Screenshot – Asteroid

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Nice asteroid from Unity3d Asset Store. Great discussion on the forum about what space should look like – good points all – so I’ve dropped the ‘fancy’ stuff – no nebula, whirling galaxies, or pink gas clouds. Visual style is hard shadows, reflective surfaces in sunlight ‘wash-out’ the stars.

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Updated Control Scheme

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As you can tell from the earlier videos movement in your suit was pretty ponderous. I was basing this on other spacesuit simulators and what I’ve seen on videos of actual spacewalks.

After a lot of internal testing, frustration, and additional research I’ve changed the control scheme. Attitude change is much faster, you still have inertia and mass but you can change orientation in pitch, roll, and yaw relatively quickly. These changes are done with a single-gimbal control moment gyroscope mounted in your MMU. The gyroscope approach can produce a lot of torque for small power amounts and doesn’t waste precious reaction mass.

I’ve posted a video of the new control scheme – mouse for orientation (left/right yaw, up/down pitch,  left/right with right mouse down for roll) and wasd keys for thrust forward/port/starboard/aft.

I believe this is approach more accurately reflects the future maneuverability of spacesuits and combat spacecraft.  Ships will be able to change facing and orientation very quickly to unmask weapons or to use armored or less vulnerable sections of the ship to absorb incoming damage.  Of course changing orientation does not affect your velocity vector – changing that will always take time and reaction mass.

I’m a week or two from releasing the first technical demo to early access members, with the first public demo to go out in late November. These demos will not have a lot of ‘game’ in them – they will mainly serve to introduce the initial control scheme and look and feel of TorchShips.

(Note on the images and video, still a lot of placeholder art, including the hud frame which was created by Entereri)

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PBS on the Physics of Space Battles

PBS short film on the Physics of Space Battles – some good points…

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Spacesuits and new Video

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I’ve posted a new short video of the updated spacesuit helmet cam. You wont’t spend a lot of time in a spacesuit in TorchShips but you will need some basic instruments to navigate and check status before you acquire a more capable vehicle.

Displays are at chin level. Left side is consumables – power, deltaV, maneuvering thruster fuel, and life support.  Center display is courseline, your current vector. Right side is selected target display.

I’m assuming ~50 years ahead (equivalent not calendar time) for initial suit tech – most common comfort/usability issues  are solved (gloves, flexible joints, etc) . It will be a skinsuit with attached armor over critical points. The armor is mainly to protect against impacts and/or tears. You can see more info on spacesuit design at Atomic Rockets.

The challenge I’m facing is finding good 3d models of this type of suit. I’m using one of the free NASA spacesuit 3d models for the POV (the camera is inside the suit helmet bowl) right now, but would like to have a more realistic look for the demo. Please contact me directly if you know anyone or company doing interesting work with spacesuit 3d models – I’m looking for a realistic design with skinsuit, some armor panels, and a manned maneuvering unit with appropriate thrusters attached.

Some initial thoughts on the capabilities of your suit.

  • 500 m/s available deltaV (for comparison sake – the NASA SAFER system has a deltaV of 3 m/s, MMU is ~25 m/s, the Air Force AMU had 76 m/s deltaV)
  • life support good for 48 hours
  • basic thermal and optic passive sensors, no active systems in base suit
  • each individual suit can have very different color schemes and heraldry

 

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Forum created

forum_torch

I’ve created a forum for TorchShips.

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Early Access Program

I ran a Kickstarter campaign for Torchships in the spring of 2012 – though it didn’t hit the funding goal I did get a lot of great comments, ideas, and offers of support from backers.

I then suspended development for over a year, but I can’t let this project go quietly into the night. There are a lot of great space based games in the works right now (Star Citizen, Elite Dangerous, Limit Theory, and my personal favorite Kerbal Space Program) but none of them are what I had envisioned as a realistic space combat game. So I’ve restarted development and plan to keep going until at least a 1.0 release.

I’ll be working on TorchShips as time permits over the next year – with a lot of alpha and beta releases along the way.

I’ve set up an early access program with similar awards/benefits as the original Kickstarter campaign.

Remember there are always risks associated with an early access program – the game could end up substantially different from what you imagined or I could get hit by a bus. I do promise that the 1.0 version of the game will be released on time (Oct 2015) and with the majority of the features outlined in the FAQ.

Thanks for your support and I am looking forward to working with you on TorchShips!

See more details on the early access program and the reward tiers.

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Video Update & Initial Game Point-of-View

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I updated the About page to better reflect my goals for the reboot.

I also posted a tech demo video of what the initial start of TorchShips will look like. The POV (point of view) is your own spacesuit equipped with a MMU (manned maneuvering unit) – mouse to head-look, WASD to rotate your suit, T to thrust in whatever direction you are facing.

All movement is Newtonian – facing direction doesn’t matter unless thrust is applied, objects in motion stay in motion.

The scenario takes place in a crowded asteroid ring system around a planet.  Your initial goal is to upgrade your MMU with weapons and improved propulsion, and then eventually find and command much more capable space combat vehicles scattered across the system. A cataclysmic event has reset the space based civilization in orbit and the survivors must rebuild and locate existing resources to survive.

Spacesuit or FPS based combat is not the main focus of TorchShips (see Shattered Horizon for that) but the core POV will be you in your suit, at least to start. As you find and board more capable craft your UI and capabilities will improve.

The tech demo is using Unity3D.

 

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