One cool way could be to research megastructures and particle physics enough to build a Fermitron; a hypothetical particle accelerator the circumference of a planet (could even be placed in solar orbit with the inner section full of solar panels for power). An empire that builds it could have a very expensive way of generating their own fuel, but for balance it shouldn't be at a rate which ensures fuel isn't a problem. That is until you build a ringworld and construct a particle accelerator all around the inner surface...

Anyho just a fun idea, I don't want to seem like I'm telling anyone how to make their game :)

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #14 on: April 27, 2014, 08:50:13 AM »
Fermitron... ringtron.... what is next? a... Megatron?!  :o

Rawne

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #15 on: April 27, 2014, 09:44:26 AM »
Fermitron... ringtron.... what is next? a... Megatron?!  :o

The biggest hypothetical accelerator I've heard of is the Planckatron. It would be able to accelerate particles to 1.22x1028eV (for comparison the LHC gets up to 1.4x1014eV AKA 90 trillion times less) but would have to have a diameter hundreds of light years wide.

That's not just endgame level, that's the end of all games :p

EDIT: though come to think of it you could do some really cool particle physics if you built a linear accelerator with a FTL Gate or Slipstream tear at either side. You could pump energy into the particles without worrying about having to make a prohibitively huge accelerator because you've essentially made an infinite straight rod...
« Last Edit: April 27, 2014, 09:50:44 AM by Rawne »

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #16 on: April 28, 2014, 02:10:29 PM »
Planckatron?! this name seems like something coming from SpongeBob Squarepants!  ;D

Note: I know that the name planckatron comes from Max Planck, the father of quantum theory.

Inauxas

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #17 on: May 06, 2014, 06:42:34 PM »
So will the crystals be finite, or work like metal/ore in SR1?

Thy Reaper

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #18 on: May 06, 2014, 07:05:59 PM »
So will the crystals be finite, or work like metal/ore in SR1?

Some crystals are infinite, some are finite.

ikalugin

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #19 on: May 07, 2014, 03:13:45 AM »
I think there could be a useful secondary function to beacons:
- make it so that between two beacons FTL travel is cheaper/faster.

This would encourage setting up a network of said beacons.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #20 on: May 07, 2014, 11:46:08 AM »
Good idea. But I still think that it would be better if those FTL crystals were replaced for some sort of manufactured exotic particles.

DatonKallandor

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #21 on: May 07, 2014, 12:46:19 PM »
I think there could be a useful secondary function to beacons:
- make it so that between two beacons FTL travel is cheaper/faster.

This would encourage setting up a network of said beacons.

You can't FTL without Beacons if you go with Beacons. They don't need a secondary function when they already are essential. For a beacon user, they're the only way to FTL - you don't need any more reason to set up a network of them (if you can afford to).

ssutcliffe

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2014, 07:59:19 PM »
I have a question about trade. In your Galactic Economy installment, you talked the importance of trading. Will that only be possible using Gate technology if you want to trade outside the current star system (as you showed in your example)?

Thy Reaper

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #23 on: May 08, 2014, 09:06:37 PM »
You can conduct planetary trade through your gates, yes. That's their major advantage.

mockingking

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #24 on: May 23, 2014, 08:45:21 AM »
FTL...crystals?

Why does it always have to be crystals?
This game could have been much more.

Septimus Oraka

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #25 on: May 24, 2014, 05:55:17 PM »
I was asking myself the same question: why crystals? why not use some sort of exotic particle? In the Orion's Arm universe, hydrogen can be collected from stars and jovian planets and used as feedstock to creation of exotic energy used in wormhole manufacture. Why don't use something similar in Star Ruler instead of these FTL crystals?  ???

Thy Reaper

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #26 on: May 24, 2014, 06:47:35 PM »
The crystals aren't the source of FTL, they're just a naturally occurring substance that collects the particles. Other means of producing FTL rely on capturing these particles through other means, and don't produce crystals.

XTRMNTR2K

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #27 on: May 25, 2014, 04:44:01 AM »
I think it's safe to say it's a good sign that people get worked up over minor designations instead of gameplay mechanics.


Besides, I'm pretty sure all references to "FTL crystals" could be changed for something else within minutes. Hell, with all the fuzz that "apples" and "FTL crystals" have caused so far, I'm willing to bet money that the first mod to be released will be a "NO CRYSTALS AND APPLES MOD"! ;D

TritAith

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #28 on: May 25, 2014, 05:52:34 AM »
:D
Sorry, English is not my native language, but I'm trying :)

DatonKallandor

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Re: Dev Diary #3: FTL
« Reply #29 on: May 25, 2014, 11:11:15 AM »
I think it's safe to say it's a good sign that people get worked up over minor designations instead of gameplay mechanics.


Besides, I'm pretty sure all references to "FTL crystals" could be changed for something else within minutes. Hell, with all the fuzz that "apples" and "FTL crystals" have caused so far, I'm willing to bet money that the first mod to be released will be a "NO CRYSTALS AND APPLES MOD"! ;D
Except they're not apples, they're generic fruit.