Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Design docs discussion of the implementation of certain features
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nozmajner
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Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by nozmajner »

We were talking about a possible scanner equipment on IRC. One, which would put some more things to do in the hands of the player, porviding an instrument to find things. Main inspiration came from Limit Theory of course. :)
A quick mockup:
Image.

from IRC:

Code: Select all

impaktor: Hmm, and of course there would be the constant wave length of cosmic background radiation.
(9:15:35 PM) impaktor: Well, 2.7 K, right?
(9:15:59 PM) impaktor: Anyway, question is then how to use the freq-scanner.
(9:16:18 PM) impaktor: Like have a "match" button and "save" button.
(9:16:24 PM) impaktor: for freq profile
(9:16:33 PM) nozmajner: match? like you could snapshot stuff and superimpose?
(9:17:27 PM) nozmajner: I'd also put in a shortcut for marking directions, if you are scanning the sky, and see some interesting readings, you could mark it, there would be an indicator icon for that direction, and you could come back later to double check
(9:17:41 PM) nozmajner: or to triangulate, if it's close enough
(9:18:03 PM) impaktor: nozmajner: yeah, you could see how much the profile matches a ship, or pulsar, or whatever.
(9:18:12 PM) impaktor: ...that you've saved before.
(9:20:33 PM) nozmajner: you could even buy data maybe?
(9:20:49 PM) nozmajner: pattern for a derelict ship worth salvaging for example
(9:22:33 PM) nozmajner: also, that large dotted circle is the scanner cone. My thinking is that you could first do a wider search, avaraging what's in that cone, and you could "zoom in" if there's something interesting
(9:22:54 PM) nozmajner: and scanner types could have different cone limits for example
(9:24:22 PM) impaktor: oo, derelict ship. Me like.
(9:24:51 PM) nozmajner: also could be useful for finding SAR targets
(9:25:25 PM) nozmajner: like "it's las't known position was here, and it's transponder is off. Likely scanner pattern: xxx"
(9:27:31 PM) ecraven: impaktor: well, all the more reason to have that scanner (*with* the background radiation of course!
(9:28:06 PM) ecraven: well, is it an active or a passive scanner?
(9:28:17 PM) ecraven: a derelict ship probably wouldn't show up on passive
(9:28:32 PM) nozmajner: ecraven: I'd say passive
(9:28:45 PM) ecraven: could be both, and you can switch
(9:28:58 PM) nozmajner: but you could have an active one that would do a ping that would visible on this passive one once the ping reached the thing
(9:29:30 PM) ecraven: good point, so you can send out a certain range and get back an echo (over that range)
(9:29:31 PM) nozmajner: I'd imagine active sensors would do their signal processing too, not just putting out the raw readout
(9:30:17 PM) ecraven: well, maybe people shouldn't be forced to use the scanner all the time, it might just be "better" than the automatic scanner
(9:30:37 PM) ecraven: so you only see major planets, but if you scan for something, it gets added to the list of "known" things

(9:30:48 PM) ecraven: we'll probably need an actual conceptual document for this :D

(9:34:27 PM) impaktor: Or SOS is sent on a specific channel.
(9:34:44 PM) impaktor: frequency profile: - - - . . . - - -
So just to start that conceptual document (will edit based on discussion):

A scanner equipment and it's UI for discovering stuff.
How it could work:
  • It would show the electromagnetic spectrum, with a histogram display, showing the received energy on each range of hz.
  • Each object would have a distinct radiation output pattern. A star would wash out most of the scanner for example, but a spaceship would most likely radiate mostly on infrared, especially while burning the engines. Radio broadcasts and active scanner pings could also show up.
  • The strength of the signal could depend on the energy output and distance. (inverse square law)
  • The player could use specific "pings" then capture the reflections. But that could also give away his location.
  • The scanner could have minimum and maximum viewcone, and would show the average data from that cone. Some models could provide zoom capabilities, and even turreted/omni-directional FOV, so the ship would not necessarily need to point in the direction it's scanning(headlook).
  • Could also provide audio feedback, transforming the full range to and audible range of sounds.
Possible gameplay:
  • Finding hidden stuff: derelict ships, dropped cargo, hidden bases, undiscovered planetary bodies (exploration).
  • Finding hiding ships. Assassination, bounty hunting or piracy targets for example.
  • Finding ships in trouble (SAR). "Our Venturestar haven't reported in. Here's the last known location, and the scanner pattern for it. Go find!"
  • Picking up ongoing battles.
  • Stealth gameplay later down the road if we decide we want to. (Yes, there's no stealth in space, but that's assuming good equipment and lots of time. Short term stealth could happen I think, like running cold to hide from Don Carnage and his ragtag band of pirates sporting 200 years old equipment, until you can go for a burn that they can't intercept.)
Technical things i can guess:
  • Light lag might be useful to be handled. At least for active sensor pings and such.
  • Would need to store/generate data for things. Like an array of frequencies and their strength in ship.lua files. It would be useful to have separate data for engines too at least. Same could go for reflection patterns (for active scanner pings for example)

    Discuss :)
impaktor
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by impaktor »

Sweet. I was thinking that our conversation needed to be saved.

First post over in Other space games: Limit Theory is highly relevant as reference.
clausimu
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by clausimu »

Really great ideas! It would put "searching" back into the "Search & Rescue" missions. I like the "save a specific pattern on the scanner" part.
FluffyFreak
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by FluffyFreak »

I like
darekdeo
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by darekdeo »

I really like the idea and mockup image. Extending it just a little bit:

Reminds me of something similar I've read about couple days ago: https://dev.arma3.com/post/oprep-sensor-overhaul

In short, there are passive and active sensors. When being passive you read less data, but you are at the same time less visible to others. When you enable sensor you can see more, but at the same time your position is easier to reveal too. There is risk and decision what to use.
kennworl
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by kennworl »

Is there light lag in Pioneer? You can see ship positions on the orbital map, but theoretically those positions should be minutes or hours old.

That, plus range limits on scanners (resolution and sensitivity), should make tracking ships very difficult. Good luck for the bounty hunters out there finding fugitives that shouldn't be actively transmitting IFF or any signals at all on a wide beam.

There probably needs to be some kind of FTL sensor (gravitic over sub-space or witchspace) that indicates object position, size, and limited info on movement. Something that will allow you to find a blip to check out. Stealth could then be used to mask that signature. Hiding next to a space body would do it, maybe. Combine that with EM absorption and emission control tech, and you have strategies for hide and seek. Just an idea.
nozmajner
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by nozmajner »

No light lag as of now.
Being able to see all ships real time isn't intended in my opinion, and yes there should be a range to the sensors. There's a soft limit right now in master, but that's just the UI hiding ships further a certain distance.

I think we still should not have FTL sensors (or comms for that matter, and if you have one, then you can make the other anyway). The less handwavium, the better in my opinion.
And you can still have stealth I think, especially on long ranges. Sure each ship could be picked out as far as Pluto, but sensors on civilian ships I think won't be that good, so they would rely on the transponders, and maybe in civilized system the STC could broadcast the position of every known ship.
So a scoundrel would have to risk alerting the police/military to it's presence and ill motives by turning off the transponder. But they might have enough time to pull of a deed and jump away before the authorities catch up. Depending on the traffic in the system, they might fly under the radar for quite a while, but they could alert the cops right away. Stuff, like turning off the transponder behind a planet or when you are close to a bunch of ships might make your chances better in the same manner. (this would assume dice rollings, or having actual sensors placed in the systems I guess)
Which would make piracy real risky for the player too, as it should be.
kennworl
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Re: Scanner equipment (interactive) - design

Post by kennworl »

Yes, you might be right about FTL abilities. It would change the dynamic of the game. I might implement something as another experiment, but that wouldn't make it into the main build.

There is a novel by Ian Douglas called Earth Strike which has the most amazing desciptions of space battles with realistic physics. No FTL star trekky stuff other than copious use of nanotech. Both capital ship and fighter combat in space. Check it out for ideas.
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