Atmospheric flight

Continuing the discussion from I-Novae: Engine Screenshot Thread! - Lots of Pics!:

I would normally just reply in-topic, but as this is inspiring gameplay commentary, I’ve moved it to a new thread

[quote=“frag971, post:1019, topic:582”]
It would actually be cool if atmospheric flight would be it’s own “minigame” where it’s tricky and dangerous to fly in atmosphere so needs to be done slowly and carefully.[/quote]

Yes, that would make for a nice skill challenge, but because ship movement is a fundamental aspect of gameplay, I would think that most atmospheres would be pretty straightforward, while there should be some atmospheres that could be a real bear to fly through.

For example, the more challenging atmospheric flying would be found at gas giants or other atmospheres that have a lot of energy/turbulence to them. 500km/h hurricanes or just straight 500km/h wind shear. Having to land at a ground facility wihle a hurricane raged on top of it would make for some interesting gameplay. Going to a different facility on the same planet that was not beset by a hurricane should make for a pretty simple approach. Some planets would be covered by hurricanes, and landings would consist of finding a gap, or entering an eye.


We plan on having a separate atmospheric flight model. Initially it’ll be fairly rudimentary but by the time the game ships we hope to make it robust enough to make atmospheric flight a uniquely challenging experience relative to space flight.


I imagine at the start it being a simple linear drag coefficent based on altitude, modified by atmospheric density %, right? After that, as a stretch goal i guess, a decent model on flight where every ship will have their own modifiers where some ships can fly better than others? I don’t think a “realistic simulation of atmospheric flight” is a good idea tho because that would lend to boring gameplay. It just has to “feel” realistic like World of Tanks’ tanks.

Also simulation is probably a bad idea - simply have each ship to have their own behaviour modifiers table and that would only interact with atmospheric pressure (simple 0.00 -> 1.00 range) and maybe wind (simple latteral vector modifier).

And on gas giants the pressure coefficent simply goes beyond 1.00 up to 50.00 at the bottom and let players fly whatever/wherever they want and ships are destroyed by the emergent interaction with ship stats instead of having an invisible destruction wall at an arbitrary depth.

For example my corvette’s shields would be able to withstand up to 2.12 units of pressure, if i go down a gas giant’s atmosphere my shields would slowly start taking damage as i go lower and lower, once shields pop my entire ship would take constant damage based on depth and eventually be destroyed. It should be possible for my corvette to survive for some time, just enough to avoid being shot by the pursuing frigate (which has a tollerance of only 1.67).

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If there is one thing I want to see more than anything else in the atmo flight system it is wind buffeting caused by turbulence. This could be driven by the density of the cloud cover in a certain segment of the planet for example. I do remember seeing some sort of buffeting motion in the old tech demo video but I might be wrong.

Heavier ships would experience less of this buffeting effect, however the force of the air currents on the broadside would still push the ship a certain way which would make for a challenging experience :smiley:

I’m reminded of MS Flight Simulators where your plane would be pushed off alignment with the runway as you approach for landing. Or the Lair of the Shadow Broker in Mass Effect where the ship is following the planet’s terminator and it’s basically non-stop chaotic superstorms all over the planet. :skull:

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How will the controls respond to player input in atmosphere ?
Is it set in stone or it is still in design phase ?

We seen few ships and they seem to be wingless (not that i complain - they look awesome).
So am guessing the flight will be controlled the same way as in space (thrusters doing the work) ?

Or do you plan to implement different flight model in the atmosphere ?

I don’t mind either way just don’t go airplanes in space like Elite did please.
In atmosphere. Sure why not.
But please don’t do that in space.

Wingless objects also generate lift. Especially when they go really fast.

@DirkLarien if you scroll up two posts you’ll find @INovaeKeith’s post in which your questions are answered.

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Yup i know, but wanted to ask anyway

oops i missed it sorry.

If I remember correctly, evochron Mercenary already have a somewhat minigame to enter the atmosphere. You see rings that you have to fly through, or your ship will burn to a crisp/ fail to enter atmosphere.

Let’s not go there. Instead, how about generating a 4D procedural field that provides wind direction and strength that varies over time? Fly into an atmosphere and forces are transferred to your ship, making steering and landing difficult. As you fly deeper into an atmosphere, density increases, making the turbulence that much worse.

Different atmospheres, different turbulence, different densities, different visibility, different challenges. No mnigame, just more environmental stuff to deal with, like planetary rings and… moons.

With the 4D field, the wind strength varies over time at any given location, so you might have landed at a port during a calm period, but a storm may come up that prevents you from safely departing. You may have spotted a valuable resource on a planet surface, but the atmosphere may be so turbulent (at that time) that you can’t get to it. Seasonal variations, day/night variations, etc. Lots of stuff can be done with a basic 4D field.


Sounds great, but how much of INS’s resources should be put in it? How much is necessary to get a satisfying result?

It depends on funding, minimal funding = a basic/simplistic atmospheric flight model most likely.

This is something other space sims are missing out on, despite the heavy presence of wings flaps and other atmospheric flight bobs on star citizen’s ship the flight model is the same as space in their atmospheric racing map.

I recall from a long time ago that regardless of the atmosphere model ship speed will be limited based on altitude to prevent the planet gen being overworked from calculating too much new terrain, while i’d prefer if that was somehow made more gameplay friendly it occurs to me that planets with little or no atmosphere wouldnt translate well to that system. In that case, the flight modeling in-atmosphere should probably not affect the speed limit on the idea that the ships engines are limited by proximity to the mass rather than air resistance, in other words their engines and armor/shield are strong enough to not be limited by the atmosphere. Maybe that mass limitation is low enough that their speeds would never get up to the potentially blow up from atmospheric damage thing

Also a choice to be made is whether to let ships specialize in atmospheric or space flight, or match space and atmospheric conditions for each ship. having ships that perform in either space or the atmosphere might feel overspecialized though, that kind of thing could very well annoy me if it was overdone or not done well.

When i picture the helion flying through the atmosphere i dont feel like it would be very graceful at least compared to the fighter craft of today not aerodynamic in the slightest, but it would make up for it with raw power. I wonder how fun an actual flying brick simulator would end up being.

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Don’t worry, I wasn’t suggesting to use it. Only mentioned it, so that people, who didn’t previously knew about Evochron Mercenary, had a chance to take a glimpse at a game that somewhat did what was mentioned in the opening post’s quote.

Rather than creating a lcoal ‘4D procedural field’ just for your ship, I’d rather have a server-side planetary weather engine (with high/low pressure systems etc.), which then feeds into your ships handling. Because otherwise you’d be generating some type of weather that you see (which probably needs to be synched between clients anyway), and then additionally generate some ‘4D procedural field’ for each ship, which then also needs to be synched between all clients and also the weather, unless you want to encourage dissonance between visible weather and handling, and also dissonance in handling between players (if everyone just generates their own ‘4D procedural field’)

That’s been somewhat mitigated with some of our optimizations and newer codebase; as far as I can tell, you can now scoot pretty fast at ground level and mid altitudes.


The 4D procedural field isn’t for my ship, but for the planet. It’s the weather system that you’re after, but without having to model high and low pressure systems and figure out how they interact. It’s the same technique used for clouds without having to come up with moisture levels, evaporation patterns and air pressures. It’s the same technique used to have mountains and steppes and valleys without having plate tectonics, volcanism or erosion. It’s all client-side and localized, meaning that it can contain very high fidelity data. Just like clouds and terrain.

The real complexity comes in for things that @mattk50 mentioned: moving bits and pieces that represent a significant portion of the ship’s surface area. Those things should alter the ship’s aerodynamics, but would require real work to get right. The fact that Infinity ships seem to lack those things is a win for the team; they don’t have to worry about getting that stuff right. The ships are essentially bricks.

My preference is to just see small ships being more capable in atmospheres. If we assume that atmospheric flight in turbulent air requires either power or maneuverabilty, it is going to be the small ships that win out. They have the best acceleration and the quickest response times. So when mother nature starts battering a ship, the pilot will be able to regain control much more quickly in a small ship. Meanwhile, the large ship is going to be lumbering around. High up, that’s not a big deal, but lower to the ground, it could be a real problem.

So the more energetic the atmosphere, the smaller the ship I want to be in. I don’t have to add gear to it that allows me to operate in atmospheres. Rather, it is the nature of small ships that lets me do well. As always, I hope to avoid gear wars, where victory was already decided in the hangar.

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I expect we’re on the same page here, but just wanted to expand on this a bit.

While of course smaller ships would be much more manoeuvrable, I’d imagine them to be more easily tossed around by high winds. - But then as you said JB, able to recover more quickly.
I would expect bigger ships with higher mass and inertia to be less manoeuvrable but more stable in gusty wind, but if their pilot flies them into winds that are too strong and the ship gets set tumbling, they’d be more difficult to regain control of.

Maintaining a dead straight course in high winds in a small ship would be very difficult but if you just keep pointing where you want to go you’ll get there, but your course won’t be a straight line. The skilled pilot would react dynamically to changing winds and use the wind to their advantage.

Even a low-skilled pilot in a small ship would be able to easily out-manoeuvre a big ship in atmospheres. In high winds the small ship with low-skilled pilot would be difficult to hit as their natural manoeuvrability is complimented by the ship being tossed about on the wind.

Yeah, we’re on the same page. I prefer to see small ships being the vehicles of choice for getting things done on surfaces. They physically scale better against buildings and other surface facilities, and they complicate the task of doing anything on a large scale. That complication is gameplay.

So instead of a 1km-long ship landing and dropping off a 5GW nuclear reactor, that 1km-long ship stays in space and sends multiple 100m-long ships down with bits and pieces of the nuclear reactor that must then be assembled on the surface. Game designers usually just go with the first approach because it’s much simpler to implement (which players have gotten used to) - but the goal is not to present a fiction, but to create gameplay - stuff that occupies and entertains players.

WIth that in mind, I wanted to handicap large ships in active atmospheres (in truth, any atmosphere). All those ships flying down to drop off parts for the nuclear reactor have to face the tumult of crazy winds on each trip. On any given trip, they might lose any one of a dozen different types of parts, for which the 1km-long ship may not have any replacements or backups.

What if ships could transport stuff externally via a sling system? It would allow for much bulkier loads to be transported, but it would also mean that sufficiently violent maneuvers could lose that load. And the load itself may impose maneuvering restrictions. Handling of the ship may degrade with larger loads, especially at the limit of the ship’s capabilities. More flying challenges for players.

First off, welcome to the forums, you must be new :stuck_out_tongue:

The INE is all about procedural generation, remember? You pick a seed, sync a timestamp with the server, and each client generates an entire galaxy using various pseudorandom number generators, noise functions, and what not. No further synchronization needed - because there’s no such thing as truly random numbers being generated by the sort of computers that will be used to play the game.

A 4D procedural wind field is just one more layer to the galaxy generating algorithm, same as star systems, planets, orbital motions, and everything else.

We should try to minimise overlap between this topic and the Capital ships, atmosphere, planet surface and landing topic.

If we assume that big ships (size discussed in the other topic) can’t approach too close to massive bodies, in this topic we can discuss the gameplay surrounding ships inside atmospheres.