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Forum » SpaceEngine » Gameplay Discussions » Mothership concept
Mothership concept
SpaceEngineerDate: Sunday, 19.06.2011, 20:17 | Message # 1
Author of Space Engine
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Russian Federation
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Here I shall describe my Mother Spaceship concept. My goal here is to achieve physical realness, except for the energy generator, hyper-drive and other technical details about interplanetary drives, etc.

1) The ship is several kilometres in length and between 100-200 meters in diameter.

2) The ship uses a rocket engine propulsion system. The engines are identical and placed symmetrically on the ship. In addition for reasons of realness the ship is similar in layout to a skyscraper building, instead of the submarine design which we are so accustomed to seeing in games and movies. The engines are at the bottom of the ship and therefore when flying with acceleration, the "gravity" will be directed "downwards" towards the engines.

3) Engines and tanks contain a working substance in them (the reactive mass), which occupies 30-70% of the ship's volume. It is important to consider how the engines are arranged, as they're not chemical, I.e. the energy source and reactive mass (working-substance, propellant) are different things. The engines are very powerful, and can accelerate the ship to 5-10 G, and has a stock characteristic speed ("delta-V") in the order of 1000-10,000 km/s from just one refuelling. (It gives the ship ability to change speeds. I.e. the ship can be accelerated to 100 km/s and stopped several times just from one refuelling). The working substance is crystallized hydrogen, water and some other thing that can be easily collected from space.

4) The energy plant is a separate reactor or combined with engines (fusion engines allows to produce electricity). In the second case, some energy batteries (quantum condensers?) are needed to power ship systems then engines are shut down.

5) The external part of the hull is covered by heat radiators for engines, reactor and habitation/cargo modules. Radiators for engines, reactor and habitation module are different, because they work with different temperatures.

6) There is an anti-meteorite shield in the forward part of the ship. Flying at a speed of 1000 km/s in the interplanetary zone will create the effect of a continuous bombardment of sub relativistic micrometeorites. The shield itself may need to be replaceable, or have separate replaceable modules, or maybe have some kind of magnetic energy shield. The shield should cover all parts of the ship against the flow of space matter; it is therefore necessary to place it more compactly and closely to the longitudinal axis.

7) The cargo and habitation modules are placed behind a meteoric shield, surrounded by a radiation shield. On its surface there are different hatches, air-locks, hangars, viewing decks, telescopes and other sensors, weapon loop-holes etc. What's important is that it's all covered by the forward meteoric shield.

8) If rendering for indoor-scenes are implemented in the engine later, it will be possible to model the interior layout of habitation module. Then it will be possible to walk around the ship too. The ship's layout is similar to a skyscraper, with an internal system of transport (with lifts and escalators). The direction of the floor would run parallel to the length of the ship. There are hand-rails and short flights of stairs located on the walls to aid movement in weightlessness when engines are dis-engaged. At the center of the bridge is the control center where everything is managed, with its panoramic displays, armchairs, diamagnetic jacks of inertia and other such things. Monitor displays would be holographic and look like windows - the player will view external space through such monitors. It would be interesting to conceptualize another layout mode with artificial gravity with the rotation of the ship around the longitudinal axis, where the external walls will become the floor. It's possible to make some parts of the habitation module rotatable: When the ship accelerates, gravity will be directed to the floor of the module, but when the ship shuts off its engines it will switch the habitation module into rotation mode, the module will turn at 90 degrees, so centrifugal "gravity" will again be directed to the module's floor. Windows aren't present on the ship, only the special observation deck will have them. And of course, windows will not be on the external part of the meteoric shield

9) The ship has on-board factories, where new shuttles, modules and other devices can be manufactured using resources taken from planets or synthesized by on-board nuclear-conversion reactors.

10) The ship can fly faster-than-light. The currently approved concept is the Alcubierre warp drive, so ship must be equipped with two or more large "hyper rings". Look for the default SE ships called "Explorer-1", "Explorer-2", "Doctor Ship" for reference.

11) The Mother Space Ship cannot land on planets. Instead it carries various shuttles, specially designed to fly from space down to planets with atmospheres or airless worlds. Besides shuttles, there are also some repair, cargo and harvesting vessels.

12) There are special vessels with a ram-scoop for collecting hydrogen from atmospheres of gas giants (hydrogen is the propellant for the main engines). Though it is possible to place a ram-scoop behind a meteoric shield. The shield opens up as a bud and puts forward a ram-scoop. Another way to resupply the main ship is by using collector boats for harvesting, for grabbing ice formed comets or icy moons, etc.

13) There are no limitations on the number of polygons for the models, due to development of technology of adaptive and/or procedural detailization of the ship and its parts. In the beginning, it will be possible to make each part of the ship's model with an independent set of LOD's. The ship would be built with several replaceable modules - engine, reactor, cargo etc. So this shall provide a good system of upgrade for the ship later.

Ships with Alcubierre warp drive:











A few old sketches (discussions from Russian forum):

SHW - 2





SHW - 3





SHW - module ship







Romario-3D





*





 
NeonDate: Sunday, 19.06.2011, 22:45 | Message # 2
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Very odd sounding ship... an Office??? Another question, why does it
need to be so big? No view screens? You mean we will lose this beautiful
views of travelling through space?

The tech of the ship is fine, but it does sound a very odd idea for a spaceship,
that of an office. Will it have a bridge??? I hope it's not going to look like
the ship in Noctis. That was just a room, with a cupola on the roof.

I'd hate to lose this beautiful view of moving through space.

I understand what you said about the meteor shield, but do you
think it's worth going that way if we lose the view? Wouldn't
shields be better?

Don't mean to sound negative, I'm just a bit confused.
 
SpaceEngineerDate: Sunday, 19.06.2011, 23:38 | Message # 3
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Quote (Neon)
Another question, why does it need to be so big? No view screens?


Because it is the Mothership:

The mother ship will carry on-board shuttles, and it will have an in-built plant where new shuttles, modules and other devices can be manufactured.

Quote (Neon)
Will it have a bridge???


Quote (Neon)
I'd hate to lose this beautiful view of moving through space.


Read carefully:

Quote (SpaceEngineer)
At the center of the bridge is the control center where everything is managed, with its panoramic displays, armchairs, diamagnetic jacks of inertia and other such things


Of course this spaceship will have no windows, except the observation decks and small shuttle-crafts and repair bots. There are holographic displays in the control room of the Mother Space-ship. Holographic means that they are similar to window: you can walk up to a display and see the parallax effect. But it is not a true window, due to the location of the control room deep inside the spaceship, it is behind thick armor. The deck is not like in Star Wars, there the control bridge has huge thick glass windows that sticks out high above the ship's hull. One hit - and the Empires' Star Destroyer is deprived of a Captain:) Window-like displays are simple to implement in the game's graphics engine, using a "portal" technology (in the indoor-enviroment engine, portal is a polygon that lead renderer to another part of a scene).

In addition to holographic screens I think about the "virtual reality helmet" or "neuro-interface", which gives the player the ability to control a ship in first person mode, without an image of a cockpit that obscures your view. I.e. like it is currently with the SpaceEngine interface. Some players like this mode in SE, some prefer cockpits. This is a compromise! smile A player can walk to another ship and have the ability to immediately switch to another ship control mode, wherever he is on his ship: The hemlet or neuro-chip is always connected to the ship's main computer.

*





 
ThursDate: Monday, 20.06.2011, 00:05 | Message # 4
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I like this idea. Will you be able to design the ship? Will it be procedurally generated? It would be awesome to slowly upgrade and expand your mothership as you explore and build more.
 
SpaceEngineerDate: Monday, 20.06.2011, 10:08 | Message # 5
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I think I will make separate modules for the ship model. That will give players the ability to upgrade ships with each new release of the game.

But if I make generation of alien civilizations, then procedural generation of ships will be necessary.

*





 
NeonDate: Monday, 20.06.2011, 17:38 | Message # 6
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Remember way back in the gemini program... where the rocket had
no manual control and no windows, and the crew went on strike
until they were added. smile Now all ships have window & ability to
have manual control.

View screen is ok. Star wars had force fields rather than glass windows,
as did Star Trek. But I can live with a view screen ala enterprise.

Really disappointed there'll be no cockpit. sad

Aliens are a must I think
 
PandurDate: Monday, 20.06.2011, 19:12 | Message # 7
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I am really impressed! Your mothership concept sounds absolutely fantastic.
I hoped for something like this.
To have an own gigantic spaceship, walking on its decks, looking through the windows or inspecting
the bridge would be really awesome!

At the end that seems to be a really well-thought concept.
I also like the idea having shuttles onboard, as well as the possibility to create and design own ships after collecting the needed
resources. That's what I wanted to hear! smile

Space combat is ok. I always forget that large-scaled universe. It's really impossible to have close-up fights with a speed up to 10.000 km/s.
I could imagine it would be possible with a slower "emergency drive", that is only activated while in combat mode (cause main energy is
directed into sensors, weapons and shields, for example). But I easily can live with your realistic version.

And I agree, alien races are absolutely nessessary! Space would be very empty without.

Thanks for sharing that info! Now it's even harder for me waiting for the release! biggrin
 
TzionDate: Monday, 20.06.2011, 19:31 | Message # 8
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So is there a possibility of being able to play the game as different crew members? Like navigator, engineer, security, etc?
 
SpaceEngineerDate: Wednesday, 13.07.2011, 01:01 | Message # 9
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I have started working on the spaceship. In parallel I will make conceptual mothership model in 3ds max.

*





 
RobbieDate: Wednesday, 13.07.2011, 08:27 | Message # 10
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A picture paints a thousands words. smile

I would be content to have seen some basic hand drawings first on your proposed concept at this stage. I too, don't quite get the 'skyscaper' idea for the space-ship. Perhaps it will become clearer when I finally see the 3ds model.





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SpaceEngineerDate: Wednesday, 13.07.2011, 13:30 | Message # 11
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From top to bottom: Shield, 3 habitation and cargo modules, reactor, 2 hyper-pressure hydrogen tanks, 2 engines. The heat radiators, observatory and refueling system are missing here in model.

*

Attachments: 0348133.jpg(92Kb)





 
ThursDate: Thursday, 14.07.2011, 03:11 | Message # 12
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Looks excellent, and quite realistic. I like the ship designs in game likes EVE but the design you posted above seems more like how they would actually be designed in real life.
 
RobbieDate: Thursday, 14.07.2011, 10:12 | Message # 13
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Looks nice. Just like a modern spaceship would be built today. Believable and realistic.




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TzionDate: Friday, 15.07.2011, 21:24 | Message # 14
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Reminds me of the Orion Project ship design.

Project Orion


Edited by Tzion - Friday, 15.07.2011, 21:26
 
curiousepicDate: Sunday, 11.12.2011, 06:54 | Message # 15
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SpaceEngineer, I think you should think a little more thoroughly about the implications of the technology in the game. If we’re serious about realism, even disregarding the FTL drive, we run into some contradictions and short-sighted extrapolation (notes follow). On the other hand, if we’re somewhere softer on the spectrum without straying too far from the hard end, I would urge that the exceptions be made only for enhancing gameplay (suggestions follow). There is a vast, complex membrane between the “possibility spaces” of technological realism and gameplay. I’ve been exploring it myself for many years, at least conceptually.

Keep in mind these notes are not all suggestions for additions to the game, they are what I think would be implied by availability of various technologies SpaceEngineer have mentioned. There are some suggestions for mitigating/incorporating these implications.

Mature Nanotech would imply some very strange ship design, far from the "plausible-mid-future" style presented so far
* Nanotech metamaterials means any surface or component could have any or multiple functions; ship may look like a sphere with a variety of shifting textures, some parts become shield material, some radiator, some particle accelerators, some EM field manipulators, some beamed-energy recievers, some propulsive
-----* Actually, in some respects this could be really suitable for the existing engine, as if your ship were its own dynamic planet
* Ships would be *completely* customizable, ala spore or galciv (which is a route I don’t think we want to go down)
* Ship could just be a nano-swarm
* Shuttles and smaller craft would be purpose-built on the spot (or mothership should have the integrity and ability to land on the surface)
* With nanotech, the player would probably be posthuman, adapted to vacuum and radiation, or simply uploaded as an AI
* Any other weird thing one can think of

A suggested replacement for nanotech would be micro-scale fabricators
* More advanced tech requires zero gravity
* Mothership has to either cease acceleration during construction, or construct or deploy freefloating fab modules, which take a while to construct the product, then you can come pick it back up

Zero Point Energy sounds just as implausible as the FTL drive.
* Coupled with advanced nanotech and a strong AI, this would probably result in extinction (actually any two of the major Tech combined would imply a Singularity, but since we want a world that we will recognize as our own, let's sidestep that, shall we? smile )

A suggested replacement for zero point energy would be massive EM-field energy-harvesting tethers and beamed energy
* Adds a base-layer for resource gathering and “building” gameplay; if you wish to make an interstellar jump away from a previously unexplored system, you must build up infrastructure there
-----* Gather resources in-situ
-----* Deploy tethers in orbit around a planet (or star) with a strong magnetic field
-----* Gather comets as heat sinks for the huge lasers
* Would be trivial with nano, but still possible with non-nano fabricators
* Makes jumping to a new world less trivial, (hopefully) without adding boredom but instead increasing gameplay depth
* Even if this didn’t replace ZPE, I think it would be very fun, strategic instrastructure construction gameplay; placing laser relay stations, ensuring things get constant power at range when the laser sources are in constant movement, etc, somewhat similar to this flash game.
* But the jumps require immense power which can’t be beamed to the ship *during* a jump
-----*Batteries big enough?
-----* An alternate suggestion would be to give ZPE a restriction or side-effect, similar to conservation of momentum with the FTL drive
-----* Perhaps it is actually integrated with the FTL drive and can only be used for that purpose

Diamagnetic inertial compensation implies advanced manipulation of EM fields, which could be used for plenty other things in addition; ramscoops, magsails, field-entrapped particle radiators, room-temp superconductors (which opens up technologies that I haven’t even looked into)

A cometary ice shield generates interesting gameplay; finding a suitable size (or lasing down a larger) icy body to grapple to after your current one runs out. I couldn't follow your translated response to SHW's original design.

How do we deal with intense gravity from running the engines >1G?
* Fluid immersion?
* Transhuman modifications?
* Diamagnetic inertial compensation?
* Suspended animation during high thrust? (timescale prohibitive)
* Do we need a rotating ring if we have one of the above? It is a nice visual element... could auto-extend from the ship while at rest.

How many people are aboard? How big is the crew? Passengers? How does the ship’s population tie into gameplay?

About modularity (which is a fun gameplay element I’m in favor of): Even without nanotech, this level of technology would imply that modularity may not look familiar to us. We’re used to an external machine “retrofitting” a new module bought from some starport, swapping it out with another module along a central truss or something like that. The SE ship, given resources and its own fabricators, should be able to “mutate”, for lack of a better term. The ship should be self-sufficient, and its design should reflect that fact.

In any case, even without ZPE or Nanotech, as much as I love SHW’s design (If you hadn’t figured, I’ve been reading the Russian mothership thread via Google translate - at one point I think it translated “mothership” as “ship-to-uterus”!) and other realistic designs like it (including my own designs in that style), at this point in the future, I think we can assume that ship design will have advanced a bit past the truss-and-tank designs. Since this is the case, you’d have a bit more artistic freedom, and I would propose that the design should be a bit more “iconic”, with the same spirit that Rodenberry went for with the Enterprise, minus the “you’re doing it wrong” deck orientation and asymmetry (here's a fun redesign I did). The visual design of the game (which of course is limited to the tech design... well, and the interface, but that’s another thread) should complement the gameplay; a relatively peaceful, serene, stately atmosphere. The player is not exploring these worlds in order to exploit/exterminate them. We’re exploring them to explore them (and possibly expand to them). The ship should invoke a feeling not of “industrial power”, but more “post-scarcity zen”. If we want to keep the higher level tech, I think integrating advanced EM field manipulation with the design could help a lot. It would also give us a really unique visual element that fits with this more transcendant aesthetic; aurora-like flares rippling amongst the invisible field lines extending from the ship for hundreds kilometers, interacting with other magnetic fields or nebula gasses. The design might also or instead center around the FTL drive itself.

Furthermore, I'd think that at this point in future history there'd be an optimal ship design. Instead of designing a bunch of different ships to upgrade and sell/buy (there shouldn't really be a material economy at this point either), I think you should focus on creating a really strong (both visually/conceptually, and literally) mothership. And in place of upgrading or modularity, I'd suggest focusing on unique, interesting gameplay, such as the infrastructure construction and managing beamed energy I described above. In a way, the game might have a more arcadey or puzzle-game feel, but that would be the result of applying so many realistic future technologies to the game world, and I think it would be a good fit for the more serene, exploratory style, anyhow.

But, at the end of the day, I can only celebrate that I've found a project that at last takes realistic spacecraft design seriously! I can't comprehend how, out of so, so many space sims, there isn't one that approaches something like realism. Not even something as simple as mass symmetry!





My ideal preferences for visual design of the mothership and technology in SE
Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality


Edited by curiousepic - Sunday, 11.12.2011, 07:23
 
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