HV Hover Engine and Handling Improvements

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by IronCartographer, Oct 20, 2017.

  1. IronCartographer

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    Even simpler version/summary (#3) :

    Give hover engines "downward pulling" force (toward a surface, not just away), allow them to be placed in any orientation, and change the Fixed hover mode to Float (like an SV but requiring a surface near the hover engines to fly).

    Optional: Allow the hover engines to push "sideways" relative to a surface so they can operate in orbital CVs/BAs, or even underwater.

    ------------------

    Version #2:

    1) Eliminate HV directional thrusters (making HVs cheaper) -- they can be replaced with...
    2) Allow hover engine force to be applied in any direction, not just pushing "up" from a surface, but pushing/pulling in any direction. Optionally also make them work with/underwater with some reduction in power, instantly creating submersibles and solving the problem with mining meteorites that land in lakes.
    3) Make hover engines have force proportional to their proximity to the surface they are pointing at. Optionally make the "pull" force slightly smaller than "push" can be, to make upside-down driving slightly weaker.
    4) Allow hover engines to be placed in any orientation, so they can gain power from a surface above you if placed in what we currently consider the "upside down" orientation
    5) Change shift-O to toggle between "float" and "hover" modes. Float mode makes the HV handle like an SV or the drone, but still unable to leave the ground since the hover engine can only work near a surface. Hover mode makes the HV handle as it currently does (maintaining a target distance from nearby surfaces with every hover engine)--with the added capability of following curved walls and even going upside down -> Crazy fun handling in tunnels.
    6) With HVs now capable of being incredibly responsive even with high masses (hover engines are very powerful and efficient), add a new Heavy Armor Block small-block with 500 HP but 5-10x the mass (vs. only 2.5x the HP) of Hardened Blocks.
    7) Optional: Remove the Hover Booster. If the hover engines are extremely powerful but only when very close to the surface, an HV could "jump" above its max constant-hover height and fall back down to it--no special logic or blocks required.

    The HV effects:
    1) Cheaper and simpler to build, good for beginners and progression. Seat, generator, fuel, RCS, at least one hover engine.
    2) Handle smoothly in all situations, with "set target orientation" (float mode) and "set target height" (hover mode) instead of the painful "fixed" toggle (especially the auto-enabled fixed-lock when drilling...grrr.)
    3) Pilot in space--only next to surfaces--without arbitrary "thrusters disabled because reasons" logic. Mine asteroids with your HV by driving around on their surfaces in zero-g! Drive around in your CV's hangar! Transfer your HV to/from an SV if/when HV->SV docking works!
    4) Tank builds can now make use of much more durable (and extremely heavy!) blocks, for a true "tanky" experience, giving even more reason to use them instead of SVs.
    5) Creative combat thinking with more possibilities. Imagine a huge 3D maze POI designed to be taken on by entering with a hover tank and driving through its depths of vertical passages. Someone might bring an SV the first time, only to realize they really needed more armor... :D

    Aside: If SV/CV thrusters were "reactionless" versions of HV engines, things would be a lot more consistent, and more clearly a tech upgrade from HVs. It has always seemed that an SV with conventional thrusters should be simpler to build (lower tech level). But I don't expect this to be changed. ;)








    Original post, version #1:

    Decided to make a real thread for this otherwise offtopic post seen here: https://empyriononline.com/threads/alpha-7-out-now.21962/page-9#post-179004

    The orientation lock setting should toggle between auto-level and maintain-orientation-of-last-input so that you can simply stop aiming and it will stabilize at the position you stopped rotating even if it overshoots and has to rotate back on its own. (Edit: Think of this as the hover-equivalent of the auto-brake toggle in space, for resting hover angle instead of flight speed.)

    I also wish hover engines had force vectoring (pushing at angles to the ground, giving both hover and sideways motion) with strength based on distance to the nearest surface, and the ability to climb / pull toward upside-down surfaces. The result: HVs wouldn't use thrusters at all, thus making sense of being unable to fly in space!

    Imagine being able to dig in any orientation, even upside down, incredibly fluidly. The only drawback I can think of is being "stuck" to the ground, requiring a hover booster to cancel the "sticky" attraction of the added "pull" element--and then once in the air, having greatly reduced horizontal motion. It depends on how fast a hover engine loses power with distance from the surface (which also affects how "high" you could hover below something upside-down without falling off it ;)).
     
    #1
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
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  2. IronCartographer

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    I completely forgot to mention a few amazing implications of the above changes:
    1. HVs could be used in/on orbital BA/CV, so you could actually move them within hangars and easily rescue them from space! o_O
    2. Hovering close to the ground would give very "firm" suspension, while hovering far from it would give more soft handling (less engine force at higher hover heights)
    3. With thrusters obsolete, new players building HVs would experience a better learning / resource cost curve!
    4. Also with the old thrusters gone, new ones could take their place: Submersible, underwater-only turbines... :)
     
    #2
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  3. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    I think the first part of this (force inversely proportional to distance from surface) is the key to smoothing out the motion of HVs. Hover engines currently lack any kind of suspension and thus react instantly to even the smallest change in terrain under them; letting the force from a given engine be inversely proportional to the distance from it to the object underneath it might largely solve this problem, even without any time-dependent damping.

    Thrust vectoring on hover engines would definitely be nice for lower-power/early-game HVs (and shouldn't be terribly difficult to program), but I think that we're always going to want the option to mount thrusters for greater acceleration (consider the X-34 landspeeder, which had repulsors in it as well as dedicated main thrusters).

    I'm not entirely sold on HVs being able to wall/ceiling-climb, however. But, they should function in the presence of a gravity generator, so that they could be of use on large space stations and CVs.
     
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  4. IronCartographer

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    That's a fair compromise. I hadn't thought of simply enabling hovers in the presence of gravity generators. If they could move relative to any surface, gravity wouldn't matter at all unless you made the mistake of going too far "up" (boosting off the surface) and need a way to fall back again. :)

    Being able to wall-climb is mostly something I would enjoy for mining HVs so they can travel underground in any direction, but it's not a requirement to improve handling. The hover engine strength being based on distance from the surface might be sufficient. Alternately, the "pull" force could be made very small compared to the "push" strength, so only lightweight HVs with very little distance between them and the ceiling would be able to stay attached upside down!

    As for thrust vectoring and the removal of current HV thrusters--it depends on how much of an angle the force can be redirected. The main reason would be to obliterate the question "Why can't HVs fly and travel through space if they have thrusters just like SVs?!" but the learning curve effect would be good as well.

    "Want to build a simple hover bike? Just put together a generator, fuel tank, seat, and a couple hover engines!"

    Maybe RCS and thrusters turbines could be optional enhancements for HVs, with the turbines limited to atmospheric / aquatic use?
     
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  5. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    That's an interesting mechanic resulting from a very general model; I like it and would be fine with it.

    I mean, I've always felt that there's not really a difference between an HV and an SV; they're two versions of the same basic craft specialized for different use cases. The devs seem intent on forcibly carving out different niches for HVs and SVs, where I'd prefer the configuration to determine what the ship is good for. Hover engines seem naturally suited to more massive vehicles that are either carrying a lot of material or a lot of armor and weapons, and need to do so efficiently for long periods of time. It would certainly be possible to set the stats of hover engines and thrusters such that massive vehicles on a planet favor hover engines.

    Unless hover engines also gain turning ability, we're always going to need at least one RCS device. I'd love to see turbine-based engines limited to non-vacuum environments, but it's not clear to me if the devs care about that bit of consistency/realism.
     
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  6. IronCartographer

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    If turrets were made extremely heavy, or extremely power hungry (something I'd actually love to see used as a replacement for the turret caps, with thermal load and cooling limits on power generation to create a natural scaling of available power as a CV size increases and--...I digress...) with a heavy generator required to power them, and top speed limitations based on thrust vs. mass (Actually, CVs already do that don't they?), HVs and SVs could be just be merged and configured as desired. I don't expect that to happen, especially with the further upcoming distinction of HV->SV docking, but it could be cool.

    I don't support realism for its own sake, but reality can inspire some sensible game mechanics which actually are fun and logical. :) Obviously the speed caps are artificial but make sense in a game environment. :p
     
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  7. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    <takes deep breaths>

    I wish this idea could be blasted out of the universe, because I'm really getting tired of dealing with it. What matters is acceleration, *not* speed. Max speed should only be limited by what the game engine can handle. Acceleration depends on the thrust and mass of the ship, and should be what varies between ships. Two ships with the same max speed but vastly different accelerations are going to handle in very different ways, which is both what should happen physically and what makes for balanced gameplay.

    One could also just decrease the thrust/mass and thrust/input power ratios for all thrusters, which would tend to favor ships with hover engines, and would force an actual tradeoff between acceleration and armament. But I agree that increasing turret mass and input power requirements would go a long way to making them self-limiting and enable removal of the placement caps.
     
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  8. IronCartographer

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    Believe me, I know how arbitrary it is to impose speed caps--but collision detection gets beyond silly if you allow things to go too fast. :)

    Ah, but you mean with limited thrust. That's true, especially in space. Regardless, I can see the devs' motivation for denying turrets on SVs as a gameplay decision.

    Speed caps as they exist in-game don't bother me.
     
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  9. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    Right, I'm not arguing for unlimited speed, just that all objects should be able to reach the same max speed eventually. Also, weapons that would travel much faster than the ship speed limit (lasers and railguns, mostly) should be made hitscan, which would probably help considerably with performance during combat.

    Yeah, I understand what the devs are trying to achieve by limiting turrets to HVs, I just think they could achieve the exact same thing entirely with tweaking device stats and without needing to create a separate vehicle type (aside from the issue that the movement models for HVs and SVs are not compatible, presumably due to the way they're coded).
     
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  10. Ambaire

    Ambaire Captain

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    God, yes, please. I was just wishing for this last night. Devs, please consider adding 'maintain-orientation-of-last-input'.
     
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  11. 68plex

    68plex Captain

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    The way I see it is this: While yaw and pitch are important for a HV (pitch especially for mining), the roll axis is 90% of the time unneeded, unnecessary, and unwanted. I'd like to see the roll axis default to off on HVs, but allow for the option to toggle it on for those rare moments when a player may find it useful.

    Considering this is only a game, one that's content to rationalize as mere afterthought the far fetched science involved in gameplay... as all scifi games do - and that we're all ok with - they should just do away with HV roll axis, rationalization be damned, and/or give us the ability to toggle it on and off. I think this would make a world of difference in how a HV handles, and solve most of the problems folks have with them... all that tilting and flipping BS! The question is: Can they code this without much difficulty? Or would it be a huge headache? I don't know.

    As for thrust vectoring, I like the idea that more thrusters equals better ability to climb steep slopes. Gives the player the chance to contemplate how to better build and/or improve his craft, and utilize all the nice materials he's acquired. And I especially think that once a player has acquired enough materials and can afford jet thrusters, using even way less numbers of them on the craft should afford the player with some very serious torque for powering in and out of mines and up steep mountains. I feel this is another problem currently, as the jets are just too weak for how expensive they are. If I could power out of deep pit mines with half the trouble that I currently have, mining would be much better all around. Do away with roll also, and HV mining could be a dream... be back to Zen Mining :)
     
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  12. Arrclyde

    Arrclyde Rear Admiral

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    Plus there are other things that go with no speed limit. People will be complaining about everything being just too small because they can reach everything in minutes/seconds.
    In multiplayer the speedlimit is a good example of people not knowing what is best for them. Imagine they are in a pvp situation and hiding behind an astroid lurking for the traveler they saw on the radar.... who is passing them by at 100k mph. Oh i hear the crying. Og and for dogfights you need a lot... i mean a loooooooooooot of space for two players passing each other by and turn for a couple of hundred miles each.

    Aside from the technical issues that go with that, gameplay wise it isn't even practical. With one exception: long distance travel speed. But than you would have to build up speed and enter a stage where collusion isn't an issue. Meaning that people going into travelspeed would enter an alternative playfield that doesn't interact with the actual playfield at all. Like an instance of that same (huge) playfield just for traveling. That might also work. But i don't know if it is that much of an improvement to gameplay.
     
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  13. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    Right, but again, I'm not saying that there shouldn't be speed limits in general. I'm saying that a ship's speed limit shouldn't depend on its class or configuration.
     
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  14. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    I was thinking about hover engines recently, and I think I've come around to @IronCartographer 's stance on hover engines being able to adhere to any surface. Further, I think it might be pretty straightforward to implement this new hover system while still using the standard (non-HV) movement system. The only input the hover system needs to know is what distance it should try to make the hover engines from the closest surface. Then it applies a force proportional to the (signed) difference between the current distance and the target distance, up to the maximum rating of each hover engine (ideally drawing power proportional to the force output).

    This would allow HVs to be used in CV/BA in space, and would also let SVs and HVs be merged (which I realize the devs have said they don't want to do, but I'm going to note the possibility anyway).
     
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  15. IronCartographer

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    Yes, the target force would be proportional to the difference between the current hover 'height' (distance from the engine's anchor surface) and the target height.

    However, the hover engine's maximum possible thrust should also decline with height (distance from the surface itself). Having engines suddenly cut out past some "maximum hover height" is not a pleasant thought, and would cause annoying behavior if "hover engine maximum" and "target height maximum" were arbitrarily coded to be the same thing.
     
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  16. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    Ah, I didn't mean that the hover engines would cut off after their maximum thrust was reached; instead, they'd continue putting out maximum thrust even as the ship got further from the surface. So a ship attached to a ceiling that got a little too far from the ceiling would only slowly drift away from it, rather than drop immediately. Though perhaps it'd be nice to have a drop in the maximum thrust once the ship got substantially further away (maybe at twice the maximum hover distance (as determined by the ship's mass and maximum thrust, and the local gravitational field)).
     
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  17. StyleBBQ

    StyleBBQ Captain

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    +1111111111 :)

    That and, if you have thrusters still, add a 'short range flight ability'. Something like a half kilometer distance and maybe a couple dozen meters height. Basically a way for the HVs to hop over patches of really rough or steep hills terrain. A longer duration hover booster that also had a longer cool down or recharge time. If you've tried an odd numbered seed for Akua the terrain around the start is very steep, so something to make at least some of the extreme hills in that area navigatable. Not the almost sheer cliffs, those are a reasonable barrier to HVs.

    Turrets for SVs: lack of these is one of my main reasons for skipping SVs and going to a micro CV instead. I don't like getting jumped by critters all the time so I'd rather build a micro CV and use it on planet while mining/salvaging. Last couple lengthier playthroughs I just used a small starter HV then right to the mini CV.
     
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  18. Moonsugar

    Moonsugar Rear Admiral

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    You are right from a physicists point of view. The engineer, however, has to deal with problems, that increase not only with the acceleration, but with the speed, too. So its not unrealistic, if the acceleration, a engine can deliver, decreases with its speed.
    And this is a specificum of the engine itself. I could imagine, that we have different engine lines at our disposal: medium acc and medium max speed (the standard), high acc and low max speed (for heavy warships or tanks) and low acc and high max speed (for long range travel or speed-based, light fighters).

    This may applie to HV and SV equally, or could be used to emphasize the difference between them. Of course on top of those other proposals in this thread.
     
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  19. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

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    This is only true of certain kinds of engines. Electric motors, for example, always output maximum torque, regardless of what speed the motor shaft is turning at.

    And how do you sort out the mess that happens when you mix and match engines with different max speeds? Much more useful, in my opinion, would be to classify engines based on their acceleration and thrust/power ratio (for thrusters; replace "thrust" with "torque" for RCS/rotational motors) and leave the max speed as a universal constant (dependent only on the performance of the server itself).

    There are far better ways to emphasize the difference between HVs and SVs without resorting to arbitrary speed caps. Simply increase the mass of armor and turrets, and increase the input power and mass of thrusters, and the desired division will be naturally created (HVs use fuel-efficient heavy-lift hover engines to support large amounts of armor and turrets while SVs use mostly lighter fixed-forward weapons and little armor).

    I'll say it again: max speed should not be a function of ship type; it should be the same for all ships.
     
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  20. IronCartographer

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    Cliffs would be no obstacle if hover engines allowed near-surface flight in any orientation. Seems reasonable to me. Even the motorbike can make a good show of climbing mountains in 8.0... :)
     
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