Newtonian physics


I just discovered this neat project and now I’m super excited! I’m totally into space sim games. I understand this is very early in development and lots of things are still undefined by the developer, so I’ll leave here my two cents.

Newtonian physics. That’s my two cents. Too short? oh, all right. We live in an awesome age of new space sim hype. We have space sim games receiving E3 level of attention, and this is brilliant. Some focus on combat, others on trade, exploration and so on. Some are ambitious enough to take on all these functionalities even. However, I’ve noticed that pretty much all of them disregard completely the natural laws of physics, which I think is extremely unfortunate as orbital dynamics is very very fun. What’s fun about pointing at a meteor and thrusting to get there? that could very well be an underwater simulator if gravity has no role. Reaching orbits, approaching orbiting objects, descending on a planet etc, all of these tasks become interesting and challenging once you have real newtonian physics in place (and fuel concerns, why not?).

Has this been discussed before? I couldn’t find anything with this search engine.

Greetings, @diegzumillo. Please do excuse me, but you’ve no idea how strongly I’m laughing on the inside right now, and I’m sure I’m not alone here in the community. Unfortunately, we lost the original Infinity discussion board to a hacker about a year back, which is why you won’t find much, if any, discussion on here about flight mechanics. I assure you, the old fora were rife with discussions about Newtonian flight controls, what they looked like, how they performed, and whether they should be used or not.

At least originally, the planned flight mechanics were going to be Newtonian. There was even a small flight prototype released that showed what dogfighting could be like in Newtonian space. Today, I think it’s been taken as a silent assumption by the community that Battlescapes will be released with a Newtonian flight model, though I don’t recall ever hearing the devs say as much. If nothing else, however, I think I, sitting in the peanut gallery as I am, can at the very least say with confidence that a Newtonian flight model is being seriously considered, at least for sub-light travel. Though, I am curious to hear what Keith or Flavian have to say on the topic these days.


I remember those lol.

I just decided to steer clear of those. :stuck_out_tongue:

haha I did find odd that this hadn’t been discussed. That explains it.

Welcome @diegzumillo

I hope the journey from the ksp forums wasn’t too rough :smiley:

@Arkenbrien I only wish those threads were still here if only to point people towards for more discussion. They were always interesting to read and always a bit entertaining.


lol Skyler4856?

pm’ed you because it’s unrelated to the topic :smile:

It should be mentioned that, as I recall it from the old forums, all of the above was achieved without fuel concerns and almost entirely by the approach of pointing your ship at what you want to go to and turning on your engines, due to said engines being far too powerful and having far too much dV (infinite) for orbital dynamics to play a major role (although in theory someone who uses gravity rather than fight it might still be able to cut a few % off their travel time).

The reason for this is that realistic (current-day) engine powers and fuel amounts is really bloody boring if you can’t timewarp, and for some reasons the devs haven’t been able to figure out how to make timewarping work in a massively multiplayer game. Noobs :stuck_out_tongue:

In a what? this is going to be an MMO? D: oh… the pain. the misery! the humanity!

Well no. The current project is to build a small arena-style space combat simulator… in which several hundred players, per server, fight out an epic battle in a map the size of Neptune’s orbit.

So not an MMO in the “world of tanks is a MMO” sense, but a multiplayer game that just happens to be massive and connect over the internet.

Yeah, Newtonian physics has been discussed to death. *Mournful face at memories of old forums

I would imagine (if Flavien’s track record is anything to go by) that the controls for Battlescape will be fairly arcadey, as in point-and-fly, but with some Newtonian stuff going on in the background with drifting etc. The aforementioned Infinity Combat Prototype did a pretty good job of that, though I’m willing to bet the tech has moved on a bit since then.

Ah well, don’t take my personal expectations (or disappointment) as criticism, I’m sure the game will be great. Just not for me :stuck_out_tongue:

So … what type of game is for you? It kinda doesn’t shine trough your indirect judgement.

Well, I was hoping for something closer to a simulator. There are so few of them.

Most space engine thingies coming out around now are mostly lame simulators which will probably function less like reality than I-Novae’s engine – despite using physically-based scenery in the most lame sense you can imagine.

  1. You’ll be undoubtedly satisfied. The information isn’t around at the moment but I think you’ll like what I-Novae will do.

  2. I want Galileon physics! (to be serious – I hate people denoting physics as “Newtonian” in particular, but it’s hard to explain why if you don’t have a game-physics background)

Many game physics engines are properly newtonian (meh) but the easiest and most functional way to drive gameplay is about having pigs fly rather than operating on an active-ragdoll’s limbs to make it walk.

But what about the beef!?

when people mention Newtonian physics, it’s not as much about the world, but rather about the ship movement mechanics. i suppose most people dont need mention Galilean physics when they reference a realistic universe. After all as much as we’d like, it’s unlikely the game is going to step up to relativistic physics for ship movement :stuck_out_tongue:

There’s no such thing as “Galilean physics”. There’s Galilean relativity, upon which Newtonian mechanics is built. Both are part of classical physics.

When talking about spaceships, it’s proper to refer to Newtonian mechanics when contrasting ship behaviour to fluid space physics, as both the Newtonian model and fluid models exhibit Galilean relativity.

But there is: “According to Newtonian Mechanics”

This definetly identifies how the creator of the game try to match the behavior of the Objects in the game according to Newtons laws.

  1. That’s not descriptive about anything.
  2. f = mxa is a shitty, non-descript equation. It is.
  3. For any interactive simulation, Newton’s “3rd law” (pffft) must be broken somewhere. It’s important to specify where and how impulses are injected.

Oh boy. Since I started this topic I feel I should at least try to prevent a flame war. Hey, hey! it’s ok! don’t fight.

Man, I really suck at this. ok, go on now.

Seriously though, in my environment (I’m a physics grad student) newtonian always had a clear meaning but I guess everyone can agree on ‘classical mechanics’. And regardless of the terminology, saying a game follows classical mechanics or has newtonian physics still doesn’t specify what and how is being simulated. KSP for example uses spheres of influence to determine the forces on a body, where classical mechanics tells us every body in the universe is acting upon every other at all times. Also, planets and other celestial bodies are on rails (that goes for Orbiter as well, but it uses a more realistic trajectory).

In my original post I was merely asking whether orbital maneuvers would be there, like a space flight simulator. But following other topics I understand that most people are more interested in movement when dog fighting specifically (as a game, it doesn’t have to follow the same physics rules)

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