Weekly Update #67


If I want a slow ship with (v)Joystick control, I’d play E:D.

As long as “feels good” doesn’t mean “able to compete with”. I don’t agree with balancing ship handling to peripherals, so that the handling is the same across controllers.

My opinion is this: Give the players the tools. Allow for variance in control schemes, not balancing them so that there isn’t any difference, but allow for variance so that the players can find their individual play style.

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I think there’s some misunderstanding or at least miscommunication.
Direct input is a term that has long been used in gaming and refers to the mapping of mouse movement to cursor movement.
Direct mouse input would not control the thrusters, it would control a cursor setting the desired heading of the ship.
It would therefore be 100% uniform, consistent and reliable. I move my mouse x inches, my heading moves 45°, every time. This enables twitch reflexes and muscle memory.

Whether or not rotational acceleration is instantaneous is a separate but very much related question.
If it is, then you get that classic FPS control. For discussion, lets call this Direct FPS control.

If it’s not instantaneous then it’s still consistent and predictable: If I move my mouse x inches, my heading moves 45°, every time, it might just take non-zero time to get there. For discussion, lets call this Direct non-instant control.
Edit: This is my preference, if implemented well.

If it’s not instantaneous there is a second question which is whether the ‘cursor’ is constrained by the view port, ie you can only move your desired heading to the edge of the screen and then you have to keep pulling it across as you turn. This makes it consistent only within the bounds of the view. ie you can turn 20° with a single movement, but not 180°.
This is the Freelancer scheme (and Everspace?).
For discussion, lets call this Direct Freelancer control.

Then there are the other schemes that I would call non-direct but I’m leaving the office and heading home now :smile:

Patch 0.2+ - Feedback thread

I agree with this

I love flying about with my joystick and throttle,
but it would be perfect if I could switch to mouse during battles.
(I know @Lomsor and @Playbenni have been experimenting with dual controller setups).

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Semantics can get confusing. Ye.

The current build of the game doesn’t let you. directly controll the heading. Only indirectly by controling, directly, the ship thrusters. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

So what would you prefer? As controll scheme.

I would suggest adding some:
Heading Controll
Acceleration Controll
Impulse (Thruster) Controll (allready in)

Then have defaults for each ship and let players alter that default in the setings. Also a button for ingame on the fly switching.
Then have server setting that allow dissalow each controll method.

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He would prefer to be able to use his twitch muscle memory to move the mouse in an instant to snap his fighter around to a specific orientation. FPS controls, but on a spaceship flying in space instead of a guy running around in a maze of rooms.

I dislike FPS controls intensely because they are a severe break with reality. They fall into the same category of gameplay as teleportation; highly artificial. On a PC, I should be able to look around at twitch speeds, but I should not be able to reorient anything physical at those speeds. In VR, I get twitch speeds for glancing around, but looking beyond my initial field of view involves reorienting the physical object that is my head.

In short, I think FPS controls are an outmoded ‘gamey’ construct that should be dumped on the refuse pile of gaming history. That’s why I suggested a fighter that reorients at high speeds, combined with gimballed weapons that reorient even faster. That would be as close as Battlescape’s fiction would provide to FPS speeds. Even then, mouse users would remain dominant in twitch fights because of their superior ability to provide fast, precise motions.

The gimballed weapon system would be just like our vision system. The gimballed weapons are like our eyes and the ship is like our head. We turn our head quickly, but we can glance around with our eyes very quickly. So if you are tracking a fast moving target that succeeded in getting out of your field of view, you turn your head/ship. Stick the controller in the direction you want to turn. When the target is in your field of view, you can snap your weapon around to shoot.

Taken to an extreme, VR would literally rely on head movement to turn the ship and eye movement to target weapons.

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While FPS is tempting, for realism I think I’d actually prefer direct non-instant. So I can position my desired heading with a consistent mouse movement, but the ship would take time to align to that heading. I think I’d like about 3 seconds for a 180° rotation (in the interceptor and bomber) - that’s actually slower than you can turn your head or even your whole body.

This would be achieved by the flight computer accelerating for half of the rotation and decelerating for the other half to come back to a halt on the desired heading.

A side effect of this is rotational overshooting:

  1. Say you flick your mouse 180° to the right
  2. Your ship accelerates as rapidly as possible until it reaches 90° right
  3. It then starts decelerating as rapidly as possible which would stop the rotation at 180°
  4. However, before it reaches 180°, you move your mouse 90° to the left
  5. It can’t decelerate any faster than it already is, the effect being it would keep rotating to 180° then start rotating back to your new desired heading.

I believe this would be easy to learn, difficult to master.

Edit: Freelancer/Everspace prevent this over-rotation by having high acceleration but a low rotational speed cap so even if rotating as fast as possible, that rotation can be stopped very rapidly. Obviously for I:B we aren’t a fan of speed caps, least of all rotational speed caps.

Weekly Update #69

I’ve never seen people actively ask for input lag before. Weird.

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Vendetta Online has a system similar to what hrobertson is proposing.

You’ve got two options to fly your ship. You control a cursor/crosshair that aims independently of your ship (and moves as quickly or slowly as you move the mouse), which follows this cursor as quickly as it can (accounting for inertia and finite torque). Or you can get rid of the cursor and just control your ship’s pitch and yaw directly with the mouse, still accounting for inertia and finite torque.

This not only makes VO’s ships feel like actual vehicles with actual mass, but it also creates another way to differentiate between ships of the same type.


It’s a target heading (Or Direct Non-instant like Hrobertson calls it). Loads of games have those. Either controlled by moving the mouse or clicking the mous in a certain direction. EVE-Online, WarThunder, matine ship games, many space games.

It is efficient but completely removes any direct controll of the ship. The player is the commander and the ship computer or npc pilot actually steers the ship. It’s also much easier as the computer can calculate and execute the most optimal maneuvre to reach a certain heading or speed.


In truth, I think there’s little need to discuss so intensly the “input reactivity” when the gameplay is yet to be defined.

Let’s just wait and see :slight_smile:


I think this has nothing to do with input lag. There is no input lag with any of the discussed solutions. The game never featured ‘lag’ free input like a first person shooter, because spaceships can’t move their view at an instant like a player in an fps.
The question is how the game translates the mouse movements to the ship, the current solution may work for smaller ships but for larger ships it becomes a problem. Even turning with smaller ships in atmospheric flight is almost unusable. Not one of the proposed alternatives would make the aiming any less precise with a mouse.


Fixed that for you.

Loads of games have the Direct Freelancer/Everspace system where the player can only set the desired heading within the confines of their view and the rotation speed is very limited. If anyone can provide an example of a game with this scheme that has had a serious competitive scene, please let me know.

I don’t know of any game that has had direct non-instant control without the viewport limitation and without the slow rotational speed limit.

The viewport limitation is to prevent the player losing track of where their ‘cursor’ is, but if ships can do a 180° in a few seconds then this becomes unnecessary.
The viewport limitation prevents the consistency of “x inches of mouse movement = y degrees of rotation regardless of how fast the mouse was moved (x:y ratio is determined by player’s mouse sensitivity)” which is vitally important for competitive games. For further reading, Google “why mouse acceleration is bad”.


The more I think about this, the more I’m intrigued. When I snap my mouse in a direction, does my head turn instantly to face that direction, with the ship following, or does the on-screen indicator slide right off the screen and I look forward as my ship turns to try to align to it?

In either case, three seconds would be far too long. I would think 1 second for a 180 degree turn would be appropriate in a fighter. One second is a long time. Three is an eternity.

Note that I would love to have the immediate head-turning system. If I want to look around without realigning my ship, I can use the traditional free-look keys. With the head-turning system, I would feel more like I was in an FPS. I wouldn’t have FPS-speed weapons (unless the fighter’s weapons were gimballed a bit, as I’ve suggested), but at least I wouldn’t feel like a wooden doll strapped into a chair.

Tying heading to view direction would be a setting, of course. Some people prefer the wooden doll.


E:D in a nutshell.


I actually smell possibility in this idea. Given the virtual cockpits they’ve already put so much effort into, why not use looking around as the main control? It’s certainly immersive, though we’d need to test it to see how practical it was.

Look; ship follows. So simple.

Edit: It could work quite well for capital ships too if turrets were tied to the look direction. Mouselook to aim and toggle whether that’s independent of ship heading or not. Possibly even: look in a direction, select it as a desired heading, then look round and fire as the ship turns and flies that way.

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All ideas that can be play tested.

I originally wrote 1 second but thought people would say that’s too fast. Again, the speed can be adjusted with testing.


An example of a game that has a virtual heading that the ship tries to follow is Robocraft. It has two control modes for any vehicle that you make (All the vehicles are self-made from parts). One where you move the mouse to aim the guns, FPS style, with the ship being controlled exclusively by movement keys, and one where the ship/tank/etc always turns to face the direction that the camera is facing. It works really well.

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Interesting idea, but how would that be compatible with 3rd person mode ?


Mouse movements change the direction of the camera. The ship would then turn to ensure that the camera/ship relative orientation remains the same. In first person, the camera turns on a point inside the cockpit. In third person, the camera swings in an arc around the ship because the ship has to remain in front of the camera.


Disclaimer: I have not thought about this thoroughly, so bear with me… :stuck_out_tongue:

Imagine a capital ship (for argument’s sake, a destroyer). Big, heavy, slow. Assuming the dev-plan is for 3rd person control to be a big part of capital ships, then we are looking at the exterior of the destroyer through an orbital camera view.

How I envision this kind of look-to-fly control in this scenario is as follows:

  • Mouse is bound to look as default by orbiting the ship, keeping the destroyer in the centre of the screen (probably offset slightly so we can see past the ship).
  • The crosshair is centred and this is what the turrets (try to) follow.
  • To keep in line with the already stated idea of 1st Person look-to-fly, the destroyer could automatically attempt to turn so it is facing in the same direction the crosshair is pointing.
  • This could be decoupled (perhaps a toggle, or holding a key) so the player can keep the destroyer flying on the same heading, while rotating the turrets to fire at a target.
  • If re-coupled during looking and firing, the destroyer would once again begin turning to match heading with the cursor, allowing the player to change direction without losing track of their target.

I do see issues with the ship physically being in the way visually using this, unless the orbital view allows targeting and turrets track automatically as in the ICP.

An alternative solution could be a temporary aiming mode with a much closer orbital camera that faces outwards from the ship, and rotates around the ship as the player moves the mouse to look around.