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
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!
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.
I’m working on TorchShips again in a very limited ‘as time permits’ mode. I’ll begin doing short updates on this site fairly regularly (bi-weekly or maybe monthly). At this point I’m mainly doing design work and some testing of the tools I’ll need to get the game out the door.
I’ve changed my thoughts about the direction of the game somewhat based on more research on Atomic Rockets, backer comments and questions, and from playing a lot of the new space games like Elite Dangerous, Kerbal, and Rodina. All of which are excellent and I highly recommend you check them out – Kerbal for one is amazing – it has turned my ‘not that interested in space’ older son to someone who understands orbital mechanics. He is now interested in a space engineering career, and can intelligently critique the physics errors in the movie Gravity 🙂
I also am inspired by the feel and engagement caused by permadeath in large unregulated multiplayer environments. Rust or DayZ are good examples of this – when this works it is very powerful – actions have real consequences and players are forced to make critical decisions that really matter – emotionally and within the game. Yes there are a bunch of retarded griefers running all over these servers – but done right these worlds have room for all types – warriors, explorers, builders, and even 12 year old psychotics….
My high level goal for TorchShips is to present as many aspects of what living and fighting in space could really be like.
Based on that the design elements have changed somewhat from the original vision, here they are this point…
3-D combat & UI.
Newtonian physics – your ship maneuvers in 3-D space using a reaction drive.
Procedurally generated world.
Muliplayer from the start, maybe some solo missions for tutorial purposes but at core game is multiplayer. Either session or server based like Rust/Dayz or possibly one large contiguous world like Eve Online (server technology permitting).
Some rpg/rogue-like elements but core game is space combat and some exploration, less emphasis on crafting/grinding/leveling. Progression is ship based, not character based – you start very small (small pod with limited weapons) and work up to larger more capable craft.
No FTL – the games takes place in a solar system other than our own but assumption is Humanity got there through sublight means.
I’m going to suspend commercial development on TorchShips.
One of the reasons for the kickstarter was to raise the funds to work on it full time through 1st release – unfortunately the numbers weren’t there (though the passionate support from existing backers was great – thank you) and working part time I haven’t made the progress I expected.
I still want to finish TorchShips – but the economics don’t really make sense to do it as a commercial venture at this point – I will still work on it as time permits and do some sort of non-commercial open source or freeware/donation release with modding support – but that will take quite a bit longer.
I will continue to post occasional updates at TorchShips.com – but they will be infrequent at best.
Thanks for your support and I’m sorry that this project did not get out the door in the timeline I expected.
I had originally planned on a demo release today but it looks like I need at least another couple of weeks to complete it. I’m doing some additional AI work on the enemy vessels and implementing features that will help make the game more moddable in the future. I also went ahead and upgraded to Unity Pro so I’m incorporating some higher resolution textures as well.
I’ve reached agreement with FastSpring to handle setting up the pre-order/donate tiers to match the Kickstarter pledge levels – but will wait to turn those on until the demo is released.
At this point I’m planning on a release for July 27th. I will notify everyone via the site and Kickstarter when the release goes out.
The forum is available if you have any questions or comments.
Since the Kickstarter campaign didn’t reach the funding goal I’ve been looking at alternatives…
Below is ‘plan B’ – with estimated dates for completion.
* Set up a method for players to pre-purchase and register the game at torchships.com – using similar tiers and rewards that I used for Kickstarter for a limited time (the $1 and $10 tiers will go away and the $25 tier will drop to $20) . Once you pre-purchase you are entitled to all future releases and enhancements of the game. [done by July 1]