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Looking for game development help from the space community

Posted by: CryptoQuick - Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:34 am
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Looking for game development help from the space community 
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Post Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 5:34 am
Hey guys. I noticed there was another thread here about doing a space video game. That's cool, because it shows there's interest in what I'm about to propose. I'm a game developer who has experience inside and outside the mainstream and indie game industry. I've been working on a game design for a near-future RTS (real-time strategy, like StarCraft or Command & Conquer) where you build a space station, much like how the ISS is built, but in addition to those lovely solar array wings and tin-can 4-meter cylinders, there are weapons, fighters, and other lovely RTS-style units.

If you think you're qualified to help design a game, have an interest in the new future that space is taking (I'm a pretty big 'Flexible Path' proponent), and are willing to participate in what promises to be a very fun project, let me know.

Especially necessary in this phase of development are concept artists, folks who would have fun drawing space stations, weapons, spacecraft, etc.

PM me your email address if you're really serious about joining our team.

Also, just a general question I'd like to ask everyone, which technologies do you think would be present in a world 30 years from now in a world where spaceflight is cheap and common? In addition, if there was a reason for conflict in space in the near future, what would it be about? Who would be the major players?

I have my own answers to those questions, of course, but I'd definitely like to hear everyone else's.

Here's a screenshot of current development; yes, I use Unity3D. :)

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:40 am
Id love to see something spinning giving gravity :P

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 7:45 am
There's an idea, Rob! I hadn't thought of that. Something like the inflatable Nautilus-X concept, or perhaps something larger? I'll have to think of what role that structure might play in the game.


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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:06 am
I think Burt Rutan mentioned something in the Black Sky DVD. He had a picture or something? Like a giant ring spinning around... I say put a Tesla Coil on it and go full C&C Red Alert! :P

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 4:29 pm
CryptoQuick wrote:
Also, just a general question I'd like to ask everyone, which technologies do you think would be present in a world 30 years from now in a world where spaceflight is cheap and common? In addition, if there was a reason for conflict in space in the near future, what would it be about? Who would be the major players?

I have my own answers to those questions, of course, but I'd definitely like to hear everyone else's.


I think for spaceflight to be cheap and common in 30 years we will have to be well into the age of fully fledged nanotech and have at least 3 big space elevators down here on planet earth. As to conflict it tends to happen down here either over resources or political/religious Swiftian Lilliputian type conflicts. If we get into space in a big way resources wont be a problem for a long time certainly more than 30 years so you will be left with political/religious ideologues causing problems for the rest of us. So come the nanotech revolution put the Politicians, Priests and Lawyers against the wall and shoot them. :twisted: Tho not necessarily in that order just in case the lawyers get the others off. :wink: :twisted:

There you are a conflict idea have the Socialist Technocrats(ST's) who want to provide a plentiful high standard living for all thru use of AI's Robots etc against the Politicians, Priests and Lawyers(P2L's) who want to keep artificial scarcity going so that they can have a hierarchical society where everybody knows their place.

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 9:25 pm
SANEAlex wrote:
CryptoQuick wrote:
Also, just a general question I'd like to ask everyone, which technologies do you think would be present in a world 30 years from now in a world where spaceflight is cheap and common? In addition, if there was a reason for conflict in space in the near future, what would it be about? Who would be the major players?

I have my own answers to those questions, of course, but I'd definitely like to hear everyone else's.


I think for spaceflight to be cheap and common in 30 years we will have to be well into the age of fully fledged nanotech and have at least 3 big space elevators down here on planet earth. As to conflict it tends to happen down here either over resources or political/religious Swiftian Lilliputian type conflicts. If we get into space in a big way resources wont be a problem for a long time certainly more than 30 years so you will be left with political/religious ideologues causing problems for the rest of us. So come the nanotech revolution put the Politicians, Priests and Lawyers against the wall and shoot them. :twisted: Tho not necessarily in that order just in case the lawyers get the others off. :wink: :twisted:

There you are a conflict idea have the Socialist Technocrats(ST's) who want to provide a plentiful high standard living for all thru use of AI's Robots etc against the Politicians, Priests and Lawyers(P2L's) who want to keep artificial scarcity going so that they can have a hierarchical society where everybody knows their place.


I was thinking along similar lines. It's good that you've come to a similar conclusion.

My idea is more rooted in RLVs, propellant depots, lagrangian 'gateway' stations, that sort of thing, in lieu of megastructures.

I do have a faction acting as a disruptive force to Earth's orbital assets, in addition to their terrestrial economy. Basically, this faction took control of near earth asteroid mines (NEOs requiring low delta-V to access). The mines themselves are worked by machines created by an in-situ utilization (ISRU, living off the land) factory. They need not be self-replicating, just add a few humans and an orbital machine shop, that sort of thing. I'm trying to keep the technologies used manageable and plausible, you know?

Of course, there's a faction which protects Earth's orbital assets, terrestrial economy, and assists in imposing their political interests.

Finally, with the advent of ISRU technologies, a self-sustaining group of moon colonies has also sprung up.

Though these might sound far-fetched to become reality in 30 years, but mind you, these were not created solely by government programs; United States and Chinese governments put a great deal of investment in commercial efforts which aimed to create sustainable orbital infrastructure. This led to the rapid development of the "low-hanging fruit"; NEOs, EML1, and the Lunar poles.

That's my take on how we could get a good amount of development in space in 30 years, and further, why there might be orbital conflict in the future.


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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Thu Dec 08, 2011 11:01 pm
I don't know whether or not you plan on making the orbital dynamics at all realistic, but you have to consider that an optimistic 30-year timeline should see lots of (unmanned) VASIMR shuttles traveling around on 10MW nuclear reactors. the strategy for getting from point A to point B in one of those is actually pretty challenging, as it is for any EP spacecraft, even more than traditional ones. You'll also have to account for attrition due to debris and of course solar storms are a much bigger deal when your infrastructure exists beyond protection of Earth's magnetic field.

while it's extremely unlikely that there will be more than at most 1 fully-operational space elevator in the time frame you're looking at, if you wanted to expand to 100 years, it's easy to imagine china and the USA/Europe both controlling separate space elevators and fighting proxy wars in space using clever kinetic tricks and electronic/digital warfare. that or just go full aliens, it's very unlikely that 2 space powers would ever want to fight a war as it would be very easy to destroy all of their (orbital) assets just from Earth with interceptors..

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Sat Dec 10, 2011 9:18 pm
I'll bite. Here's a possible background story. Note that while I'm a scientist, the below is entirely fiction containing barely any scientific content whatsoever. It's inspired by the giant pile of science fiction I have in my book case, not by what I read professionally.

2030. That's when it really started. Sure, the decades before that were no picnic. Worsening economic conditions, political upheaval. New England and California seceding from the USA, a few years before the whole thing collapsed into a collection of loosely affiliated states. The Russian Uprising, ferociously beaten down by the Putin government. China's increasing lack of space and resources, and bouts of civil unrest. Europe's struggle with fundamentalism and xenophobia, fuelled by the economic downturn. Brazil's brief moment of glory, followed by collapse. Africa worst off as always, with war, disease and famine taking their daily toll.

But 2030. That's when the Southern Federation, Middle East, southern Europe and parts of China, who had been struggling to keep their agriculture running anyway, really ran out of fresh water. That's when erosion had washed and blown away enough of the Earth's soil to make a difference to what was available in supermarkets. That's when the various successors to the Middle Eastern oil wells effectively ran out. That's when the tundras of Canada and Siberia began to melt, adding millions of tons of methane to the already greenhouse-gas laden atmosphere, leading to a global ecological collapse within the space of only a few years.

2030 was when the great columns of refugees started fleeing the areas worst affected by the global Crash. Borders were closed, and trespassers shot. Small arms manufacturers made record profits. Fleeing militaries started to fight their way into less affected areas. Nations and borders ceased to exist, and governments and the rule of law turned into distant memories. The middle classes slipped into poverty and a daily fight for survival. The poor simply died.

The rich? The rich did what they'd always done. They retreated to higher ground. Switzerland, Colorado, secluded tropical island paradises, well-defended farms in places that still had soil and sufficient unpolluted water available. It wasn't long though before those places weren't safe any more either, and even the rich's grasp on life became tenuous. And so they fled once more. They fled to the ultimate high ground. Orbit.

Of course, that didn't come overnight. For all the public denials, the elite had seen most of the Crash coming. Governments and corporations had been spending more and more money on space flight in the decades leading up to the Crash, despite the economic hardships. Politicians claimed they were creating jobs. Critics countered that it was simply a diversion from the ever worsening economic problems. Conspiracy theorists talked about aliens. No one guessed the real reason behind the reusable launchers, the heavy lift rockets, the space rated nuclear reactors, the orbital fuel depots, tugs, space stations, zero-g hotels. No one saw it for what it was. An escape hatch.

So now humanity is dying on Earth, but finally living in space. It's not easy out here though. Space is a hostile environment. It's dry, empty, extremely cold in the shade and hot in the sun, and once you head out to the Moon and beyond, there's radiation to contend with. We're getting raw materials from the Moon now, but we don't have a lot of industrial capacity. Space ship production on the ground has all but ceased, and we're still getting our space industries up and running. So are the others. Former governments, multinationals, a bunch of idealists who open source all their designs, heck, even the occasional alien-hunting conspiracy theorist. And here too we fight. We fight over fuel, food, oxygen, manufacturing capacity, finished products, raw resources in more convenient orbits, anything really. I guess if there's a winner, they'll be able to wait it out and recolonise Earth one day, after everybody downstairs is dead. I doubt I'll see the day though. But if you want to try...

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Sun Dec 11, 2011 3:47 am
That's a very dark and cynical projection.

Were that to happen, the technological and industrial base required to support any kind of space program wouldn't exist. Even environmentally screwed up, the Earth will always be more habitable than anywhere else in the solar system. It might not support 8+ billion, but your chances are better here. Its cheaper to buy politicians and an army on the ground than a "secrut base" on the Moon.

Bigger stories have been hung on weaker premises than that, but I don't think "its the end of the world as we know it" is a good one for a High Frontier game. IMO.

I also have reservation about any kind of game/simulation set in the near future of space which perports to be realistic that has the word "combat" in its description. Any kind of engagement in LEO all the way up the the L-points is going to badly contaminate near-Earth space with debris to the point where nothing will be able to remain functional until craft get armored or have some kind of "shields". And this is ignoring the fact that space is so hostile, that you really don't need to have people gunning for each other to make it "interesting". If you need to make it competitive, make coming up with the most DV efficient trajectory solutions vs. transit time the object of the game. etc. If you still need a "shooter", make a scenario where your craft is transiting the Leonids field and your automatic micro-meteor avoidance and laser defense system has broken down and you have to operate it manually!


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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Sun Dec 11, 2011 8:08 am
I fully agree that my scenario is utterly unrealistic. But the only way I could explain an orbital war in 2030 was to take all that's wrong with the world today, add a healthy dose of Baxter and a good helping of Barnes, and finish it off with some New Space to taste. And heck, it's still better than an interdimensional portal on Mars that allows monsters to cross over into our world from Hell ;-).

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Sun Dec 11, 2011 12:42 pm
JamesG wrote:
That's a very dark and cynical projection.

And that's why I think it is awesome!

Lourens wrote:
I fully agree that my scenario is utterly unrealistic. But the only way I could explain an orbital war in 2030 was to take all that's wrong with the world today, add a healthy dose of Baxter and a good helping of Barnes, and finish it off with some New Space to taste. And heck, it's still better than an interdimensional portal on Mars that allows monsters to cross over into our world from Hell ;-).


Better to write/read about that kind of nightmare future, then to see even parts of it come true. :wink:

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Mon Dec 12, 2011 9:00 pm
Here's some long worded ideas for units. I'm basing this off of all the other RTS games i've played over the years. Also, since I don't know what type of factions you will have in the game, I'll just make some generic space units that each faction could all have their own version of.

Construction units:
Supply vehicles - huge rockets, or magnetically accelerated payloads sending materials into LEO (a Space Elevator could be some bonus creation that the player would work up to achieve/build which would increase the rate of supplies being sent from Earth)
Orbital Docks - space station with a shipyard for constructing other spacecraft
Solar power station - just large arrays of solar panels that beam energy via microwaves to nearby units
Construction vehicles - small pods with manipulator arms and tool that assemble larger craft at the orbital docks (1 or 2 crew, or just remote or robotic) I’m picturing the pods in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Research station modules – use these to research new technologies and upgrades for other units.
Habitat modules – for housing crew, need to be regularly supplied with food and other stuff
Orbital greenhouse – add an orbital greenhouse to your habitat modules to make them self sufficient
Light attack ships – use light kinetic or directed energy weapons to destroy/disable enemy ships
Orbital troops – Spacewalking troops with propulsion unit backpacks and armed with light kinetic weapons. Can possibly board enemy ships by hacking into their airlocks.
Heavy attack ships – armed with very large kinetic weapons and powerful directed energy weapons.

I picture that all of these “units” can dock together to form large space stations. So I’m using the phrase “ship” and “station” kind of for the same thing. For example, a player could have two large space stations, one with the orbital docks, research modules, habitats, and solar power as well as a couple light attack ships for protection… the other space station would have a heavy attack ship as well as house orbital troops and several light attack ships.


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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Mon Dec 12, 2011 11:14 pm
Lourens wrote:
I fully agree that my scenario is utterly unrealistic. But the only way I could explain an orbital war in 2030 was to take all that's wrong with the world today, add a healthy dose of Baxter and a good helping of Barnes, and finish it off with some New Space to taste. And heck, it's still better than an interdimensional portal on Mars that allows monsters to cross over into our world from Hell ;-).


If you like Baxter you might be interested to know that he is working on a project with Terry Pratchett called the Long Earth about travelling to parallel Earths. Its something i have wondered about if the Multiverse exists which it could as its one possible solution to the twin slit experiment it might be easier to travel sideways than to travel interstellar distances even if FTL is possible in our Universe.

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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Tue Dec 13, 2011 2:30 am
Except all the other yous won't appreciate you crashing their universe and hogging all the ice cream.


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Post Re: Looking for game development help from the space community   Posted on: Tue Dec 13, 2011 11:05 am
Sorry for taking so long to reply, guys, been a very busy weekend. I've got some stuff typed out, but it's not ready yet, and I'm about to crash for the day. I just want you all to know that there's some great ideas here, and uh, before we continue, two things that I've noticed is that, the date I had in mind was 30 years from now, which is more like 2042 (not 2030), and the other thing was that ... man, so tired... oh yeah, this isn't going the post-apocalyptic route. more on this later. zzzz


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