Thursday, September 8, 2011

Some Crude Planets And Some Cruder Math

Well, these aren't going necessarily going to catapult me into a sweet Art Director position anywhere, but they're good enough for Solar Trucker, says I. That wraps up the art section of this sprint (heh) unless I lose all remaining common sense and decide to implement that animated dotted line thing I was thinking about last night while I was falling asleep. That would truly be foolhardy. I have found as a rule of thumb I tend to resist a problem when I realize I'll have to create a test bed for it. I even have templates, it's not a pain at all, but something about it is not as much fun as hacking away at the main game, however fruitlessly.

I decided early on to try and make the game conform at least in the loosest possible manner to the actual distances between planets, so that players could do things like weigh the differences between a milk run to Venus for peanuts and a long, asteroid-fraught haul to Jupiter with a big paycheck at the end. I'm now wondering how much I should fudge the numbers.

For instance, if I decide that my basic Earth - Mars run (48.6 million miles) will be the gold standard of the amount of distance the player should cover over a "standard" arcade game level, let's say about two to three minutes. That seems like about as long as anyone would want to plink at asteroids before seeing another screen. So let's say if there were no obstacles, you could point the ship at Mars and dock in exactly two minutes. Seems reasonable. That's a basic speed of 24.3 million miles an hour.

If we want to keep everything roughly in scale, we'll have to plot the other trips with that top speed in mind. See where I'm going with this? The Earth-Jupiter run at top speed would take just about sixteen minutes, which is a Long Time to spend plinking asteroids, even with salvage and aliens and whatever else.

So, make the meta-game less "accurate" or make the core game more interesting. Time, Distance and Speed . . .

Edit: bonus old school dev tools screenshot

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