Video demo of the warp prototype

These are videos demonstrating a piece of software that I worked up in 2009 as a result of discussions about spaceship movement systems. The software is called the Infinity Warp Prototype, but it is not official software from I-Novae Studios. It is simply an implementation of the ideas that we were talking about several years ago.

Do not expect this movement system to appear in any I-Novae Studios games. I hope that they believe this is a good movement system, but I have no expectation that they will implement it.

In truth, I hope that folks will be inspired to start talking about ship movement systems because I find the issue of how players move their avatars around the game world to be one of the more interesting aspects of gameplay design.




Edit: Rewritten per @Skyentist’s recommendation


I’m trying not to procrastinate too hard today so I’ll watch them when I get a chance! Thanks for the upload.

I also think you should mention this is something you made and is not from Inovae to avoid confusion for newcomers to the forums.

I like it a lot man.
By the way:
What would happen if lets say 10 fighters got close to corvette ?
you know… would the cumulative mass of fighters(flying in same direction) dominate the large scale movement?

You mention in your first video that a battleship, following this system, would have trouble approaching planets at high speed due to not having the maneuverability to brake in time.

Suppose that same ship approached the target planet obliquely, rather than head on.

Would that change anything?

  1. If the Corvette is completely disrupted near a non-ship (e.g. space station, planet), the Fighters cannot move it by virtue of proximity. The non-ship anchors everything and the ships all operate as if there was no warp drive system.

  2. If the Corvette is free of disruption, then it can only be pushed as long as the Fighters all move in one direction. If the Corvette moves in the opposite direction, it will separate from the Fighters, and it’ll probably do it pretty quickly. To “hang onto” the Corvette would require repeatedly going back around and intercepting it from the opposite side over and over again. It is a viable griefing tactic, but it’s not much of one.

In between full and no disruption, the tactic is progressively easier to attempt, but it’s a lot of work to do nothing more than slow down the Corvette. I don’t believe that the tactic could be used to hang onto it indefinitely. The Corvette would just crank his power up to 100% in the direction he wants to go and never be intercepted again. If he’s not careful, he could smack a planet, which might be your intention. The smaller the ships involved, the less likely it is that the target ship would impact anything.

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I just absolutely love that movement system! And it feels like the ICP but in a galactic scale.

@INovaeFlavien, have you given a thought to a system like this? As an art guy I didn’t take part on discussions about these topics in the old forums so I don’t know what your thoughts were about this thing back then.

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Yes, tangential approaches are probably the best way to be aggressive with a large ship. The capital can be “braking” while sliding past the limb of the planet, giving it more time to shed power. How close the capital wants to get to the surface would influence how aggressive the approach could be. The closer to the planet, the more time that can be spent braking. The twist is that a battleship is not very maneuverable. Blow the approach on the limb of the planet and you’re either blasting past the planet because you don’t have enough time to brake or you’ve stopped on a dime because you cratered the planet.

Note that I’ve only got a dozen or so hours with the prototype myself, and I’m sure some of the young guns out there would be able to pull off some ridiculously-aggressive maneuvers given enough practice.

Edit: I should add that tangential approaches would be standard fare for ships that do a lot of refueling for jumps. Refueling involves skimming the upper atmosphere of a planet, and that’s a tangential pass on a planet. So players would likely get a lot of practice on that very type of pass.

I thought this was the real thing!

:frowning: I got my sex toys out for nothing!!!

Still going to watch it though.

Even though I like the system, a map navigation mode is the only way I see it working. As we detailed and discussed here, I don’t see how a sense of scale is possible when ship speed is changing constantly and there’s no visual indication for it but numbers going up and down. A map would solve the problem by showing your ship relative to other objects even though not possible with naked “eye” in 3D space. Some also brought up the ideas of artificially inflating distant objects so they appear from those distances (holograms). But if their size also changes with the distance, which it would need for visibility, the scale is lost again.

But I don’t want to pull this thread into discussions about interface again. I should have made another thread for that anyway.

This system already takes that into account doesn’t it? At one point JB talks about how a bigger ship / fleet commander would need to navigate through a map / sensor view (i think). While smaller ships can more easily eyeball it based on speed and distance numbers a map system would probably be available for all.

I also like that, even when flying small ships, there could be a wing leader doing all the navigations, letting the rest just tag along. Instead of everyone having to do the same thing.

As I brought up in your linked thread, there are other visuals that can be used to communicate what’s going on. I think that a little creative thinking would alleviate much of the confusion that sets in for first-person navigation. Ship trails, planet orbit trails, inflated objects and the like should allow a pilot to fly around a planetary system by the seat of their pants.

Just as there are visual cues to give a player a sense of scale when zooming in and out of the 2D map in the warp prototype, give visual cues to players so they can understand how inflated the objects are. Make greatly-inflated objects more transparent. A very ghostly object is hugely inflated. Intuitive and simple.

There’s no requirement that the inflation needs to work flawlessly in all situations. If I’m in the middle of a fleet and I want to see details of a distant ship, I might crank up the inflation to a very high level. Of course, the inflated fleet around me will make a visual hash of that ship. So I’m obliged to move away from the fleet so I can make out the distant ship more clearly - and I don’t see a problem with that.

Hear, hear. I don’t know which would be preferred, but a game could easily implement the station keeping feature that is found in the warp prototype. That would mean that someone could form up on the wing, enable station keeping and go grab a cup of tea. The alternative is to leave each player to manage formation flying themselves, which is how pilots have always done things.

Carried through to jumps, wing members could slave their jump computers to the wing commander’s, allowing everyone to stay in formation right through a jump. Unfortunately, this would serve as an exploit to allow a single player to transport an unlimited number of ships across the galaxy. Assuming he had an unlimited number of copies of the game running.

A demonstration of jumping between stars has been added to the base post.

Something that I don’t mention in that video is that the player can not only steer in a jump ribbon but can also change their engine power. So they may start the jump at one speed, then go slower or faster while in the jump ribbon, allowing them to arrive at a different speed than they started. The twist there is that if they slow their ship, they’ll spend more time in the ribbon, burning more of their jump matrix (fuel), possibly running out before the completion of the jump.

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I watched all your videos, and I must say: nice job ! Those are very cool. And pretty close to what we were designing. It’s incredible how much more interesting and complex it seems to be compared to other space games. It also seems to be pretty well balanced in terms of travel times ( not too slow, not too fast, at least for my tastes ). Pretty inspirational :slight_smile:


Thanks, Flavien, that’s very kind of you to say. A reminder to everyone is that the prototype explores ideas that a whole bunch of folks contributed to in the old forums. The prototype is just my implementation of some of those ideas.

I’m very happy to hear that. I was pretty sure that you would go with a proximity disruption approach, and I’m still hoping that you’ll allow interaction on the move.

I’ve also been surprised at how interesting things can get with just a few factors to balance. I’ve seen the same thing in flight simulation, where just lift, drag, gravity and thrust can produce such a complex movement system.

I think the fact that your engine allows seamless operation within a planetary system is going to be a big win for you once players get their hands on the alpha. Experiencing the continuity makes for a very different perception of spaceship games.

Well, I’ll say that it’s balanced about right to give me time to to explain what’s going on. :smile: (bloody icons…)


That all feels really good. The max speed was 0.1 AU/s, or the average speed was 0.1 AU/s? Either way, I was happy with the travel times around the inner solar system. I’d almost say, from that, that travel times should be weighted less toward the planetary disruption zone and more toward interplanetary travel (i.e. slow down the ships, but reduce the disruption zone radii), but this wasn’t an extended enough experience for me to really get a feel for whether those inclinations are off their rocker or not.

The jump mechanics were really sweet, though, and everything felt really tight. I’m really, really glad to hear Battlescape will be aiming for something similar!

My one issue with it all (and it’s really nitpicky) was that the star’s atmosphere is too thin. The recharge zone could have been larger, with less of a cutoff. Based on what I saw in the video, it looks like you’re charging from the chromosphere, which fits the scale seen in the video almost perfectly (the solar chromosphere is ~2000 - 3000 km thick, and sits above the “surface” of the Sun), and it should definitely be the prime real estate as far as charging goes, but the corona gets progressively denser as you near the chromosphere, and the jump matrix should have seen a charging boost while in the corona.

The coronal density drops off very quickly, but the particles are still energetic enough that they should give a small boost out to 2 - 3 stellar radii (so, between 600,000 km and 900,000 km for the Sun), with a gradual ramp up as the ship approaches the chromosphere.

This would add some interesting (and perhaps some unexpected, for the uninitiated) variety to stellar ram scooping, as not all stars are expected to have coronae! (or even chromospheres, for that matter!) Only stars with convective outer envelopes are expected to have meaningful atmospheres above the photosphere. For those stars, what’s seen in the video is pretty much bang on, but the star seen there was an M3 star, which has a convective outer layer, and so should have a rather robust and energetic atmosphere.

Stars of spectral type A2 (I believe; it may be A8. I can’t find my reference right now) or “younger” (That is, all O and B stars, as well as A0, A1, and A2 stars) have radiative surfaces and atmospheres. This means they don’t have magnetically active atmospheres. No star spots, coronae, no giant loops or explosions of gas, not even a stellar wind. They’re nice and quiet, and you’d have to get in nice and close in order to get a decent charge.

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I finally watched through the videos and that was really really cool. I hope that how travel works in IBS and TQFE is something quite similar to that. Especially the jump mechanics! The ribbon was awesome! I

This makes me feel really good and I can’t wait to see that something similar with much prettier ships and planets. No offense JB. You’ve made a fine model. :smiley:

I don’t know what you’re going on about. If Battlescape doesn’t have at least 1 ship in each class shaped like a cigar (yellow for one team, white for the other!), I’m going to be grossly disappointed.



I think I forgot to mention it, but there is a Lorentz component to the power setting. The higher the power, the more slowly it changes (it may be asymptotic to 100%). So getting to 99% power takes a long time - and to then back off from. That’s why I tended to go no higher than about 50% power (even in the Corvette), which meant a speed of about 0.05AU/s in practice. I’d probably only break out full power for a trip of 20AU or longer. That’ll still be three minutes or longer, ignoring departure and arrival times - and the time to ramp up and down on power.

I can’t really say much about tuning things without the rest of the game to tune against. Note that the tuning in the demo video is actually more aggressive than the tuning I had when the prototype was available for public play. That is, all intercepts are faster than they used to be.

However things are tuned, I think that it’s important to keep the following in ascending order of difficulty:

  1. Intercepting a body (large to small)
  2. Intercepting a friendly ship (large to small)
  3. Intercepting a hostile ship (large to small)

The goal there is to ensure that low-skill players can at least manage the civilian task of flying between planets (and the space stations that orbit them), while the higher skilled players can handle fleet operations, and the most skilled players are pirates and combat interceptors. Of course, there is also the idea that lower skilled players can do combat in stabilized regions near planets and moons and such - producing traditional ‘destination encounter’ gaming such as is found in EVE Online.

As an aside, I’d like it if an MMO even kept the option for non-pilots to operate in the game by using NPC shuttles.

I was charging off stuff. Stars have good stuff. Planets have inferior stuff. Remember that this was just a proof of concept piece - something with enough detail to allow people’s imaginations to take over. Thus the elliptical ships and spherical space stations. Placeholders.

I think that it would be awesome if the environment had enough variety in it to throw some twists and turns at players, to make them think about the way they need to operate around a given type of star.

It would also be interesting if the jump power source was not simply a fuel quantity, but a structured entity, like a battery; the ‘jump matrix’ that I mention in the demo. A battery with charge memory. And other mildly-bad habits. Temperamental devices suggest that they are built from the upper limit of the society’s technology.

I’m glad you guys enjoyed the flat version of the jump tunnel idea that was discussed in the old forums. I had a lot of fun fooling around with star-perturbed jump paths.

I don’t mean to speak for Flavien, but he had always planned to use a statistical jump system instead of a skill-based jump system. And, of course, we won’t see anything about jumping in the Kickstarter because the game focuses on a single planetary system. Well, at least as I understand it.

None taken at all. The visuals were intentionally kept very simple so that people didn’t get distracted by things like the style of ships that I chose, or the makeup of the stellar atmospheres. I was far more concerned with communicating important information through stuff like the dot trails, range rings, interception aids and disruption field display. Boring, but essential to doing what the prototype was built to do.


Oh, I agree. The first thing I thought of during the jumping demo after you mention the passive recharge rate was that this thing was acting somewhat like a capacitor. The energy’s coming from somewhere else, and the capacitor needs discharge for the jump engine to activate. (Part of me hopes that it’s capacitating flux; a different, much smaller part of me hates me for wanting that). I like that much better than a fuel tank. It could be made more robust by having a fuel tank and a capacitor, so that people have the option of carrying fuel with them to boost their “passive” recharge rate on long trips, at the cost of potential cargo space…