Depicting spacecraft drives

Continuing the discussion from Balancing flight mechanics:

[quote=“Lomsor, post:54, topic:513”]
Well how about the 2010 “lithring up cooking pads” … that’s what I had in mind.[/quote]

They’re still rocket engines, specifically humongous ion engines. Here’s a picture of the NASA Evolutionary Xenon Thruster (NEXT) firing.

The movie 2010 used that look because it is what ion engines look like when firing.

I’ve rationalized the warp drive such that it is a field effect that permeates the ship. So there aren’t any localized thrusters and such to be damaged or destroyed. I’d probably favor something like glow strips that run across the hull in some nice aesthetic way, and glow more intensely at higher power levels. The sort of thing used in the Tron movies.

I only reference that for the glowy strips, not the aerodynamic shape. As far as I’m concerned, spaceships should be spheres.

Atmospheric ships are a different animal. They should be near-conventional aircraft. They should be aerodynamic, have engines that are tailored for the environment they’re flying in, have orbital capability, etc. It’s the ship that everyone wants to play with.

Imagine needing to fight in the atmosphere of a planet with a hazy, methane-rich atmosphere. You’d configure your fighters with liquid oxygen and methane-burning engines. The engines would magically be efficient jet engines at lower speeds, but capable of getting the ships to orbital velocities so they could get back to their carriers or some other retrieval boat. The amount of oxygen you can pack into your fighters determines the flight time. For game purposes, that could be either practically unlimited (a couple hours) or severely limited (ten minutes). In any case, you’d get rocket trails, smoke and flame, all that good stuff. The engine effects would be specific to the type of engine and the fuels that it burns.

The flight time might also be determined by the atmosphere in which you’re flying. Depending on what can be found in the atmosphere (or even the seas), flight time could be longer or shorter. In an atmosphere with neither fuel nor oxidizer, you’d have to carry both, restricting flight times.

Bodies without atmospheres would allow warp ships to fly right down to the surface.

I’m not a fan of this, sorry! This precludes the suggestion that some ships are incapable of entering certain locations, which in my opinion is against everything Infinity stands for.

I do like the idea of glowy strips for warp travel, or something, though. Otherwise, I’m fine with the magical glowing thruster that was clearly used in the 2010 Tech Demo. Admittedly, that was a long time ago, but if they had independently firing thrusters working then, there’s no reason they can’t do it now!

[quote=“Sab1e, post:2, topic:520”]
I’m not a fan of this, sorry! This precludes the suggestion that some ships are incapable of entering certain locations, which in my opinion is against everything Infinity stands for.[/quote]

I think you’re overstating the design goal. In Infinity, capitals cannot land on a planet. The reason for that is not some structural limitation, but a desire for better gameplay. So too is my preference for a game to differentiate between atmospheric craft and space craft. They are quite different operating regimes, just as operating in various liquid and solid environments is different.

If every ship can do every task, then there’s not much point in changing ships. Larger ships would just mean “more”, which is a banal structure for gameplay. I advocate small ships without jump drives, and required crew on large ships for that reason. Gameplay should fundamentally change when working with different tools and entering new environments, something that many people on the old forums just didn’t believe in. Too many people there thought the solution to every possible design problem was to figure out how players could blow up something.

No, but they can hover over the surface.

So long as you’re not suggesting that one cannot operate in the environment of the other, I see no problem with this. It’s one more variable to differentiate ships, which is always a good thing.

That a ship can do something does not necessitate that it can do that thing well or even competently.

You’re better off getting a hauler, but there’s no reason you can’t do a trading run in your frigate or, to combine the two, fit it as a blockade runner. Your frigate-cum-hauler will never perform anywhere as well as a dedicated hauler, even if you emptied it out of everything that made it a frigate, but it can do the job.

Whereas specialized ships takes away from the sandbox and leads to the just as banal paths and tiers that we see in games like EVE, Vendetta and Elite.

Which kind of goes against the whole “no artificial restrictions” thing that the devs seem to be keen on.

Can I pick this up?

The OP argument (as I understood it – FTL ought to be propellentless) made me think of this old concept art:

Later revision:

By Vaughan Ling, whose blog moved on to He has other websites; google his name for more of them.

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I was thinking about the warp drive in the current Infinity: Battlescape prototype and it occured to me that it is a “stutter warp” drive. This type of drive uses technology that teleports a ship relatively short distances (say a few hundred meters) but does so tens or hundreds of times per second. This results in an inertialess drive that allows FTL travel by having a real space velocity much below light speed.

The reason I believe the drive in the prototype acts as a stutter warp drive is a technical one and based entirely upon collision detection. The game cannot do collision detection on all points between the ships location between frames so the ship really does teleport through the game space tens of times per second.

This seems like a good fit between fiction and fact and pretty good “handwavium” to explain why ships in warp can sometimes pass completely through objects like asteroids without hitting them.