Inter-Stellar/Planetary Travel

Break-off from Exotic Space Object thread:

This thread is dedicated to something that in a game such as Infinity, where an entire galaxy is ready to be explored, must must exist in one form or another. Namely, well, that’s up to you during this discussion. You may see it as hyperdrive, warpdrive, jumpengine, etc etc etc. Granted, the game can limit the speed of ships to just under c, but that would mean you would spend potentially your entire life watching your ship scream across the galaxy to reach the next star. That would be boring. To eliminate this, some form of traveling vast distances in a relatively short amount of time is a necessity for making this game plausible.

Here is a link to Theoretical drives that have been hypothesized largely by the Sci-Fi community.

As you can see, there are many different types of drives that could be used.

For this discussion, this can be broken into two separate forms of hyper/warp/jump/drive/engine.

  1. Stationary:
    Stationary drives would be something along the lines of a Stargate, Wormhole, etc. In the (terrible) game X:Rebirth, there are inter-planetary ‘highways’ that accelerate the ship between areas in a sector, as well as Warpgates, that instantaneously transport the player to different sectors.

    What are your thoughts on stationary transportation modes? Obviously, this type would only be used in ‘core’ sectors, and it would be interesting if major corporations would be able to build their own gates.

    Two way or one way? I read a sci-fi recently that has a form of gigantic gun that ‘catapults’ the ship and potentially an entire fleet to their destination. So ‘gates’ as gigantic rings of stabilized wormholes/whatever aren’t necessarily the only way to handle this.

    For me personally, Stationary transportation modes would be okay, just as long as they don’t have anything to do with rings with stabilized wormholes in it, as I have played countless hundereds of hours on X3TC and watched the entire series of Stargate: SG1 and Stargate: Atlantis multiple times, and I have seen enough of big glowing blue blobs of instantaneous travel stuff for one lifetime. :stuck_out_tongue: I kid, of course (about stabilized wormholes), but the concept would not be original for me.

    There are balance issues to be discussed as well. Stationary drivers would be good for beginning players to get around core sectors.

    However, and this is true for two-way gates, collisions with other ships is an inevitable by product of two way traffic down a one lane street. I’ve been destroyed many times entering or leaving a gate in X3, and destroyed many more myself with my own capital ships.

  1. Mobile
    Mobile drives are your more conventional, bring us to warp-speed Scotty drives. These drives are installed on the actual space-faring vessel. There are several aspects to consider, even before discussing the technology:

    Should all ships, regardless of size, be able to equip drives? If so, should all ship travel differently or the same (i.e., small ships travel faster/slower than big ships)? Should interception of ships traveling be possible? Should trips be instantaneous, or take time? Can smaller ships piggy-back rides on bigger ships? Can the trip be interrupted? Should combat during travel be possible, etc etc? Most of these are balance issues.

    Should there be hyper-space? In a lot of sci-fi, as I know you are aware, there is a form of an extra dimension that one can enter to travel quickly. There are basically three types:

    1 - Homeworld: In Homeworld, capital ships could create hyperspace windows. Literally windows (rectangular blue ones), and travel into them. They could be interrupted en-route to their destination, but actually fighting or even changing course in hyperspace was impossible.

    2 - Stargate: In Stargate, one could increase the speed or perhaps even direction, but fighting was still not possible.

    3 - Babylon 5: In B5, one could enter via gates or hyperspace drive into virtually a different universe. Fighting, changing course, and getting lost is all possible in Hyperspace.

    Hyperspace, to me, is not an ideal situation, but so prevalent that it is worth discussion.

    For me personally, something along the lines of Star-Trek with their warp drives would be more plausible, but wouldn’t allow for combat (AFAIK), and was uninterruptible. In the same sci-fi I was reading, ships were able to create a distortion field around themselves to allow their main engines to accelerate the ship several times faster than c. This led to interesting mechanics for combat. One could use the ship as a spear and ram other ships, and combat was possible, but only in certain directions. Firing with projectile weapons was possible, but beam/laser weapons wouldn’t work in any direction except backwards. Firing forwards could potentially destroy your own ship. :stuck_out_tongue:

So what are your thoughts? Remember, this is a sci-fi, and as long as we can’t travel like ‘they’ can in the books and TV shows, anything is theoretically possible within reason.

1 Like

Unless the one way street is a intelligently managed 5-dimensional construct. There is literally no reason why, if you have the technology to exceed the speed of light, you can’t manipulate the arrival times and vectors of ships coming through the gate to avoid unintentional collisions with ships going into the gate.

If even free reign over time and space in insufficient to avoid collisions, simply move the ship along another dimensional axis in a temporary fashion. This may be more realistic than instantaneous interstellar travel.

Anyway, to reiterate some of the points made on the old forums, this is what seemed to me as the most commonly accepted hypothesis on how the MMO would work:

1 - Government interstellar jump gates between the 3 cores, and possibly between large NPC hubs within each core.

2 - Corporate interstellar jump gates between, for example, a corporation’s (NPC or player TBA) headquarters and key resource location. I remember some of the lore mentioning a NPC corporation “mining” exotic matter from a black hole on the far end of one of these.

3 - Fuel-using jump drive providing instantaneous transit between stars, fitted to every single player-owned ship in the game, effective range and fuel usage varying between designs. In theory any drive would be able to cross the Galaxy in a single jump, it’d just be very likely indeed to actually appear at a different star than the one it was aiming for, not necessarily as far away. This, combined with limited fuel production equipment fitted to every single player ship serves the gameplay purpose of never leaving you completely stranded in an empty system, and the technical purpose of not having to track locations in interstellar space.

4 - Fuel-less warp drive providing the Alcubierre-like effect of shortening (warping) the distance between two points in space thus increasing the effective speed of your ship. Doing this would in no way impede combat, assuming another ship is able to catch up to you, as all things in space are relative to the observer.

Oh and on that note…

This effect only occurs if travelling faster than the speed of light relative to The Observer, in other words it doesn’t.

Well… I have been wrong about physics before, but that is my understanding of it.

I was quoting from the sci-fi I was reading, The Myriad in the Tour of the Merrimack series. They had a ‘magic’ distortion field that made things ‘work’. :stuck_out_tongue:

This would be one way to work around it. X3 certainly never implemented this.

I’m not a huge fan of non-stationary instantaneous travel. For me, the journey is just as important as the destination. Furthermore, instantaneous travel would tread on strategic issues. Being able to instantly transport a fleet completely negates any sneak attacks on an unguarded target, not to mention logistics in general. No need to heavily protect a convoy, just keep all your fleet in one spot and jump in if it’s under attack. Corporation/Empire boundaries would be nearly meaningless, assuming the boundaries extend beyond a single planet or solar system, as one could jump in/jump out. No border patrols. The only way to counter act this is a huge array of anti-jump fields.

I’ll get around to more later.

Anyone remember JB’s warp test program? That seemed to be a pretty effective way of travelling between planets, using the proximity of an object to limit speed. The important thing with this is it could allow you to travel extremely fast once away from a planet, but remain relatively still compared to a neighbouring ship, so combat could still work.

I would prefer interstellar travel to work differently to that, in order to recognise the vastly greater distances involved. There should be some sense that it takes a lot more effort to cross light-years than interplanetary distances.
I suspect some sort of jumpdrive would be the most convenient solution, although I would have no problem with some fixed accelerators (hopefully seamless?) in more civilised systems. That could also provide a reason to go to the core systems, if technology there could catapult you out in new directions more easily than flying there on your own.
With regards to jumpdrives, my personal taste leans towards something more than “click here on the map, then click the magic jumpdrive and hope you have enough fuel”. Perhaps something that makes the player consider their course more carefully, or even have a small role in plotting it for greater efficiency in some way. Nothing too brain-taxing, but something to do that makes interstellar travel more of an event.


While I’m not saying that instantaneous travel is bad, to me it would somewhat negate the sense of scale of the galaxy. Granted, it’s going to be a huge galaxy, but simply zipping from one planet to another is simply going to be that… zipping around. It would be like purchasing a Ferrari or a Lambo to only go 3 blocks to work every single day. If I had such a nice car, I’d be wanting to go for a ride, not just around corner.

Would it be convenient to have instantaneous travel, regardless of strategic/logistical concerns? Of course. But as I said, I believe that it would ultimately belittle the scale of the galaxy.

Perhaps a compromise would be to limit the instantaneous travel to super-capital ships and the like, and give smaller ships something like the the Alcubierre drive, with the capability, either built in or upgradeable, for interstellar travel at a fuel cost.

In all fairness, books actually have an otherworldly and universal The Observer, namely the author. All I’m saying is that I’d rather if Infinity pretended it didn’t.

I agree completely, but sadly this is one of those places where technical concerns (namely trying to run a to-scale space MMO on a computer with a finite number of bits) has to take priority. Or rather, it forces the devs to make the decision between instantaneous travel that leads into interesting gameplay or non-instantaneous travel that might not contain any interesting gameplay in itself.

As for the rest of your point, though…

Ye Olde Forum to the rescue again! Or rather, my vague recollection of the Most Accepted Hypothesis On Ye Olde Forum to the rescue:

Jump drives are interstellar, and only interstellar. The only way to aim them is to have a gravity source the size of a star (or greater) to aim at, and even then they’ll have an imprecision of a few AU for a nearby star (which is actually rather handy as arriving in the heart of a star would be bad).

For further away stars? Well, the larger a star is the easier it is to lock on to from further away, but every so often you’ll miss. That is, instead of coming out in the star system you were aiming for, you’ll come out in a nearby (or not so nearby) one. Oops. This also provides Sab1e with a reason for people to consider their course more carefully in that following a series of large stars (=long jumps) on a slightly roundabout route might easily be faster than a straight line of dwarf stars (shorter jumps, more of them in total, potentially).

Oh yeah, and if there’s a place that sells fuel somewhere along either path that’ll be really helpful, too, as you might otherwise run dry in a system with not even a gas giant to refuel from (and be forced to try fill up from the corona of the star the system is guaranteed to contain).

In short, you can instantaneously (or almost instantaneously) travel from one star to another (relatively nearby) one, arriving somewhere relatively close to it. Once there, you’ll have to either fly (with your fuelless space-Warp drive and engines) to a location of interest to you (say, the undefended base of an enemy IPO) or pick the next star along your route to Jump to.

As far as the scale of the galaxy is concerned, even if each Jump is up to a thousand lightyears it’d take tens of jumps to cross the galaxy, each jump shifting the stars in the background visibly. Oh yeah and that’s using the good fuel, once you run out of that and switch to “burning the furniture and stardust”? Figure a couple hundred jumps, total, with possibly hours spent collecting more fuel - and that’s if you’re lucky.

Not an epic journey if you were doing it in real life, perhaps, but for a computer game? All I’ll say is good thing they’re designing the game so you wont have any reason to make the trip.


You have not been reading then the “Honor Harrington” series. Interesting space opera it is, with deep-developped details of how the “warp” technology works.

First, there are some “warp waves” that dictate most, if not all, of the trade / travelling routes. Therefore, some regions are more or less isolated while even a small solar system can become a great crossroad. Sometimes, you have to take a detour instead of travelling straight because of how the warp currents flow.

Second, accessing to “warp” requires a specific bandwidth of speed. Too low : no good / too high : a lot of risks. Therefore a stationary fleet cannot escape easly unless alerted quite some time before the attack. Thus, making patrols are an essential part of a planetary defense, more than plateforms because of how easy it is to shut them down from afar.

Thirdly, coming out of the “warp” blinds your detectors momentarly, leaving you open for a direct counter-assault. And since you leave the warp more or less at the same speed as you entered the warp, getting too close to the enemy or a planet may quickly become mortal. Though you can possibly enter and exit the warp at any time, it is better in this conditions to do so at a safe distance.

Also in his universe, the “warp” gear has to cooldown a bit before another jump. If there’s a well-laid trap, there’s little to no chance of escape if the foe predicted or knows where and when you arrive.
There exists as well some kind of “wormholes” in his universe that create a lot of trade market, since those highways are heavily guarded and saves more time than the “standard warp” travel.

As you can see, teleporting around doesn’t mean there’s no rules or constraints, on the contrary.
If a non-stationary instantaneous travel was to be made, I wouldn’t keep the first point (a lot of hassle for not much of a gain) but I would consider the other points.

Plus the other good points @Runiat made in his last post.

I’m with the old forum :yum: :

  • Instantaneous, two way, giant Stargates with ranges in the hundreds of lightyears. for goverments and IPO (Infinity Player Organizations) with at least 1000 (depending on overall game popularity) active players.

  • Hyperspace fuel using Drives, used for inter system travel.
    Depending on developement time including following:
    – Non instantanious travel hyperspace tunnell,
    – Semi free movement inside the hyperspace tunnel,
    – Form and curviness (difficulty to navigate) dependent on the distance and mass of the object you try to “hyperspace” to,
    – Possibility for pursuer to enter your hyperspace tunnel,
    – Possibility to drop out of hyperspace,
    – Possibility to “fight” inside of hyperspace.
    The fuel, as said above, can be ether bought from a refinery or in extreme situation mined from gas giants or coronas of stars.

  • The one only Gravitationall dependent Warp Drive (or called something like that … forgot the exact name)
    Used for FTL travel inside of star systems, it’s your typical Star-trek Warp drive, bending space to move the ship, but there’s a drift.
    The drives effectiveness is depended on nearby masses like planets, stars or spaceships. Crashing into a planet faster then c isn’t possible because the drives effectiveness reduces to zero when encountering one. This also applies to spaceships. Allowing pursuers to make you and himself drop out of warp and engage you.
    Some of the ideas from the community I liked were:
    – Gravitational dependency of drives can be altered by the player with some kind of frequency system to allow formation flight with friends,
    – Warp drive is a multiplier of the relative speed of the spacecraft,
    – Warp drive is independent from the relative speed of the spacecraft, (haven’t decided between the two yet)
    – Relative speed to the biggest celestial object is maintained when dropping out of warp.

  • The 400 m/s^2 acceleration, coming from the Engines, an average fighter (subject to balancing) may produce for close range manoeuvring.

I think most of these ideas are influenced or directly, ether mentioned first or invented by @Crayfish , though please correct me if I’m wrong.


must resist commenting series … more wasted potential than a lightning storm …

I liked the old system quite a lot, though I would have liked the possibility to slowboat between systems using warp. It would require that warp speed continue to drop as you go further from the inner system, which was a controversial proposition (whose advantages I’ll still defend to the end).

The only thing I wasn’t fine with was the finer workings of warp interaction.
Basically, instead of cancelling each-other, warp should seamlessly merge so both ships continue to move under a vector that is the average of both (factored by things like ship mass and whatnot). This way, griefers wanting nothing more than stop you but refusing actual (risky) combat when possible wouldn’t have one big avenue of griefing open to them.
While the frequency system is an attempt to answer that, I feel that it is both clumsier and less efficient than the simpler, more elegant merge system. Also note that celestial bodies disrupting warp are in fact acting this way, their warp vector simply being (nearly) immobile and far more imposing. We can also imagine unmoving stations generating a similar (lesser) effect.
Also, I would have made the warp always on. Cutting warp off brings pretty much nothing in terms of gameplay, and it would explain the speed limit at the surface of celestial bodies (including airless ones) - which will be there for technical reasons anyway.

For the stargates, here is how I would do it : beware the power of Paint drawings!

So as if you can’t tell by looking at it, here is an explanation : the gate is two-way in a sense that both gate can be the emitter or the receptor, but there is actually one emitting side and one receiving side.

Before the emitting side, there is a massive acceleration lane (well, negligible in terms of space distances, so it is not necessary to have space highways). This has two advantages : it looks cool to accelerate before going through the gate, and you go out at great speed, meaning that even with dense traffic, you are actually far away from other people.
For example, if you come out at, say, 5 km/s and there is a jump every 2s, then you are at 10km of the previous and the next ship. If warp is always on and the gate is far enough from celestial bodies, you will rapidly accelerate as you are moving away from the gate.
As we are in a Newtonian system, you won’t be slowed down, so we can choose stupidly high speeds if needed.
Then, collision problem solved !

To compensate the great speeds used, the gate probably needs to be massive. But it’s supposed to be one of the greatest feats of engineering in the galaxy, so that’s not a bad thing.

For the entry lane, I would make the area around the gate forbidden to ships (with heavily armed enforcers). If you want to go through it, you contact them, maybe pay the fee if there is one, and close to the waiting lane. There, you give controls of your ships to the gate system, which will place you in the lane and move you when needed. When it’s your turn, it will engage you in the acceleration lane and send you through the gate.

The conic form is because as you go faster and faster, there are less people in the second half than in the first half. Thus, the cone form ensures that people in the first half are far enough from one another before the acceleration puts them apart.
The waiting lane should probably be an empty cylinder. This way, if someone wants to leave the lane, the ship can simply go without forcing other ships to move.

Also, I’m pretty sure I saw a bit of Star Trek episode where they shoot at each-other while warping.

Derp, yep, it used to not be possible, but they apparently eventually decided that warp battle would be cool.

Awesome paint drawing. Make that sucker 25-100 km diameter and that’ll work nicely. :smiley:

Either that or an autopilot within a certain radius or simple invincibility immediately leaving the gate would be ideas. Making the gate really big could help in that regard.

I didn’t know that there would be technical advantages with the jump drive. In that case, jump drives may just have to be a necessity.

EDIT: It would really depend on just how good the engine is at instancing/rendering. If the engine is trying to run the entire galaxy en-route on your end, then it would be a problem. But if it’s only rendering that which is directly in front of you, it may still be a problem, but a much smaller one, comparatively.

But a strictly inter-stellar jump drive could work in my opinion.

I agree with you 100% on this one. IMO, Warp speed should increase the further away from celestial bodies the ship is. Anywhere from 10-100 x c as max speed should work. But again, as Runiat pointed out, there would be possible technical difficulties.

This will have to be one of the things Battlescape must test at one point prior to the MMO.

Rendering interstellar space is the easiest thing in the galaxy. It’s a black background with occasional white pixels. There’d barely be enough ambient light to see your own hand in front of you, except as a shadow blocking out some of the stars.

Figuring out where you are, though, with a high enough level of precision that you might actually see someone else (and not have them randomly rubberbanding about)? That’s the tricky part.

Specifically, what the Inovae engine does differently from all that came before it to allow entire solar systems to be mapped out without even invisible loading screens (though probably a bit of texture and model popping on older systems) is that it uses double-precision floating point variables to map out the X, Y, and Z position of anything and everything in an entire solar system (though most of it wont exist until you’re close enough to see it, because again, finite number of bits in a computer). What this means is that if the Solar System was centred on the Sun, and you were flying over Neptune, the engine (and any other players using it) would know your location to within 1mm.

In interstellar space, though? Well, the Inovae engine obviously has a way to map out locations in that, too - they have to to have stars appear in the same locations for everyone - and for the purpose of mapping out stars the 64 floats system works perfectly fine. For flying alongside a friend of yours, though? Well, the Milky Way is believed to be approximately one hundred thousand lightyears across, so by the time you got near the edge you’d know where that friend of yours was… with an accuracy of 105km.

Would it be possible to set up a system in which any ships within 106km of each other instantiate their own, local, coordinate system which then moves through the galactic one? Absolutely. Would it be worth the trouble, when you have rather limited development resources?

On one hand, I kind of think it would. On the other hand, I’d kinda like to see the game, finished this decade.

Concerning the warp vector combination …
Lets say we have one merchant and 5 fighters with the same combined mass as that merchant. The fighters catch up with the merchant and their warp bubbles get merged.
If the warp and conventional drives are connected how can the game differentiate between a simple engaging maneuver inside that warp bubble or a huge course correction?
If one fighter gets damage and wants to split from the bubble what exactly would he need to do?

Oh wait. I think I just found the answer. Distance. Distance from the centre of mass of said ship combination system.

I guess I misinterpreted you in that regard.

Concerning the rest of your post, the first thing I want to admit is that I did not know that the solar systems created their own coordinate system. I assumed that there was a single galactic coordinate system. So assuming that simply increasing the resolution of the galactic coordinates is impossible, then I see the problems with having a fleet moving along together.

But then again, I-N must figure out a way around this, either by increasing the resolution of the galactic coordinates or by creating a sub-coordinate system, because (correct me if I’m way off) without it this handicap would limit all forms of combat/convoys/patrols etc anywhere outside of local system coordinates. If this is a non-issue as it stands, then why would warping (not jumping) cause such a large displacement between two warping ships?

Perhaps, if increasing the resolution of the galactic coords is not possible, then an easier method of creating a sub-coord would be to instead of creating it centered on the ship, but on the actual galactic coord itself. The ‘cube’ created by the eight coords around the ship would be broken up into a much higher resolution, allowing for combat and close escorts.

Distance would work, perhaps another is to allow for the player to change the ‘harmonics’/whatever of the warp bubble to ‘repel’ or disengage the wounded fighter from the fight.

It’s not impossible, but modern CPUs very rarely support any sort of 128 bit arithmetic operations natively, and the software emulation required to make it possible would be computationally expensive - not to mention it would add a lot of development time to not only implement(1) all the necessary mathematical operations in 128 bits, but something as simple as being forced to write “z = add(x, y);” instead of “z = x+y;” takes time and causes mistakes to happen.

  1. Some programming languages have built in support for 128 bit values, but in my experience they’re often somewhat lacking in the types of operations you’d want to use for positioning (say, square and square root functions for calculating the distance between two ships), and the need to call a function by name rather than just write a single sign is also quite common.

This meanwhile is exactly what, last I heard, they’re planning to do. Only, rather than making literally every point in the galaxy a possible local coordinate system, they have the engine pseudo-randomly choose about 200 billion different options and then highlight each of them by putting a star (or multiple stars) there.

This also helps with being able to see what is going on around you, and provide you with some points of interest to give you an idea where other players might go (asteroids, planets, etc. - things that are exceedingly uncommon and far between in interstellar space).

It also gives a good way to force people together (at least slightly) while suspending disbelief.

Oh yeah, and forcing you to Jump from one coordinate system to the next lets them put in a brief “woo hyperspace glow” effect while transferring you between the two systems - which is a hell of a lot nicer than the massive rubberbanding or freezing you’ll often see when other games try to connect two maps directly. Well… it slightly annoys me when each system is only a few square km, but with 216 AU³ of space to roam in I figure it’ll be a non-issue.

Also, what happens when you arrive at the edge of a system? You continue as things are less and less precise? You automatically jump? You splat on the sky?

About the warp vector combination, it would be quite similar to the warp disruption, as it would act as a “battle arena”, where ships are newtonian to each-other, and a speed limit is there (necessary for gameplay reasons). As a ship is getting away from the centre of effect, it is less and less affected by it (and is less and less affecting the other ships), until it smoothly regain total warp independence.

The difference is, the “battle arena” itself is moving.
For example, if two identical ships are crossing paths head on, the battle arena will be immobile at first. But if they continue like that, they will simply zip past each-other and continue their merry way, having simply be delayed for a bit.
So if one ship is actually trying to pursue and attack another, then they will continue roughly in the direction the pursued ship is trying to go. Unless it decides to stop trying to flee and simply face the other ship, then both ships manoeuvres will send them randomly flying around, probably resulting in fairly neutral movement.
If the pursuer is a small pirate vedette and the pursued a giant hauler, then the hauler movement will probably be barely affected at all.
The only way to consistently slow a ship down, or move it against its will, would be for many other ships to zip by one after another, then circling and zipping by again.

Fleet movement also becomes pretty intuitive, simply fly in formation.
If there are warp drives of varied strengths, then we may also see interesting effects, like a more powerful ship accelerating the warp speed of a fleet formation.

About stargates.

Yes, the gate will need to be gigantic - to convey a sense of awe (it is a freaking gate), because it has to move up to 5km-long ships, and for those gameplay reasons.
That’s partly why I first thought about painting it as several element, in fact. There may be technical limitations for 10+km (non-celestial body) structures, IIRC.
Then again, several km-sized elements and some nice FX would also look better than a monolithic block IMHO.

Yeah, I was also thinking about the autopilot spontaneously engaging when you approach a gate (or other forbidden area), but obviously, this would need to be deactivable. After all, there will be times when players will try to destroy/cripple/capture enemy gates.
This autopilot is what would place you in the lane once you’re ready.
At first I would be against a period of invincibility when exiting the gate, but it could work if needed. For a few seconds, the energy of the jump makes you invincible (like a supershield), but also unable to fire or do much apart getting out of the way.

A slightly different design for the stargate is possible : the hourglass.
Simply put, instead of thinning up to a single line, the cone points directly at the gate itself.
Then, ships jumping out also follow a cone pattern instead of following one line. This would also help against possible collisions, and thus increase max traffic speed.
It would also give a more unique look at the stargates. Imagine two 90° cones, with the gate itself made of a circular structure, with two beams piercing the centre, through the axe of the two cones.

Also, with such a 2-way gate, it can be red on the depart side and blue on the arrival side - some red/blueshift is always a nice touch.

Generally speaking gameplay should dictate how fast travel works (warp drives, hyperspace, etc…).

I will assume the game is about exploration and discovery first and foremost, so i imagine very few star systems populated by NPCs, with the core worlds having all the needed services that work as player hubs. The core worlds would be connected by fast-travel FTL catapults of sorts with other areas connected by fast travel lanes. Everywhere else would be barren and empty, save for the mission-driven NPCs.

It would be up to the players to build and expand their empires/factions, be it a lone player investing in a refueling station or a 500-player coporation building stations across various star systems.

Travel options:


  • FTL Hyperspace Catapults - This would be your typical hyperspace gate. It is important to note that this should not be an instant-travel option, in fact none of that should be in the game as that goes against player interactions. This would simply be a huge gate between Core Worlds to promote convenient travel between player hubs/capital worlds only. It should offer a very fast speed across the galaxy and work similarly to taxi services in other MMOs (flight paths). Looks like a huge thing that looks very powerful.

  • FTL Warp Gates - similar to ther above but connects to another Warp Gate in a neighbouring system. Mainly used for ships without hyperspace drives and autopiloting players. Autopilot will only work across Warp Gates and Lanes for convenient travel. Looks like a warp gate.

  • FTL Lanes - If you played Freelancer you know what i’m talking about, EVE’s acceleration gates also work. This would be a lower-speed FTL travel for ships without FTL capabilities to the various areas. Most established stations or points of interest should be connected to these lanes. Players may sit on these lanes and pick off ships as pirates (or as police patrolling?). This is used for in-system fast travel and works with auto-pilot. Looks flimsy and weak.


  • Warp drives - used for in-system travel, most all ships have one of these by default. It IS possible to warp-travel between star systems but takes a long time (15-120 minutes). Uses the ship’s energy for travel. Works as a fallback if you run out of hyperspace fuel.

  • Hyperspace drives - used for interstellar travel and not much different than warp drives but is much faster. It requires a nominal amount of fuel, it shouldn’t be very expensive and travel is limited only by the ship’s fuel capacity. Can also use beacons for ease of travel, otherwise requires aligning and route calculation - essentially a charge up mechanic that increases the more ships you jump together with. Must power down shields and weapons, meaning not usable in combat.

Not used:

  • Wormholes or teleportation - instant travel between areas shouldn’t be used. Might be an interesting idea to explore if aliens use it, or on special missions.

As i’ve mentioned in the beginning it would be up to the players to expand their empires. This would mean that the devs would create all the stations and ships but the players would need to go and, by donating materials, invest into stations.

Lets say Bob has an exploration cruiser with mining bots, scanner probes and fighter drones. He picked up a mission generated at a nearby star system to “Prospect and Establish” a new star system. This system has nothing in it save for a couple of pirate bases. He will have a set of predetermined locations he must visit and perform a scan. Once they are completed he proceeds to wipe out the pirates and mine some minerals. Those minerals are donated to an NPC prospector orbiting the main planet and once he is full the mission is complete and the station will begin building.

The next day Bob comes back with the staion built, he docks with it and checks the missions panel - it has a few missions. All these missions are procedurally generated based on the content available in the system. It is expected that once a system is “fully complete” there isn’t much to do and players should move on.


  • Gather minerals for Warpgate - loads of minerals needed and usually handled by corporations. Once Warpgates are built this mission is not shown.
  • Gather minerals for Lanes - designed for solo players and lets them build the lanes in predetermined locations working as roads to various places. Once all lanes in the system are complete this mission is hidden.
  • Manufacture ships (fighters, corvettes, frigates) - make ships for a good reward to help NPCs fight pirates and improve police. Once police rating is maxed this is hidden (similar to security rating in EVE).
  • Manufacture weapons/supplies - small reward to help the station maintenance, rewards go down as more of this is complete.


  • Fully scan an asteroid belt/cloud - a mission that makes you scan all asteroids and objects in a given area. Once it is complete NPC ships will start traveling there to mine it, resulting in new/cheaper equipment/supplies sold at station. Players can also mine the small asteroids in it (big ones are always reserved for NPCs for gameplay).
  • Explore an anomaly - there is a set number of anomalies in the system and the player picks once at the start of the mission. The player has to warp into it and scan all objects in it. This can include things like alien ruins, pirate bases (including hidden player bases), good asteroids with expensive minerals, ship wrecks with loot, etc… Once it is complete the station will send a squad/convoy to it. Alien ruins triggers the build of a research station like before, pirate bases trigger new combat missions at the station to wipe them out, fancy minerals reward you with a star charter you can sell or just mine it yourself. Ship wrecks trigger a salvaging convoy that sells improved loot.


  • Patrol the system - go to waypoints, kill random pirates that may appear.
  • Destroy pirate base - a group mission, soloable with end-game ships. Only available if pirate base is found.
  • Police a gate/lane for a couple of minutes - scan all ships passing through, assist police NPCs if a target is found.
  • Destroy aliens - like the pirate base. Only available if aliens are attacking.
  • Destroy enemy - like the alien mission but against enemy faction.

Something like this would be across the entire game. As a system is fully constructed players would move on to new ones. As a region of star systems get fully built a hyperspace catapult can be built in the central system to connect to other regions. So on and so forth. The game would start with just 2-3 partially built regions and as times goes by the galaxy starts to develop and expand. There would be ways to reset the player progress with alien invasions or faction rebellions.

Don’t see why they wouldn’t let you continue. After all, a lack of precision doesn’t matter if there’s nothing out there (and there wouldn’t be, for hundreds of AU, in almost any direction).

Well, you seem to have addressed it yourself, but let me just reiterate: expanding the effective size of a game as it’s population declines is a bad idea. Means that the game either starts out with far too many players stuck together in far too small a space, or that a few months down the line it seems effectively dead.

Having alien invasions (note: iirc IA was opposed to any form of alien fauna being in the game back on the old forums) reduce the size of the NPC areas certainly has some potential to help reduce the effective size of the game to what the developers deem suitable for it’s population, but personally I’d think that making territorial expansion the domain of large player organizations would do a better job of it.

If there are too many players to fit in the core, it would be easy to find a few hundred willing to work together to build their own empire. If there’s not enough players, the empire would decay (due to assumed high maintenance costs).

As for your other ideas… well, I don’t personally agree with most of them for various reasons, but there’s nothing objectively wrong with the rest.

As far as instant travel across vast distances in a game goes Ever Quest went from traveling zone to zone across continents and oceans to instant travel.
EQ had a problem with people across the world, its moon and planes. People wanting to play together but spending lots of time to go from one place to another.
Personally I liked spending time to travel. It had a sense of having accomplished something. People had to plan ahead.

Infinity will have to balance out how they want there game to play. Instant travel from everywhere to a slog 8)

But the system kinda fixes itself. If there are too many players in the core then the territory will expand really fast because all those players are completing the missions and unlocking new systems. And as territory expands the old systems will be completed and there would be little point remaining in them. The game would automatically manage that so new systems open for exploration with the procedural missions would only open enough to keep players together and not open too many at once. Less players would mean fewer developable systems.

As for aliens it makes little difference. It can be rebels, it can be a separate NPC faction, etc… Maybe even a robot uprising like in Space Rangers 2 (oops spoilers). The idea is for a procedural system for guiding players along. Players don’t need to do it, in fact many of them may chose to explore on their own outside of the mission system. The fact remains that the vast majority of players need a guiding hand and this would be an excelent way for “infinite” procedural content generation.

It actually doesn’t make any sense for jump drives to be only interstellar. Any gravimetric targeting system will, by the nature of gravity, have an easier time targeting nearby planets over distant stars. Here on Earth, for instance, the gravitational force of Jupiter on us is ~5 million times stronger than the gravitational force of Alpha Centauri.

It was always generally assumed that you’d be able to use the jump drive for intra-system travel, but that it would come with the same limitations as using it for inter-system travel: scatter at your spawn point, and the consumption of fuel.

Ew. Eww, eww, eww, eww, eww. I’ve always absolutely detested having warp speed increase as you get farther away from celestial bodies. Yes, sure, in a limited radius around planets or whatnot, but once you’re away from the planet, you’re at 100% warp speed. Having speed increase as you get away from stars inside a system totally screws with the distance scale.

Under such a system, it might take as long to go from Earth to Mars as it does to go from Jupiter to Saturn, even though the trip between Jupiter and Saturn may be up to ten times longer. What’s the point? You may as well have a rigid travel time between worlds: Click your target, click go, and wait for the timer to count down.

If you want that, use the jump drive.

I’ve always been a fan of a relatively slow maximum warp speed, and one which is consistent throughout a system. Somewhere between 1 - 5 AU per minute works out really, really well. That way, when you jump into a system, you can end up anywhere between 1 and 10 AU away from the star (depending on the size and mass of the star). A solar mass star would put you in somewhere around the 4 AU mark. At 2.5 AU per minute, you’re as little as 60 seconds from Mars, 72 seconds from Earth, and perhaps as little as 24 seconds from Jupiter, depending on which side of the Sun they and you happen to be on. Travel time between Earth and Mars could be as little as 12 seconds at their closest.

We’ve discovered entire planetary systems that lie within 1 AU of their star.

And yes, because I know the complaint is going to come up: You could build a space station in the far reaches of the solar system which could take between 30 and 60 minutes to reach at maximum warp, and then use your jump drive to enter the inner solar system. I know someone (probably ThornEel) had complained about this in the old forums. I don’t, personally, see that as a reason to discard such a system. It sounds like more of an opportunity for a creative counter-tactic or game mechanic.

At the end of the day, I see zero reasons to construct real-life sized solar systems, and then destroy the distance scale with things like logarithmic warp speeds.

I think it’s best to just plain old assume that slow boating between systems isn’t going to be supported until we hear otherwise. That pretty much means they don’t have to figure this out at all. If there’s no interstellar space, there is no “outside of local system coordinates” to be handicapped.

I don’t think there’s any need for an edge, at least not until you bump up against the numerical accuracy of whatever variables are storing your position. With a slow enough warp speed, it would take you days, maybe even a couple of weeks to reach that point. If someone ever bothers, they can be Pac-Manned to the other side of the system.

I think it’s fairly easy to keep the colonized volume of space in check with NPCs. If you can’t colonize systems without NPCs, and NPCs get increasingly unruly and expensive as the game’s population density decreases beneath optimum levels, players simply won’t be able to afford to over-extend the active game world.

This trivializes the existing game world, though. Players enter the universe, and suddenly the volume of occupied space increases exponentially? That doesn’t make any sense. Expansion should be an inherently slow process from the very beginning.