For the past week or so I’ve been working bit by bit to get encounters in. The Starflight remake is made up of several “locations” in the space flight scene that the player can enter and leave. They are currently “docking bay”, “just launched”, “star system”, “in orbit”, “hyperspace”, and now the new one “encounter”. Last night I was able to get the remake to the point where the player can enter and leave encounters at will, from either a star system or hyperspace.
My first stab at the encounter location was simply to have the player and ships in the scene. But I noticed a problem when I added the automatic camera dolly system. The auto-dolly system moves the camera back and forth to make make sure that all of the alien ships are visible in the screen. With this system running, the player no longer has any plane of reference to get a feel for where they are in the scene. To make things worse, the dust particle system had the particles going in and out of the camera (instead of parallel to the camera) because of the auto-dolly… and the rotating skybox did not help things. Put it all together, the movement of things in the encounter location did not make sense and quickly made the player queasy.
So, I decided to add a grid in the view to help ground the player. I think it works. The grid also shows a boundary ring that the player can cross to exit the location. In the original game, this boundary shifted depending on how far away you were from the alien ships and debris. I’m not sure if I like that.
Currently, the only alien ships that have a ship model to display are the Mechans. All other alien ship will appear as a placeholder pill thingy. I think the next step is communications with the alien beings! Here is a video of the work done so far with encounters.