Feedback: Driving in the Scale of Planets

I haven’t had the same intuition for the planetary engine until I watched this specific transition. This one really drove the scale in for me when you see the large scale battle going on taking up so little space.

I also worry that not enough people realize that the planets are to full scale. When I saw the 2010 tech demo, I didn’t realize that it was all to scale. When I see it now, not everything feels to scale, and I don’t think it’s the velocity - I think it’s a combination of a lack of detail and atmospheric perspective on the earth-like planet. Detailed clouds will help.

Compare the following:

It doesn’t quite feel the same intuitively. Above, the atmosphere looks pretty large but also thin, making everything look closer. Below, in the real footage, huge mountains look like they’re compressed against the surface of the planet. Above, they look like they’re sticking up pretty substantially.

Also, the Tech Demo from 2010 still has a prettier atmosphere! : P Also, it’s okay to show stars - the human eye would adjust to be able to see them with the sun still in the peripheral, unlike a camera.

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I don’t know if there are any specific measurements for the moons in the prototype, but I must assume that they’re smaller than Earth, so landscapes might appear larger on a smaller world. Also I presume different levels of gravity and seismic activity would influence things such as peaks of mountain ranges (as a real world concept at least).

Even if that’s the case, you want the gut instinct of viewers to be “holy shitballs this game is massive,” so that they buy the game. So, visual tricks to drive in the scale are what I am talking about.

The tech demo felt more realistic with the atmosphere’s thickness and color. I am also wondering if the atmosphere should be more compressed than it is, since in the himalaya shot it looks paper thin even though you’re already pretty close to the earth.

I think it’s also the detail level. There are a lot of tiny details visible from a distance in the himalaya shot. This might be harder to achieve graphically, but would be well worth it.

They way they did it with their HDR is good in my opinion … but offtopic.

Terrestrial planet is the size of Earth. Gas Giant is about the same size as Jupiter. Distances between the objects aren’t comparable to our solar system tough (Saturn or Jupiter Moon distances), those have been shrunk down for cinematic Kickstarter effect. This info comes directly from the devs.

Other then that I feel clouds would help, but not as much as you might think. There isn’t a lot one can do to just see the scale. One has to experience it. That’s what we heard from people playing the game repeatedly.

Clouds would be a reference frame after one has explored how big they are, not by default.

We only know how big earth is because we live there and if we see a continent we know it takes hours and hours to drive with a car.
If bet a lot of people don’t know how small mars is comparable to earth and how big Venus. And those are in our Neighbourhood and not some alien, never seen, procedural planets.

I think this isn’t that much of a problem. If someone says “Oh those planets are tiny!”. Just tell him: “Come play a round”. And fly in a Bomber squad with him. I think after one round of play he’ll have a much better understanding of the scale of the objects he played with because he can see the region he was just flying in for 10 minutes from orbit and it’s miniscule.

Lomsor, this is literally just me saying “hey, we should do what we can to make sure that the planets feel to scale on a gut level very quickly.” It’s the immediate “holy crap!” vs. “I’m gonna go check something else out now.”

I.e. I felt the scale when Flavien flew into the dogfight and it was just this little tiny, minuscule area that this fight of miles was taking place. That drove it in.

That’s why detail from a distance makes it feel more real. I think that might be what is actually going on here.

Yes but I think that only worked because you watched dogfights before and saw what the general distance between them are. If you didn’t knew that, it wouldn’t have had the same effect.

This is what I think is going on here.

I’m saying that I think there isn’t a general way to make them feel big from the gut level, there’s only one exception, showing Earth.

If you want to show off scale you need to first experience something happening and then view that from another perspective.
So if you want to use that effect from above to show the scale of this planet you would make a video showing the cockpit with the human inside zooming out to a Helion, zooming out to an attack squadron of Helions. Then showing a fight.
Then you can put in the scene you linked above from the Stream #2.

What might help, at least for the Earth-like moon, would be the addition of seas, buildings, trees and forests. All those things will give a better sense of scale because they give us something to compare. We know how big a wave or a tree or a window normally is.

Edit: All those things are planned by the Devs with minimum funding.

Erm. No. Forests are a really high stretch goal for instance. Past the 800k Clouds stretch goal. We may or may not see single trees. Big factories and an ocean will probably exist at release though. Waves on the other hand …

The prototype already has placeholder trees. I would expect them to remain. Placeholders are better than nothing IMHO.

What are you taking about? Waves already exist. They can be seen in the KS video. And the devs were talking about implementing an impostor system (which is used to place many trees (aka forest) with much less impact on memory and GPU processing).

One thing that also distorts size of everything is the speed you are traveling. The ships in the videos are going really fast when in warp and stops ridiculously fast when exiting, if you’d travel in “normal” speed from planet to rings, or planet to planet (as someone already said, planets and moons are closer to each other atm because of cinematic feeling) then it would take quite a while and it would give a better scale on how big things are (I think bluedrake did one video when he went from planet to rings without using warp and that took quite a while), though normal in game speed (what is it, like mach 3 in atmo?) is still super super fast, more (current age) realistically would be to start out at sub speed of sound when on the surface until you reach higher atmo, just that would draw out the distance feeling quite a bit.

Experiencing true scale is all about relativity. How do you know if something is big? Because you compare it to something you know. Clouds would actually help because you know how large clouds are and their height over the ground. It would add a lot of immersion.

We know how clouds are on Earth …

I think we have to have a way to make all kinds of celestial bodies relateable, not just earth like worlds.


If you want to experience realistic scales, you have to use familiar speeds. The lowest speed in the prototype, at graduation 1, is 250 m/s. That’s airplane cruise speeds, and in the proto it feels horribly slow. But aim your ship over a desert at the mountains in the distance at this speed, and I guarantee you’ll feel the realistic scale of the planets.

The Helion’s propulsion is 7g iirc ( and 4-5g laterally ), but it’s able to pull 50-100gs for a short period of time (a second or two) with the turbo boost.


Right, I know. I know the speed throws it off somewhat. I’ve just been trying to solve it a bit like a puzzle, in case there are any easy tricks that might make it feel larger.

I believe you on the size. Lol. I’m just trying to find whatever it is that makes it feel smaller when you’re just sitting there looking at it from space - it should feel just as big in that case. The dusty moon looks full size from space.

I’m just trying to figure out in case it’s an easy adjustment. Otherwise it’s not so big of a deal that I want to stress you guys out about it. Lol.

Disregarding traveling speed, it might also be that all the planets/moons are way too close to each other atm (as far as I know they are closer than they should be at least).

On the subject of speed and scale near the surface; those Hellions are what? ~30 meters long? That’s pretty big. Bigger than you’d think from just looking at them.

Using velocity to show true planet size is just not an option for a game where you need to get from one side of that planet to the other in a reasonable amount of time.

There are other ways to convey scale, one is to show man-made structures and the sheer amount of them that can be put on a planet. Weather is another scale conveying concept, weather systems are huge and most people understand the scales involved, passing through one of them might induce some scale. However these options are off the table for the amount of funding recieved.

Only thing I can think of for IBS at this time that is doable, is trees, lots of trees, different types of trees and countless woodlands…

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Yep, I was looking at that too - they are absolutely gigantic.

Any familiar objects would help drive in the scale cheaply. Also, if the mountains are much taller than the himalayas, I think it would help once clouds are in and the mountains are constantly poking above a relatively thin layer of clouds.

They’ll have time and money to do a lot down the line, the game engine is too cool, the gameplay will be too much fun and the game itself is too exciting not to get more funding.

With increased publicity it should go quite well.