Warp, Gates, and FTL: the merits of each

    Discussion in 'Features' started by Jimbo Jambo, Oct 14, 2013.

    1. Jimbo Jambo

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      There's a lot of talk about faster travel systems. It's probably the most common suggestion behind round planets, and, while I'm not up-to-date on development plans, I believe it's already on the drawing board. Before anything goes through though I think we should take a moment to think about what a fast travel system would really mean.

      There's a myriad of faster-than-light travel technologies from all corners of the sci-fi world, but with techno babble aside, most do pretty much the same thing. I've grouped what I know of into three systems for examination. Each has its own strengths and challenges and each will ultimately shape the Starmade universe in a different way.



      Warp/Hyperspace/Slipstream

      Probably the most well-known faster-than-light system and probably one of the most used. Whether you're warping space around your ship, encasing it in a subspace bubble, or tunneling through the fourth spacial dimension, every system like this basically performs the same function: make the ship go really really fast.

      Despite its popularity, however, it's probably my least favorite solution to our situation, being the least interesting and uninspired. It's basically just a turbo speed button for ships, effectively making the entire universe smaller, and it will face challenges when you're traveling faster than asteroids can load.

      Still, it will probably the easiest to implement and, being the most familiar, will probably be easiest to use. It will also add an extra dimension of balance -- if, for instance, it required so much power that only large ships could use it, it would create a dependance on carriers for smaller ships which cannot afford to warp themselves.

      I would suggest greatly increasing the void between star systems if this were implemented, so that warp is not a necessity for interplanetary travel but is still useful for interstellar.



      Gates/Wormholes/Transwarp hubs

      Anyone who's watched any sci-fi over the last 15 years knows how this works: connect a gate at point A to one at point B and you can jump between the two instantaneously.

      Exploration would still have to be done manually, which keeps the vastness of space form being cheapened, but once established, players could build gates between popular locations, effectively creating an interstellar highway through which much of a server's traffic can pass. It would allow people in distant corners of the galaxy to remain connected with the rest while still allowing others to live in seclusion if they choose.

      Unfortunately, buildable gates are riddled with complicated problems. Will each gate be able to connect to multiple destinations? If so, how do you interact with the gate's control while inside your ship? What if your ship gets stuck in the gate, or worse, what if the destination gate is a different shape or has something obstructing it? What if some smartass links the world's main hub gate to the middle of a planet, or right next to a star?

      One possible solution is to have rare, naturally occurring wormholes. It might add an unwelcome degree of randomness, but it would solve a number of issues: uniform sizes keep you from entering a tunnel whose exit is too small, and having no solid borders, as well as a non-buildable area surrounding the wormhole, makes it impossible to get stuck. Keeping them rare also gives them real value, rather than being a commodity everyone has in their back yard, and further increases traffic through them, making them great places for merchants -- or pirate ambushes!



      FTL/Jumping

      FTL stands for Faster-Than-Light, which can be used to apply to any of these systems, but when I say FTL I'm referring specifically to the FTL drive from Battlestar Galactica and the aptly named strategy game FTL: Faster Than Light. But, interestingly enough, the FTL drive is actually a bit of a misnomer: rather than traveling faster than light, or indeed, traveling at all, FTL essentially pulls a wormhole over the ship, instantaneously bringing it to its destination (or bringing its destination to it).

      It sounds pretty simple -- press a button, teleport to sector -- but the details of exactly how it works and what it requires will determine the impact it has. Make it too fast and easy and it's basically the same as warp. You could require jump beacons to be placed at destinations beforehand, like the ones used in the FTL game, but then it's basically the same as gates (albeit without many of the complications). And what if there's an obstruction in the sector you want to jump to, like a planet? I suppose it would bump you over to the nearest empty space, but what if that happens to be the inside of a hollow cube lined with hostile turrets?

      Would the FTL drive take time to engage, or would it be instant, allowing for a quick getaway when things start to get rough? Would you be able to spool it up beforehand, allowing you to jump when you want to but making misplaced or mistimed jumps costly? Would its range be limited, allowing for quick travel between nearby locations but still requiring time to reach distant destinations? Would you be able to calibrate it like weapons, changing parameters like distance and spool-up time, or could the dimensions of the drive you build be used to determine these?





      I'm sure we'll be seeing fast travel some time in the near future, but it's important to think long and hard about what exactly we want out of it. I hope this will provoke discussion and maybe offer some food for thought for the dev.
       
    2. SmoothGuy

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      Lot of guys already said that having a warp drive would be just too easy (wich i disagree with)
      Yet having gates wich could transport you across 10-20 sectors would be quite acceptable (since you would be able to build custom scale along with dimensions and style)
       
    3. Snapems

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      A warp-gate block could easily define a uniform area, much like docking already does.

      My hope is that this game doesn\'t use a single travel mechanic. - And that Warpgates will have their advantages.

      I.E. Make warp-drive/hyperspeed/whatever - cost a huge cooldown and charge up. - Like 10 minutes+ huge. (And perhaps EMP the ships power for a couple minutes, - so that warping offensively isn\'t OP).

      I really hope we can have multiple mechanics, and that the balance is so that both are used.
       
    4. omelet

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      Warping/hyperspace solution not mentioned but suggested elsewhere would involve a separate dimension that you travel through, which would solve problems with asteroid loading etc. Essentially you would be put in a different reality during warp which would act the same way as normal space except when you exit you are a further distance. The space would not be navigable by itself, or you can only travel in a line, or it damages your ship to do it. This is similar to the concept as done in Babylon 5.

      That being said, I would think the wormhole/stargate idea to be the best.
       
    5. towerbilder

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      i agree stongly with omelet of another universe whare ftl speeds can be made about damage on turning well i think little turns from acedental moves of the mouse need some talarence i think eny more then 45\' angle turns will bypass sheelding blow holes in hull and knock you out of the sub space or eterer dementon space aswell as making the coils/trusters used will change data value making them red and leak a gass texture that lasts for a few secends untill the block is bicked up then it turns back to the truster for the space you enter aswell as max ftl speeds well i say the eqwilent of thust to mass as it is now whare trust for thease are 2x stranth and the max speed is genarated with that and a rate making it so at eny selected speed damage acures to the sheelds that increases with speed (please make the textures of sheelds a ranbow of colors it will looks so trippy) in other words the balance needed will be power for the driveing trusters the shelds and truster blocks the power and regen for the shelds and this if balanced right will leave a smallest ship that can do this is unarmed making big ships have to be the ones that use this not the smaller ones as far as fighting if you get in one in this space you eather hope you max speed in the space is faster then his or you drop out of the space untill he leaves the area of sub space or he gets out to the space that lets you turn to fight (normal space) asfor turents atacking back in sub space i think the recharge of antimater is increesed and misiles detanate without worning in the space to make fights in the space less favurble making normal space still used for battle and peaple who cant aford or bld big enuf to enter the space yet



      asfor the other segestons insta telaporting ftl sulotons i dont think will work for 2 reasons 1 all you need to escape a fight is ingage and the flash loading made by this i think will make alittle to musch load (i dont do gaming programing asmuch as others so i might be over steping thare but needless to say i know the balaanceing will be harder then we think now)
       
    6. MrFURB

      MrFURB Madman of the Girders

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      A viable fast travel system is going to be one that doesn\'t negatively affect the game or social interactions within the game for either lone wolves just trying to get to one place or another or for larger groups trying to wage warfare. There\'s a wide range of options for what to do in Starmade, and we need a FTL system that makes long travel times less inconvenient without ruining ANY aspect Starmade.

      It\'s implimentation would need to interact with current and future game mechanics smoothly. This is actually one of the easier parts to keep track of. Just ask yourself this: Does this particular system require any extra rules in order to be balanced? This is one of the reasons I\'m not in favor of a warp drive. It creates potential for so many misuse cases that it requires a large set of additional limits and rules in order for it to be on par with the useability of other suggestions.

      Warpgates, though, have their limitations creatively built right into the frame. They foster social interactions, both hostile and benign (Think of \'gatecamps\' from EVE online or Allegiance) and still have some creative options/uses when combined with other game mechanics. Imagine a system of connected warpgates on all of a faction\'s carriers. When one sends out the alarm ALL of them nomatter where they are, can send their charges into the fray.
       
    7. Jimbo Jambo

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      \"A warp-gate block could easily define a uniform area, much like docking already does.

      My hope is that this game doesn\'t use a single travel mechanic. - And that Warpgates will have their advantages.\"

      What I meant by uniform is for both gates to be the same size and shape. What happens when you enter a gate big enough for your ship and come out through one that isn\'t?

      Having multiple systems would be neat though.



      \"Warping/hyperspace solution not mentioned but suggested elsewhere would involve a separate dimension that you travel through, which would solve problems with asteroid loading etc. Essentially you would be put in a different reality during warp which would act the same way as normal space except when you exit you are a further distance. The space would not be navigable by itself, or you can only travel in a line, or it damages your ship to do it.\"

      Sounds kind or boring, doesn\'t it? Just sitting in a tunnel waiting to arrive at your destination. But then again, it wouldn\'t be any worse than what we\'re doing now. And it\'s not as if every moment of this game has to be a thrilling roller coaster ride. Just so long as I don\'t have to hold W the whole time.

      When I first read your post though, I could not help but think about the warp zones in Star Fox 64.



      \"A viable fast travel system is going to be one that doesn\'t negatively affect the game or social interactions within the game for either lone wolves just trying to get to one place or another or for larger groups trying to wage warfare. There\'s a wide range of options for what to do in Starmade, and we need a FTL system that makes long travel times less inconvenient without ruining ANY aspect Starmade.\"

      This is my hope.

      However it\'s worth remembering that this game is still in alpha, so features, even those we enjoy, are inevitably going to be reworked, reshaped, and sometimes removed altogether if they don\'t mesh with new content.
       
    8. Genocidal_Jawa

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      if you are able to change its paramiters would you be able to make it so that you can pull a small fleet wit you with out docking or would you take your enemy with you so save you comrades. also if you go in to hyper space and someone maches your speed would they be able to engage you in combat, also for the warp gates you could extend the reach of the activation beam that you use to open hangers on carriers when you use a small ship you could make large circular gates as seen in star gate SG-1 you could make a super gate like that and when you use the activation beam and it could bring up a list of gates , or you could type in the cordnates of a gate and it would take you their.
       
    9. Genocidal_Jawa

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      i suggest that you do a animartion so that the players don\'t get too board look at Supreme comanders loading screans for example.
       
    10. Legolas170

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      I\'d prefer warp gates, personally. I picture a warp gate as a structure that has one purpose, to generate power for a \'warp beacon\' to come online. Instead of having a warp gate be something you fly through, I picture it like a kind of all access mass relay, so you can access it anywhere, but can only arrive at the Warp gate. This would require the standard no power shields and weapons down thing, but it solves many problems. You cand warp into a \'too small\' warp gate, exploration is required, and you can only warp if you have a large ship.





      Thoughts?
       
    11. Legolas170

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      I\'d prefer warp gates, personally. I picture a warp gate as a structure that has one purpose, to generate power for a \'warp beacon\' to come online. Instead of having a warp gate be something you fly through, I picture it like a kind of all access mass relay, so you can access it anywhere, but can only arrive at the Warp gate. This would require the standard no power shields and weapons down thing, but it solves many problems. You cand warp into a \'too small\' warp gate, exploration is required, and you can only warp if you have a large ship.





      Thoughts?
       
    12. saberrom

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      what about the mass realy system form mass effect or some thing like it
       
    13. Ithirahad

      Ithirahad Arana'Aethi

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      I\'d like to see multiple methods, as said before. Warp drive should be really easy, but take MASSIVE amounts of power and have an extremely long cooldown, making it basically capital-only. Gates should be unlimited for ship size, but static, and still require a lot of power for a large one. Mobile teleportation I just don\'t like, unless it\'s maybe extremely limited - taking you back to the nearest shop, one use, long chargeup, and extremely expensive?
       
    14. MarkAskar

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      I wouldn\'t be adverse to seeing multiple FTL methods implemented, but I\'m here to specifically discuss one method in particular. I\'d like to see something like Battlestar Galactica\'s FTL jump system, and I\'m about to enumerate some features that I think are necessary.



      First of all, jumping is hard. No, it\'s not \"hard\" in a gameplay sense, but in a strategic sense. For the actual mechanics, perhaps the user has to input a target sector within jump range (which will, of course, have to be limited. How limited is open to debate.). However, only certain ships should be able to make a jump. It should be something that only large ships are capable of, or ships that are specifically designed with jumping in mind. Having a non-capital ship be jump capable should be a major tradeoff, like how having a true stealth ship currently costs such an immense amount of power that giving it great weapons/shields/engines is simply out of the question.



      It should take time and energy for a ship to jump. It doesn\'t have to be long. Perhaps your ship has to be \"sitting still\" for 30 seconds (or 60, or 15, or whatever) to perform the necessary calculations. By \"sitting still\", I mean receiving no movement orders from the pilot. The ship could be hurtling along at 1000000km/s, but it should not be gaining speed or changing orientation during the \"charge\" time. The actual jump should also drain a massive amount of energy, perhaps even the entirety of a ship\'s reserves. These mechanics would greatly balance jumping. To safely jump, you would need to remain in a relatively vulnerable position/trajectory long enough to make a jump, and have sufficient energy to do so. However, ships should still be able to make a sort of instantaneous, emergency jump. There are multiple ways to balance this. At the very least, the ship should have all power drained and shields disabled after it jumps, perhaps the ship should even suffer from complete power loss and be disabled for a small period of time (60 seconds?) before it begins to recover. In addition to the aforementioned effects, perhaps the ship should jump to a random sector instead of one chosen by the pilot. This way, you could still escape bad situations in an instant without needing to \"charge\" your FTL, but you\'d be left in a random location (in jump range of course. Perhaps sectors away, or perhaps two feet from where you jumped) and temporarily disabled.



      Someone above mentioned limiting the power of offensive jumps, but I don\'t think that should be a concern. Rather, I\'d like to see ships jump in offensively to reinforce allies/launch surprise attacks. Additionally, I don\'t mind the concept of laying \"traps\" as someone else above seemed worried about. There should be nothing stopping someone from boxing a warp gate or what have you with turrets. Once someone knows that the warpgate is boxed, they could warn others or launch an effort to destroy the box using subluminal speeds. Many of the things I mentioned here about \"jump\" method could just as easily be applied to traditional \"warp\" methods. Perhaps instead of inputting coordinates, you just charge up the FTL drive like I mentioned above to go from subluminal to FTL speeds in an isntant. You could even include the same \"emergency\" system, where you would go from 0 to FTL without charging but suffer severe damage to your hull or perhaps your FTL drive explodes. There\'s plenty of possibilities.



      Those are my thoughts on FTL currently. I personally prefer the BSG \"jump\" method, but both \"warp\" and \"gates\" methods can also be great if implemented properly.
       
    15. Kael

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      I love the warpgate Idea. Here\'s a bit of what I think.

      To access a gate while in ship, a button could be pressed on the keyboard, and an interface would appear with details about the warpgate such as where it goes, who owns it and the different gates you can travel to using it.



      An access code could be applied to a gate to prevent other factions or people from using it. A non-buildable area could be set around the gate to prevent warping into collisions. The gate could also have a recharge time and a ship limit ( say 5 ships per recharge or maybe less) to prevent mass armadas from swarming.

      The gate could also require power or resources to operate to prevent it from being too OP. You could also put a toll on the gate so factions or players could make profit off it.
       
    16. questorhank

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      Say hyperspace should be added, The ship could just \"navigate\" around planets, suns, asteroids, but still hit ships.
       
    17. refirendum

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      I think if you make warpgates like docking, if you warp from a large enough warpgate to a smaller one, you can\'t warp back until you find a gate that\'s big enough. or that when you warp, the warpgate must be connected to a planet (and cannot be part of a station or ship) and when you warp, you warp to the selected warpgate\'s sector (which also has to contain a planet with a warpgate) (utilizing the whole gravity well theory for warping)
       
    18. FireyDeath100

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      I think that there should be some sort of gun that creates a wormhole in front of your ship, you would be able to type in the coordinates of any sector you\'ve been to, but it has to be a certain number of sectors away. To do this, you would have to create an array of these wormhole gun blocks like any other weapon, the length of the gun will affect how many sectors away you can travel, width will affect a sort of charge for the gun (before the portal appears), and height affects the size of the wormhole (the height will have to be big for giant ships). So if you are a fighter you will be limited, but if a carrier or some other ship is near, you can follow them through while the wormhole is still open. There might have to be a load screen of some sort though. and there will have to be some set position for an entry to a new sector, so if it is obstructed, it can be moved by the player creating the wormhole, kinda like a set spawn system, but only a wormhole can take you there. I hope you like this idea. BTW make the color of the wormhole chose able in the Wormhole Gun Computer, it might add some dramatic affect.
       
    19. FireyDeath100

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      P.S.

      Add a timer between wormhole creations from the Gun itself, so there can\'t be people creating wormholes all over the place. So if there is a big array of the Gun, you will have to wait longer. Fighters will warp whenever they want, but because of the size of thier array, they wont warp very far, maybe a sector or two. Minnimum timer should be a minute.
       
    20. FireyDeath100

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      P.S. Again

      The fighter will want to follow a bigger ship because of thier tiny array, making it worth to follow a ship with many poweful fighters.
       
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