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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 2.
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34. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:55 SpectralMeat
 
Yep Scott Manley videos are pretty awesome and informative.
This is his SC dogfighting video and his opinion.
 
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33. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:49 jimnms
 
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
 
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32. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:48 Strango
 
Tumbler wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 12:57:
What makes this even more hilarious, they IFCS is setup for hardcore simmers, is the default left right on the stick is Roll, not yaw. In space combat you need to have yaw there, roll is close to worthless...no idea why they thought people would be using roll. Maybe they thought the simmers would want to get blown up a lot and take FOREVER to get kills.

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.
 
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31. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:43 Aero
 
How does velocity work? In my experience, if it's realistic and acceleration is only limited by fuel, fighting degrades into a series of high speed head on passes until someone dies. Jousting, in effect, and it's pretty boring.

Then again, if you factor in acceleration stress on the human in the ship which would severely limit your ability to change direction (turn around for the next pass), it could keep the relative velocities low if the ships fighting wanted to stay in contact with one another.

I've never played anything that had both true newtonian physics and g-force limits on the pilot, and I can't even imagine how it would work, especially when you consider the possibility of many ships. I can maybe see some very interesting strategies evolving from it, but it might not be much fun.

edit: In my own opinion, though I'm much more into the sim side of things generally, I'm fine with magicking some of these problems away with technobabble. One possible solution would be to say you've got some kind of gravity damper that allows for very high constant-g turns but not rapid changes in acceleration.

edit2: Okay, I realize that's the opposite of what a damper actually does, but you get the idea.

This comment was edited on Jun 19, 2014, 14:58.
 
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30. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:28 Jivaro
 
Tumbler wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:43:
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper

IT'S A TOWEL YOU MONSTER!

 
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29. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:23 BobBob
 
Why can't we delete our own messages? Come on Blue, it's 2014.  
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28. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 14:21 BobBob
 
I enjoyed Freelancer because it played nothing like your typical boring space combat flight simulator. If I want reality, I go outside.  
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27. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:52 jdreyer
 
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.
 
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26. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:50 Tumbler
 
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?


Yes you need at least one ship to play AC. Technically you need at least a ship "package" which is normally the Ship, a hangar, and either alpha or beta access. If you login to the website and to to "my hangar" it will show you what ships you own.

If you don't own anything at this point I'm confused why you got invited, maybe you can go walk around in the hangar? It's possible they will give you access to an Aurora even if you don't own one right now because there are plenty of ships that aren't in the game and they default to one of the three available ships. I don't own a 300i or Hornet specifically but I get both those ships currently because I own others like them which are not available.

It might be simplest to go here, it has a checklist of things you need before you download the installer.

https://robertsspaceindustries.com/download
 
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25. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:49 jdreyer
 
HorrorScope wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 12:23:
Creston yep, it is going to be hard to please everyone with the flight model. There has to be at least to large camps on both sides. If you go full on sim, there will be a lot of people that simply won't be able to play it. If you go arcade, then everyone can play it and 1/2 will just be very disappointed. I highly doubt this is news to anyone, but it does give a glimpse on how it isn't really possible to make this game for everyone. It will be interesting to see which side wins.

Maybe they can go for sim-ish. For example, the original GRiD had more physics than an arcade racer, but wasn't full-on sim.
 
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24. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:43 Tumbler
 
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:37:
I am not a CR fanboy who would pay money for an autographed piece of used toilet paper

IT'S A TOWEL YOU MONSTER!
 
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23. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:37 Jivaro
 
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)
 
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22. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:30 The Half Elf
 
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?  
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21. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:24 SpectralMeat
 
Mordhaus wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 13:11:
Too late, CR, a lot of us already have...
Can you actually get a refund, or just store credit?
 
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20. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 13:11 Mordhaus
 
TL;DR

We changed the controls to 180 degrees opposite of what we said we were going to have, please don't ask for refunds, please?


Too late, CR, a lot of us already have...
 
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19. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 12:57 Tumbler
 
Frijoles wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 09:58:
As much as I can appreciate them going for realism-ish controls, I couldn't fly worth a damn. Hope it can be changed in single-player at least. Or maybe I'll just be Crew Member #5 on board the big ships.

That is normal with extreme manuevering, the thrusters are fighting to get the ship moving in the right direction while also trying to point you where you want to be. Using smaller inputs will minimize this effect which is what the IFCS should be doing automatically for everyone. I think they were just too ambitious with how little assistance they thought players would need.

It's setup how a sim jockey would want it where you're going to naturally expect to use smaller movements by default and almost never go to extremes. Bone headed decision in my opinion, the flight computer on default should be designed with a [-moron noob at the stick. Those WW2 fighters we're trying to mimic would stall even at high speed if you yanked the stick back, small inputs were the way to fly. But you put someone on a Extreme 3d Pro and they are going to push that thing full left when they want to turn left, no one uses tiny controlled inputs when they first start. It's a learned skill.

What makes this even more hilarious, they IFCS is setup for hardcore simmers, is the default left right on the stick is Roll, not yaw. In space combat you need to have yaw there, roll is close to worthless...no idea why they thought people would be using roll. Maybe they thought the simmers would want to get blown up a lot and take FOREVER to get kills.
 
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18. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 12:46 Razumen
 
Jivaro wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 12:36:
I take it they can't simply make it so a player can choose between "arcade" and "realistic" (complete with fine tuning adjustments to just how real it really is) because one side or the other would have an unfair advantage in PVP?

If they fine tune the game's computer safety assists, then such an option would be irrelevant - people that want arcadey combat would leave them on (I think they're on by default?) while others looking for more control would experiment and turn some of them off for certain situations.
 
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17. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 12:36 Jivaro
 
I take it they can't simply make it so a player can choose between "arcade" and "realistic" (complete with fine tuning adjustments to just how real it really is) because one side or the other would have an unfair advantage in PVP?  
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16. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 12:36 Strango
 
There is a video in the linked story that shows off a couple of different modes of the flight control system. It looks like players should be able to customize the level of assist to suit the current condition and/or player skill.  
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15. Re: Star Citizen's Realistic Flight Explained Jun 19, 2014, 12:23 HorrorScope
 
nin wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 11:58:
Armengar wrote on Jun 19, 2014, 11:56:
the cyclon spacecraft were organic though werent they?

I know they were in the reboot, not sure about the 70s version...


Not in 70's version.

Creston yep, it is going to be hard to please everyone with the flight model. There has to be at least to large camps on both sides. If you go full on sim, there will be a lot of people that simply won't be able to play it. If you go arcade, then everyone can play it and 1/2 will just be very disappointed. I highly doubt this is news to anyone, but it does give a glimpse on how it isn't really possible to make this game for everyone. It will be interesting to see which side wins.
 
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