Spacecraft Propulsion

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utilae
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Spacecraft Propulsion

#1 Post by utilae » Thu Aug 11, 2005 1:57 am

In Moo2 propulsion systems for spacecraft was based soley on travel time. Each new propulsion system researched would take less time to travel, ie be faster.

We could have some different types of propulsion to make things interesting. They would be different routes to go down. Some methods would mean getting into space faster and cheaper, but have no long term benefit because they would take too long to travel to other stars. Some would be far more expensive, but would have the benefit of faster travel to stars.

Here are some ideas for Propulsion Types:
Solar Sail
Description: Propell spacecraft by riding solar winds.
Costs: Low
Tech level: Low
Travel Speed: Low (Possbily Medium based on winds)
Risks: Low

Chemical Rocket
Description: Use rockets to launch satelites into space (like todays rockets).
Costs: High (inefficient/fuel consumption)
Tech level: Low
Travel Speed: Low (slightly better than solar sails)
Risks: Low

Ion Thrusters
Description: Like the current Ion engine technology.
Costs: Low
Tech level: Medium
Travel Speed: Medium (Acceleration is slow, but medium top speed)
Risks: Low

Nuclear Engine
Description: Use nuckear bomb explosions to propel spacecraft.
Costs: High (nuclear bombs)
Tech level: Low
Travel Speed: High (10% speed of light)
Risks: High (fallout, nuclear material/bombs stolen by terrorists)

There would be plenty of strategy to design your ships based on these ideas. For example you could go the solar sail method, it would be very slow and cheap. Chemical rockets are expensive, but much faster for travelling to the moon. Ion thrusters are cheaper than chemical rockets and have better top speed, but are slower to accelerate to such a speed. A Nuclear Engine is the best for travelling to distant stars and planets, but the risks are too high. To avoid fallout on your planet, nuclear engines are best used in orbit (where the fallout won't fall to Earth). Note that I have included current Earth technology, but no FTL drives, etc. Maybe such other types as FTL can be added as we come up with new ideas.

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#2 Post by MareviQ » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:42 pm

How about doing it a bit Moo3 style?
meaning to separate engines for in-system movement, and interstellar travel? We could then use both FTL (or nearly-as-fast-as-light) for interstellar travel, and 'conventional' for in-system movement (like ship-to-ship combat)

but adding to the current, non-FTL set:
Gravitional Manipulation
Description: Dsturbing the shape of the space-time continuum to propel the ship forward (percieved as creating a gravity field in front of the ship that would pull it towards it.)
Costs: Medium (energy consumption)
Tech Level: High
Travel Speed: High (dunno how fast, but like really really fast)
Risks: Medium (gravity field would also pull other objets - the higher the speed, the smaller the risk (samller chance of collision))
Bonus: can be used as a defence against missles and projectiles, reducing the damage (note: wouldn't be able to do anything else during that time)

Psi Drive
Description: Propelling the ship by the power of the mind (i think i've seen a similar technology in the technology tree)
Costs: Low
Tech Levev: High
Travel Speed: Medium (large ships are heavier. but then again, have much larger crew)
Risks: Medium (i don't know if pushing a spaceship with your brain could be harmfull in any way, but my guess is: YES)

note: from what i've gathered, when we start the game we already have the ability to travel to (not-yet-so-distant) stars... so i bet getting to the moon in a kind of no-brainer. I would rather think that different kinds of engines would be used for different purpose craft. Like high-risk high-speed ones for the military defence vessels, high-cost, high-speed, low-risk for main battle fleet, and the low-risk low-speed ones for colonization ships, or trade ships - the ones for which getting somewhere at all is much more important than getting there fast.

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Ship speeds

#3 Post by guiguibaah » Thu Aug 11, 2005 4:54 pm

I'm a little hesitant to give ships the ability to have different engines with different travel times. In Moo2 once you researched the right technology the speed of all your ships was instantly upgraded. This ensured that the player would not have to micromanage a fleet of 2 spaces / turn ships and 3 spaces / turn ships. The same applies for diatance.

I see it working in combat, where certain techs would give ships different speeds, and if you had them in a formation they would default to the slowest speed ship.
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#4 Post by MareviQ » Thu Aug 11, 2005 6:00 pm

The idea that one we have the technology, all ships magically use it is kind of ridiculous...

So i guess that a two-step upgrade could be used for the interstellar engines: fist we research a new engine type, and have to refit ships to use it, but later with other advances in technology, we optimize the new engine, and it just gets faster, without the need for player to do anything. Some time later, another new technology appears, and you actually need to redesign ships to use it, but after some time, it is improved, and so on. For the sake of players sanity, i think that we should include like three totally different kinds of those engines (so any ship would only get redesigned twice, as you start with one), with several technologies that improve it.

ie.: nuclear engines (better energy management, reaction optimalization, hull strenghtening) -> subspace drive (subspace radar, computer optimalisations, subspace bubbles theory) -> hyperspace drive (hyperspace maps, N-space theory, improved N-space path tracing)

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#5 Post by utilae » Thu Aug 11, 2005 10:51 pm

MareviQ wrote: How about doing it a bit Moo3 style?
meaning to separate engines for in-system movement, and interstellar travel? We could then use both FTL (or nearly-as-fast-as-light) for interstellar travel, and 'conventional' for in-system movement (like ship-to-ship combat)
We could still have the strictly system and interstellar engines.
guiguibaah wrote: I'm a little hesitant to give ships the ability to have different engines with different travel times. In Moo2 once you researched the right technology the speed of all your ships was instantly upgraded.
It would be treated like weapons. You get some new engines, then you need to refit or redesign and rebuild to have those engines.
guiguibaah wrote: This ensured that the player would not have to micromanage a fleet of 2 spaces / turn ships and 3 spaces / turn ships. The same applies for diatance.
Maybe a fleet with a mix of speeds can go the speed of the slowest ship.


The main idea I am interested in though is being able to choose between an "expensive/fast engine" or a "cheap/fast/risky engine". So you effectively have the option of getting a faster engine quicker (through cheaper cost or lower tech), but the cost is that there are some risks like with the nuclear engine how you could have fallout on your planet, etc. Maybe even some races could 'ban' such risky engines (who would want such a messy engine to create fallout on their planet).

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#6 Post by Impaler » Fri Aug 12, 2005 3:30 pm

This would be very nice and help making things more interesting Mk I, Mk II, Mk III Drives. Key differences in How the different Drive systems operate and their relative advantages in Cost/Speed/Size/Power-requirements ect would add a lot of interesting choices to ship design.

I see a situation ware the player focuses on only a few key Drive tecnologies for example Graviton Drives for their small nimble Fighters and Ion Drives for use in their heavy Capital ships. Another player might go with Massive Solar Sail Carriers that hold Fushion torch powered Frigates. Their could easily be dozens of different styles of Drive systems spread through the Tec tree, though we would still want all systems to be "Usable" for the whole game they may end up being only a nitch aplication. For example I dont see Rockets being used for anything more then short range Missles in the late game.

Other Drive systems

Improbability Drive: Distorts the laws of Probability to achive quantum displacment of machroshopic objects.
Cost: Medium
Speed: Depends on how risky you want to be, each time the drive is employed their is a change the ship will be destroyed/disapear or some strange random effect will occur. The higher the speed the greater the change. As the Drive becomes for advanced the changes are reduced but never reach zero.
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#7 Post by Rob » Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:11 pm

Impaler wrote: Improbability Drive: Distorts the laws of Probability to achive quantum displacment of machroshopic objects.
Cost: Medium
Speed: Depends on how risky you want to be, each time the drive is employed their is a change the ship will be destroyed/disapear or some strange random effect will occur. The higher the speed the greater the change. As the Drive becomes for advanced the changes are reduced but never reach zero.
Read to much hitchhikers guide to the galaxy?
( Dont know the name in english for sure ) :lol:
I loved that drive... But the Italian restaurant which altered the laws of mathemathic was even better.

If you are searching for some realistic propulsion systems:
http://www.abenteuer-forschung.de/Abent ... fahrt.html
But it is in german. May be some of your german menmbers could translate it. I dont have enough time.
Last edited by Rob on Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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The problem

#8 Post by guiguibaah » Fri Aug 12, 2005 5:13 pm

The problem with having a collection of ships that move at different speeds on the galaxy map is that it will add a *LOT* more micromanagement than would be desired.

If all ships travel on the galaxy map at their own speeds, you will have the fast ships arriving at their destination before the slower ones. If you've created a fleet of fast / medium and slow ships, it will cause your fleet to split apart.

This would be catastrophic if you needed a fleet to take out a vital chokepoint.


If your ships travel on the galaxy map at the slowest speed of the slowest ship then you will have to open the ship fleet and remove all your slower ships if you had to get to a place really quickly. This could be a big headache if you had one non-upgraded Mark 2 hidden with the rest of your upgraded Mark 2's.

And remember Aquitaine's realism argument.


I like the idea of ships with different speeds - the idea is there and it is an interesting one at that. Might I add that, for ship drives, they could also have combat bonuses. Solar sail ships could be very stealthy (they don't emit anything), while the quick and fast rocket-thruster ships create a huge heat signature - perfect for certain missiles.

It most certainly can work in ship combat. Unfortunately, unless someone can program or suggest an easy way to macromanage ships of different speeds I would recommend against the idea.
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#9 Post by MareviQ » Fri Aug 12, 2005 6:22 pm

The in-program solution would be simple : the fleet moves with the speed of the slowest unit in the fleet. It's always been that way. The speed of each vessel could be displayed in the fleet window next to it (in red if it's lower than the fastest ship in the fleet, so that the slowpokes could be easily identified)

But then i had a weird idea: how about adding a misc ship addon called docking arm? It would allow other ships to connect to it (if they also have a docking arm - one ship connection per docking arm, and no sub-leveling - meaning if the ship is using another one as it's engine it can't be connected to any other ships at that time; and only ships larger than the one being pulled could do the pulling) and be 'carried' during the interstellar flights. Think that way: a player can choose to either put engines on all ships, and then micro-manage them (showing the speed of the unit in the fleet window would be a great bonus then) or just put a docking arm on each ship (which would be smaller than any engine; if that is done than the hosts speed is displayed instead) and make a large ship, containing only engines and lots of docking arms - so that when a new engine is discovered, he just changes the 'carrier' ship, and not all the ships in the fleet. Drawbacks would be that when the carrier ship is destroyed, the fleet is left with no means to travel from star to star (tho another carrier could be just sent to pick it up). Another advantage is that you could push more weaponry into the ships.
For example I dont see Rockets being used for anything more then short range Missles in the late game.
And i can't see things like solar sail being used for missles, EVER, so i guess it ain't that bad. Rockets are perfect for missles btw.: easy to mass-produce, low-tech and inexpensive (as they don't need much fuel anyway, they can even be launched from the ship, and use what they have to just correct the direction). So i don't see anything else used for missle engines... tho the player should be given a choice :)

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utilae
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#10 Post by utilae » Sat Aug 13, 2005 7:01 am

MareviQ wrote: The in-program solution would be simple : the fleet moves with the speed of the slowest unit in the fleet. It's always been that way. The speed of each vessel could be displayed in the fleet window next to it (in red if it's lower than the fastest ship in the fleet, so that the slowpokes could be easily identified)
Yes, this is the best way to do it. It might even add strategy in how you design your taskforces. You might have a slow colony ship and super fast battleships to guard it. The battleships cannot rush ahead, they have to fly along side at the same speed.
MareviQ wrote: But then i had a weird idea: how about adding a misc ship addon called docking arm? It would allow other ships to connect to it (if they also have a docking arm - one ship connection per docking arm, and no sub-leveling - meaning if the ship is using another one as it's engine it can't be connected to any other ships at that time; and only ships larger than the one being pulled could do the pulling) and be 'carried' during the interstellar flights.
Yes, nice idea. Other variations of these carrier ships could be:
-a ship that is a frame and engine that fits around other ships
-a ship that houses other ships inside it (classic carrier)
-a ship that tows other ships

Basically these 'carrier' ships would affect the overall movement speed of the taskforce. For example without a tow ship the task force may move slowly. But if you have 1 tow ship for your colony ship this will bring the colony ships speed up to the speed of the battleships, improving the overall taskforce speed to that of the fastest ships in the fleet. You could add more and more tow ships to improve the taskforce speed (there would be a limit I guess, where the effect of using tow ships or other types of carrier ships is diminishing). You would not have to manually assign ships to carrier ships. It would all be calculated.
MareviQ wrote: Drawbacks would be that when the carrier ship is destroyed, the fleet is left with no means to travel from star to star (tho another carrier could be just sent to pick it up). Another advantage is that you could push more weaponry into the ships.
It would make for some interesting strategic options. Destroy all the enemies carrier ships and their other ships will take longer to continue their attack on your other planets and give you some time to build some reinforcements.
MareviQ wrote: And i can't see things like solar sail being used for missles, EVER, so i guess it ain't that bad. Rockets are perfect for missles btw.: easy to mass-produce, low-tech and inexpensive (as they don't need much fuel anyway, they can even be launched from the ship, and use what they have to just correct the direction). So i don't see anything else used for missle engines... tho the player should be given a choice :)
Naturally there will always be newer technologies that may be considered refinements. Though I guess even the solar sail may not be as archaic as it sounds. It might eventually be quite a fast, inexepensive engine that takes up little space (its on the outside).

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#11 Post by Rob » Sat Aug 13, 2005 1:38 pm

utilae wrote:
MareviQ wrote: Naturally there will always be newer technologies that may be considered refinements. Though I guess even the solar sail may not be as archaic as it sounds. It might eventually be quite a fast, inexepensive engine that takes up little space (its on the outside).
Yes, but with some 40 square kilometers of solar sail noone could ever oversight your ship...
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#12 Post by MareviQ » Sat Aug 13, 2005 3:39 pm

just to visualize a bit what i had in mind when i thought of the carrier-towing ships:

A carrier ship alone in space:
Image
I had no time, ability nor will to make a fancy model for the docking arm, so i've just put those boxes sticking out of the hull...


Fleet preparing for interstellar flight:
Image
with one ship already docked, one just about to dock and one closing in to dock an well, with fighters flying around (for a sence of scale mostly, tho probably they should be a bit smaller... whatever)
utilae wrote: Yes, nice idea. Other variations of these carrier ships could be:
-a ship that is a frame and engine that fits around other ships
-a ship that houses other ships inside it (classic carrier)
-a ship that tows other ships
Note, that those ships should be able to 'tow' also the biggest battleships if the player wants it to be that way, so the idea of the ship that houses other ships inside it is a rather missed one, as we want to save resaorces, rather to spend them on building hull large enough to handle anything that we can send to space... For the rest, i think the changes would be purely cosmetic as far as the player is concerned, so that could be assigned to different races (as in: humans builds those towing ones, while another race uses the engine-frame idea...)

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#13 Post by Sandlapper » Sun Aug 14, 2005 3:01 pm

We've already had a good conversation about "tugs", you may want to reread all 3 pages of this thread(I mention tugs near bottom of first page):

viewtopic.php?t=1036&highlight=tugs

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#14 Post by Pasi » Fri Aug 19, 2005 12:43 pm

utilae wrote:
MareviQ wrote: The in-program solution would be simple : the fleet moves with the speed of the slowest unit in the fleet. It's always been that way. The speed of each vessel could be displayed in the fleet window next to it (in red if it's lower than the fastest ship in the fleet, so that the slowpokes could be easily identified)
Yes, this is the best way to do it. It might even add strategy in how you design your taskforces. You might have a slow colony ship and super fast battleships to guard it. The battleships cannot rush ahead, they have to fly along side at the same speed.
Maybe we could have a dialog for breaking apart a fleet according to how fast the ships can go... something like "split fleet at warp [7]", which would split the fleet into 2 fleets... one that has top speed of warp 7 and one that can go over warp 7 ... this would reduce the headache in the case mentioned above :)

or have something like, "allow fleet to break on high speeds" meaning that all ships fly to the destination as fast as they can ... but only when the option is selected
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roads

#15 Post by moxy » Sun Aug 28, 2005 6:01 am

moo2 works the way it does not because it is realistic, but because it eliminates the potential headache of having to inspect every ship in your fleet and find out whose slowing the group down. sure, the headache can be reduced with UI improvements, but at the cost of simplicity. like any good game (FO included) the idea is to sacrifice realism for playability.

another method to eliminate this headache is make engine speed constant, but allow starlanes to be upgraded, basically like civ roads. i know this idea has been kicked around here before, but im not sure of its current status.

i think i like a mixture of these ideas. make faster engine a tech, but keep the number of steps low for simplicity, and make upgrades for existing ships painless, but not instantaneous like moo2. allow one or two levels of starlane upgrade, again painlessly as possible.

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