A freeform space-based realtime strategy game where the player controls groups of starships and fighters. The game is built around a randomly generated starmap which the player must rid of all enemy ships. During this quest, stations around the map can be used to purchase ships, weapons and modules. The enemy will be trying to seize control of your stations, and take the sector for themselves. Through a variety of mission types, you must capture stations and push forward until the Dust Zone is safe once again.

Report RSS Dev Blog #8: You Can Be My Wingman Any Time

This month: fighters learn how to fly together, the station gets a makeover, and, of course, explosions.

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I've been focusing on fighters this month, and decided it was finally time for a new model and textures. So, let's kick off with a picture:


But a new fighter is nothing without some good AI.

AI is a funny thing. And by funny I mean horrifying.

My first attempts this month to get fighters flying around in formation were abysmal. As I watched them fly around in a disorganised cloud, swerving erratically, all I could think was "this is what I've made: flying idiots".

So I installed Homeworld: Cataclysm just to watch how the fighters moved in that game, and noticed something. Homeworld does not care about fighters bumping into each other. It happens rarely enough anyway. In Fleet, the fighters kept trying to avoid hitting each other while also trying to settle into close formation. So I switched off the fighters ability to see each other as obstacles. It didn't exactly solve everything but it suddenly made them look as though they had been to flying school.

A few other AI tweaks (which also made their way to the capital ships) and now things are looking much better.


The fighter isn't the only new model this month.

The more I've looked at the space station, the more I hated it. The final straw was seeing the new Coriolis station in Elite Dangerous. That has a pretty awesome amount of detail in it. I decided to have a third go at building the station and I'm really quite pleased with the results.


Just one more thing on the graphics front - some slightly tweaked explosions. They now have a bit of shape and variation.


As usual, there's been lots of other things going on this month as well - many more AI and UI tweaks, primarily. Internally, ships are able to store queues of AI orders, after a near-complete re-factoring of how the AI works. That's going to become very significant once the UI gets expanded.

The month ahead is looking exciting - I'm hoping to add a bit more gameplay in, so that Fleet will become a more complete experience. Currently, there's an awful lot of functionality, but it's the gameplay equivalent of rough sketches.

So, until next time, spacers...

Comments
WeeGee9000
WeeGee9000

this is the best looking indie that i've seen

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

Wow, thank you!

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HeadClot
HeadClot

What plugin did you use for rendering?

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

What are you referring to specifically? All the screens here are directly from Unity with no plugins. I used DPKit in Lightwave to create the normal maps and textures.

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Nanoelite001

While the swarming cloud of idiots may be detrimental to what you wanted, it could be a useful addition in terms of dodging enemy shots.

I don't really know anything about coding, but would it be possible to add in a trigger for when fired upon that coding is used for the fighters? just asking because it would probably be a lot easier than writing brand new lines of code just for them for them to dodge.

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

In some ways, the cloud did look kind of cool. It was depressing to watch when the fighters were mean to be in formation, but is quite easy to create on purpose as well. I was considering some kind of evasive mode. To reference Homeworld again, there is a nice evasive mode in that game, where fighters maintain formation, but dodge around at the same time. This all needs more thought, but I agree that fighters need to have some defensive options when attacking.

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SquidLord
SquidLord

I am surprisingly interested in giving you money in exchange for Fleet – an emotional position only solidified by the fact that you consulted Homeworld: Cataclysm for inspiration on how to manage the appearance of fighter craft. Anyone inspired by such a superior example of game experience clearly needs money thrown at them.

Ultimately, I have to ask, did you end up going with a 3-D version of the Boids algorithm with projected positions/vectors influenced by observed obstacles or something less agent-centric? Color me curious.

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

Firstly, thank you! Very kind words. It seems like Cataclysm wasn't the most loved of the HW games, but personally I really liked some of the ideas it had, like adding subsystems to your command ship, and the anti-fighter beam frigate. It improved a lot of issues from the original game too - like being able to give orders in the sensor view.

Regarding Boids, your interpretation is pretty much right - in-formation ships chase project points in space. So they don't really have the boids-type awareness of the flock and its average position, or in fact each other. The formation points themselves aren't altered when there are obstacles, but the individual fighter will alter its path to the point if it sees obstacles, so fighters can separate on their own initiative and re-form when they have navigated round the obstacle.

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Rudd
Rudd

very Babylon 5-esque look to everything which I love because it looks very practical and 'plausible' compared to alot of sci fi these days :)

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

Yeah, Babylon 5's style left a lasting impression on me!

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yhoyhoj
yhoyhoj

Very cool station ! But I'm wondering how it can be practical to "land" in a station with a rotating landing bay !

By the way I'm interested in what sort of algorithm you used at first to try to avoid fighters collisions. Was it Boids-type ?

(and sorry for my bad English)

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yhoyhoj
yhoyhoj

I had forgot to read previous comments, shame on me, this has already been answered. Sorry !

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

No problem!

Regarding the landing bay, luckily player's won't have to worry about it. I've thought the same thing - I've always wondered, why not make it a circular landing bay? But then ships would still have to match rotation with the station in order to physically dock.

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Nutter2000
Nutter2000

Looking good :-D
You could try using boid style cohesion and seperation to avoid them colliding but there's the question of whether you want to waste the cycles calculating it.
You could pick one fighter as the lead and use relative points for the others to aim for, iirc that's should give you a decent formation style
Assuming you didn't try that, of course ;-)

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

That's exactly what I'm doing, in fact!

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Nutter2000
Nutter2000

lol cool :-)
I misunderstood, I thought you meant they were still disorganised

glad to hear you got it sorted :-D

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Guest
Guest

Last update more than 6 months, so the game is dead ?

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DiscoJustice Author
DiscoJustice

Nope! :D

I've gone a bit quiet on the blog while real life got busy, but development has not stopped.

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Dust Fleet
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DiscoJustice
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Unity
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