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Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained

A post to the Roberts Space Industries website from Chris Roberts discusses the flight model and input controls in Star Citizen, now that backers have had the chance to experience some test flights. He explains why they chose the level of real-world fidelity they did:

We model what would be needed on an actual spaceship, including correct application of thrust at the places where the thrusters are attached to the hull of the ship Ė in our model moment of inertia, mass changes and counter thrust are VERY necessary. Star Citizenís physical simulation of spaceflight is based on what would actually happen in space.

There were a couple of reasons why we went this direction Ė

1. Because we were planning on modeling and simulating spaceships with a fidelity that hadnít been seen before I felt we needed a simulation that would let the player have different flight behavior if a thruster is damaged, a wing is blown off or a pilot overloads his ship with weapons and ammunition? I wanted a system that could feel distinct for a huge variety of ships, with wildly different sizes and roles because in Star Citizen you can go from a single seater ship 15 meters in length to a huge capital ship over 1km in size crewed by many players. I wanted these ships to come with their own identity and feel much like similar sized cars, even if equivalent in mass can feel radically different. I wanted ships to have their own personality Ė not just a slower of faster version of the base ship.

2. The second is that Star Citizen will have a significant amount of player vs. player combat. I donít know how many people played Wing Commander Armada (the first Wing Commander game to feature multiplayer) but it wasnít that much fun in battle mode (the head to head mode). When you design a single player game you can deliberately dumb down the AI to allow the player to get on the tail and shoot down multiple enemies, which gives the player a sense of achievement. Thereís nothing more fun than single handily clearing a wave of 10 enemy Kilrathi fighters. But letís be honest, in single player games the ability for the player to gun down waves of enemies has less to do with the skill of the player because the player is usually overpowered in respect to the base enemies he will fight. You canít do this in player vs player, and itís likely that multiple players will have the same ship. Without a sophisticated simulation and flight model, with lots of options for a pilot to fluidly try different tactics to get the upper hand the battles can end up as a frustrating stalemate when both pilots have the same ship as no one can get on the otherís tail because you donít have the same forces that affect air combat (namely gravity and air resistance) to bleed energy from the maneuvers.

These reasons are why we went out of our way to fully simulate the physics that would involve controlling and moving a ship in space with no short cuts.

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54 Replies. 3 pages. Viewing page 1.
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54. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 20, 2014, 10:53 Razumen
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 21:11:
Razumen wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 17:01:
Meh, some of us prefer to become actual space combat badasses rather than have it handed to us on a silver platter, but to each their own I guess.

Do we know that? It sounds like all space sims so far have been handed to us on a silver platter.

Thus the "become" part of the equation
Although there's been a few, like Independence War, that have tried to model spaceflight combat more accurately.
 
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53. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 20, 2014, 09:01 SpectralMeat
 
1badmf wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 23:55:
i think any real space sim nut knows scott manley, that delightful scottish space junkie. some of the stuff he does in KSP makes the rest of us look like monkeys playing with heavy construction equipment.
Yep I started watching his "tutorial" videos for Kerbal and the basic ones were fine but the more advance ones just go way over my head.
Some of the newer Kerbal videos he does I have no clue wtf he is doing but it looks cool.
He recently started playing Freelance and it made me reinstall my copy and play it again.
Some good memories
 
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52. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 23:55 1badmf
 
i think any real space sim nut knows scott manley, that delightful scottish space junkie. some of the stuff he does in KSP makes the rest of us look like monkeys playing with heavy construction equipment.  
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51. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 23:50 1badmf
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 21:09:
Tumbler wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:50:
The Half Elf wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:30:
Question I was accepted into the Dogfighting Beta, but have never purchased anything from them. To participate do I need to purchase a ship and the Dog Fighting Arena?

If you don't own anything at this point I'm confused why you got invited,

Think about it... it's genius.

i don't get it either. unless helf is a friend/family, i don't see how he could've been invited. invitations go by citizen ID number. you don't get a CID unless you're a backer. as long as your package says 'alpha access' you're in. but you got an invite so you're in anyway. just download the game, enter your login/pass from the website, and you're good to go. but again i don't see how helf got an invite.
 
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50. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 21:11 HorrorScope
 
Razumen wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 17:01:
Meh, some of us prefer to become actual space combat badasses rather than have it handed to us on a silver platter, but to each their own I guess.

Do we know that? It sounds like all space sims so far have been handed to us on a silver platter.
 
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49. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 21:09 HorrorScope
 
Tumbler wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:50:
The Half Elf wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:30:
Question I was accepted into the Dogfighting Beta, but have never purchased anything from them. To participate do I need to purchase a ship and the Dog Fighting Arena?

If you don't own anything at this point I'm confused why you got invited,

Think about it... it's genius.
 
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48. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 18:22 Razumen
 
ViRGE wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 18:04:
Razumen wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 17:01:
ViRGE wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 16:40:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.
At the end of the day I don't particularly care about the MP portion since I don't intend to play it. But for SP I certainly expect it to behave arcadey, either innately or through the flight computer). I want to be a space fighting badass, laws of physics be damned. Having to learn how to really fly a space ship (and repeatedly fail) in an action game is not my idea of fun.

jdreyer wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:52:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.

I can not begin to tell you people how weird it is to feel like I am nearly alone as a non-cynic with regards to this game. My wife is constantly bagging on me for being too cynical. I find it very humorous that while I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper, I am not any less enthusiastic about this game than I was when the project began either. I must be mellowing in my old age. (or it could be that the 35 dollar price tag just doesn't yank my chain hard enough to make me care about every little thing that may or may not be going wrong)

I'm with you. I think a lot of people are, it's just the naysayers tend to be vocal.
Agreed in full.

Meh, some of us prefer to become actual space combat badasses rather than have it handed to us on a silver platter, but to each their own I guess.
I'm not necessarily opposed to that. The problem is that fighter pilots fall distinctly into a bell curve. Most of us will never be good enough.

Depends on what type of bell curve really...but anyways, that's what the flight assist functions are for I imagine, players that want arcade controls can leave them on, others can play around to their hearts content.
 
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47. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 18:20 SpectralMeat
 
Mordhaus wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 16:47:
They will give you a refund minus 10% processing fee. Out of my 180 spent, I got back 162 via Paypal.
Hmm I didn't know that. Thanks
 
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46. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 18:13 jimnms
 
Creston wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 14:58:
jimnms wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 14:49:
Here's a video of a guy explaining "The Physics Of Flying 'Space Fighters'" using Kerbal Space Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYPxJtra1ws

That's not just "a guy", that's Scott Manley, who is like the Kerbal Space Program Guru. (Which may have something to do with the fact that he either currently is, or was at one point, working for NASA as a rocket scientist or whatever they're called now.)

Tl;dr Scott Manley is brilliant, and is ALWAYS RIGHT.

I didn't think many people here would know who Scott Manley is.
 
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45. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 18:04 ViRGE
 
Razumen wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 17:01:
ViRGE wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 16:40:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.
At the end of the day I don't particularly care about the MP portion since I don't intend to play it. But for SP I certainly expect it to behave arcadey, either innately or through the flight computer). I want to be a space fighting badass, laws of physics be damned. Having to learn how to really fly a space ship (and repeatedly fail) in an action game is not my idea of fun.

jdreyer wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:52:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.

I can not begin to tell you people how weird it is to feel like I am nearly alone as a non-cynic with regards to this game. My wife is constantly bagging on me for being too cynical. I find it very humorous that while I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper, I am not any less enthusiastic about this game than I was when the project began either. I must be mellowing in my old age. (or it could be that the 35 dollar price tag just doesn't yank my chain hard enough to make me care about every little thing that may or may not be going wrong)

I'm with you. I think a lot of people are, it's just the naysayers tend to be vocal.
Agreed in full.

Meh, some of us prefer to become actual space combat badasses rather than have it handed to us on a silver platter, but to each their own I guess.
I'm not necessarily opposed to that. The problem is that fighter pilots fall distinctly into a bell curve. Most of us will never be good enough.
 
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44. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 17:01 Razumen
 
ViRGE wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 16:40:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.
At the end of the day I don't particularly care about the MP portion since I don't intend to play it. But for SP I certainly expect it to behave arcadey, either innately or through the flight computer). I want to be a space fighting badass, laws of physics be damned. Having to learn how to really fly a space ship (and repeatedly fail) in an action game is not my idea of fun.

jdreyer wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:52:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.

I can not begin to tell you people how weird it is to feel like I am nearly alone as a non-cynic with regards to this game. My wife is constantly bagging on me for being too cynical. I find it very humorous that while I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper, I am not any less enthusiastic about this game than I was when the project began either. I must be mellowing in my old age. (or it could be that the 35 dollar price tag just doesn't yank my chain hard enough to make me care about every little thing that may or may not be going wrong)

I'm with you. I think a lot of people are, it's just the naysayers tend to be vocal.
Agreed in full.

Meh, some of us prefer to become actual space combat badasses rather than have it handed to us on a silver platter, but to each their own I guess.
 
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43. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 16:47 Mordhaus
 
They will give you a refund minus 10% processing fee. Out of my 180 spent, I got back 162 via Paypal.  
Avatar 57294
 
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42. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 16:40 ViRGE
 
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.
At the end of the day I don't particularly care about the MP portion since I don't intend to play it. But for SP I certainly expect it to behave arcadey, either innately or through the flight computer). I want to be a space fighting badass, laws of physics be damned. Having to learn how to really fly a space ship (and repeatedly fail) in an action game is not my idea of fun.

jdreyer wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:52:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
It would make more sense to start off with default "arcade" type controls and let the simmers adjust to their wants/needs, rather than the other way around. I mean the hardcores are the ones that even understand most of those terms etc. But this is what alphas are there for and it all still looks good to me.

I can not begin to tell you people how weird it is to feel like I am nearly alone as a non-cynic with regards to this game. My wife is constantly bagging on me for being too cynical. I find it very humorous that while I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper, I am not any less enthusiastic about this game than I was when the project began either. I must be mellowing in my old age. (or it could be that the 35 dollar price tag just doesn't yank my chain hard enough to make me care about every little thing that may or may not be going wrong)

I'm with you. I think a lot of people are, it's just the naysayers tend to be vocal.
Agreed in full.
 
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41. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 16:04 Tumbler
 
I understand what you're saying, but I think you'll find that this won't handle like other games. Your yaw turn speed will be slower in turn rate and slower in reaction time due to the way they are modeling individual thrusters and a ship's true (and dynamic) center of gravity.

If they change this in the future that would be interesting but as it is right now it's not hard to use yaw to track your target. The only difficulty seems to be using straff to the left or right in glide mode. When you do that it's a very big shift in perspective and will be very difficult to aim with. However when you straff up or down there is almost no change.

It would seem that once you're in guns range you should click over to glide mode, use the stick to pitch and yaw to track your target and then staff up and down to avoid incoming fire. Course correction, turning, just doesn't seem important. You can tap glide mode on and on once the enemy is dead or out of range. Or tap it on and off if you want to bump yourself toward them.
 
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40. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 15:24 Zoom
 
@SpectralMeat that's only true for atmo flight (with rudder connected to the plane's tail). For space flight there is no such rule, agility on each axis will only depend on where and how many thrusters you have.
In a space fight roll is mostly used to keep visibility and battelfield awareness.
I would also mention helicopters on which yaw can be very, very fast (dependant on tail rotor power basically).
 
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39. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 15:17 SpectralMeat
 
Yeah jaw usually really slow and can not be used for turning. It is more for fine adjusting your aim.  
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38. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 15:14 Strango
 
I understand what you're saying, but I think you'll find that this won't handle like other games. Your yaw turn speed will be slower in turn rate and slower in reaction time due to the way they are modeling individual thrusters and a ship's true (and dynamic) center of gravity.  
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37. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 15:11 Tumbler
 
Strango wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 14:48:

In case you missed it in the article there is an entire section on Yaw vs Roll where they explain why it is setup this way. The quick summary of it is roll allows you to turn harder due to more thrusters being utilized and that hard non-banked turns will stress the ship and possibly cause damage due to the horizontal G force.

That sounds great on paper but in a dogfight the faster you can get your target under your cross hairs the more you're going to win the fight. My opponent may be able to turn faster by rolling and turning but I'm going to get my reticle on target sooner because I can yaw left and right and that is all that matters.

Using roll in combat will just get you killed. We're not going to be doing any turn fighting in this game ala WW2, it's going to be all about getting your reticle on target and the fastest way to do that is to have yaw and pitch on the stick.
 
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36. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:58 Creston
 
jimnms wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 14:49:
Here's a video of a guy explaining "The Physics Of Flying 'Space Fighters'" using Kerbal Space Program.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYPxJtra1ws

That's not just "a guy", that's Scott Manley, who is like the Kerbal Space Program Guru. (Which may have something to do with the fact that he either currently is, or was at one point, working for NASA as a rocket scientist or whatever they're called now.)

Tl;dr Scott Manley is brilliant, and is ALWAYS RIGHT.
 
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35. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:56 Zoom
 
jimnms, i was about to mention KSP too. I am a "sim jock" and i like the approach taken by Roberts here. I am certainly not expecting atmospheric-like flight, that would be very disappointing.
KSP is a good example of a fun, ultra-realistic simulator (yes, check it out, especially with some realism mods like FAR etc..). People love it anyway.
Here by taking a hard core approach, they'll allow skill progression for the pilots, a newbie will get his ass handed over by veterans unless he's a native space pilot The differentiation by skill is better IMHO that forced game mechanics ("level up", which in MMO's is translated into "pay to win")..
Let's see how that plays out over time. Also consider that bigger ships will handle like trucks, there it's less about 3D piloting skills and more about having a good team.
 
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