Weekly Update #67


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.


Oh, you meant third-person-only ships.

I would suggest ditching the third-person-only control scheme. Go with a virtual cockpit for capitals. It would be a camera at the bridge location with a few HUD indications to show the orientation of the ship. Perhaps some scattered points across the ship’s surface to show its general shape. Or perhaps just a centerline indicator. Or a box enclosing the space of the model. Or do something fancier that suggests that the player is floating in a super-high-tech virtual control room. Whatever it is, it would be highly-stylized - because you don’t have the resources for anything fancy.

From there, the player can just look in the direction he wants to go, hit and key and then resume shooting or whatever. Shooting and target designation would always be from the bridge location’s vantage point, free of the problem of a model blocking the view.

Third person would not include any HUD indications - as with smaller ships - and would be used for sight-seeing, docking and so forth. The net result would be that small and large ships provide a consistent experience while being very different to fly. One is twitch turns and fixed guns while the other is fixed turns and twitch guns. Both are from a ‘cockpit’ with a third person view used primarily for tourism and close-in-maneuvering.

If you keep the third person control scheme for capitals, the camera is going to have to be set well back from the ship so that it isn’t always blocking the view of possible enemies. It’s pretty standard for third person capitals, right? That seems fraught with its own problems; modest exploits, situational awareness based on a location away from the capital itself, etc.

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I suggest everyone watches a few videos on the Rockwell Collins F-35 Helmet. It enables the pilot to see through the plane, eg looking down into their lap they can see a view of the ground.
Capital pilots could be in a bridge with a reasonably good view, but able to turn and look in any direction and effectivity see through the ship to see things on the other side.

It would be good if all ships has this for free-look.

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I would certainly prefer the 1st-person version of this control scheme myself.

  • Sit in cockpit/virtual bridge (depending on size of ship) as is already the case in the prototype.
  • Look around (and I like @hrobertson’s idea of the HUD allowing you to “see through” here).
  • Ship attempts to automatically follow your direction of look. On a small ship, this brings fixed weaponry to bear when your ship’s nose comes around, on a capital ship it allows you to fire turrets in the right direction while you wait for the rest of the ship to catch up!

I really like a good 1st-person control scheme. I think this game has the potential to come up with something unique, but something that really complements the mechanics and beautiful design work that has been presented so far. 1st-person (with 3rd-person mainly for sightseeing) would keep this an intense, immersive experience, rather than it becoming a little too arcadey!


I’ve argued for this in the past and have gotten nowhere with it. Battlescape’s ships have a tiny field of view, suggesting essentially zero situational awareness for pilots. Early fighter aircraft had only forward visibility as well, and that was tossed as soon as they got into combat. In a combat environment without a preferred orientation, limited fields of view are dramatically worse for situational awareness.

Last I heard, capitals weren’t going to have modeled bridges, which is why I suggested some kind of stylized indication of the ship’s extent from a chosen bridge location (which could just as easily be dead center of the geometry).

More precisely stated, ship weapons attempt to automatically follow your direction of look. On small ships, that means that the ship must turn as well because of the fixed mounts.

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Robocraft does it in third person, actually, with first person only when you hold down right click for zooming.

It helps that all the guns in the game are turrets, though not all have instant tracking. Particularly the sniper rifles.


Controls are a HUGE issue for me. Especially after the SC debacle.

I’m not going to pull any punches here.

Without proper HOTAS support, I probably won’t be playing this game much.

The game should be designed with joystick and gamepad as a priority. Then develop a vjoy solution that will bring mouse control in line with the capabilities of the other controllers. It’s not an issue of nerfing one controller over another, it’s an issue of proper balance. Any other method will unfortunately cause the community to fracture, imho.


Actually, the prototype works with pretty much with any controller. It lacks an interface to easily designate buttons/axis etc, so it does take a bit of fidgeting with the xml files atm, but it works with enough trial and error. :wink:

It just depends on what you mean by “proper”… and I see your edit.

I can see HOTAS working for corvettes. Unfortunately, interceptors and even bombers are much too fast to have any form of accuracy without toning the acceleration down and being left in the dust by mouse users.

Unfortunately for your position, it’s probably not going to happen. Fortunately, the corvette is a joy to fly atm. :smiley_cat:

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