What is the deal with starlanes?

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Obi-Wan Kenobi
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#61 Post by Obi-Wan Kenobi » Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:02 am

emrys wrote:Anybody feel like writing a little bot or code thingy that just scans a thread and locks it as soon as it counts ten uses of the word starlane?


Oh sheez.... :?

May I boldly interject here.

So....... I take it that ""everything"" regarding star lanes and choke points that could possibly be spoken is already spoken? The paradigm cannot progress and improve?

I do realize that the star lane model is already in stone for FO. I’ve also read Aquitaine’s remark in this thread about looking at it again later, at a more appropriate time. In the mean time, what is the crime in “brainstorming” with new ideas???

If a site member’s suggestion or comment is less desirable to whomever, for whatever reason, then it can be graciously ignored, as opposed to vitiating their comments, perhaps injuring their creative ego. But with such posturing by key people here at "Free" Orion, then the "free expression of ideas" here will suffer on every other topic. People will become afraid to express new valuable ideas. :wink:

I was about ready to post my own 4 page discussion with my *new*, undiscussed ideas regarding choke points. But now I worry about receiving a similar basting. Maybe my hours of deep thought and writing on the subject -- the effort to come up with real solutions for the genre’s cause, is now wasted.

I believe that the evolution and improvement of choke points in 4X space games has growing yet to occur -- as every other aspect of 4X space gaming. The current paradigm is never perfect. In fact, that is why “star lanes” were even invented, to find a way to make a better War AI.

There will always be ideas expressed that are less comfortable to those whose view on a topic has become static. But they don’t have to be afraid that there preference, for example “star lanes,” will be removed from the game. Different methods for creating choke points can be devised, and co-exist with the option of star lanes, in a game without removing a someone’s pet feature as an option.

If limited bandwidth here is causing a mode of suppressing new posts and ideas, then I’ll make a contribution to help alleviate that. Everyone who expects to enjoy “Free” Orion should consider donating at some time or another, because its not really “free” in the sense that everyone who contributes with programming, design, funds, or hours of deep thought to overcome an AI problem, has made a sacrifice for others.

And let me say that I'm very impressed in several ways with the work that has been done, and the professionalism I do see. You all deserve a whole lot of praise and credit. :D

I think I'm an "extreme" 4X space game buff. I soooooo look forward to seeing the next generation 4X space game -- finally!!! come about. I've waited so long, and followed and participated in other games that have not been a complete success.

I clearly see that the team has a terrific thing going here.

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Geoff the Medio
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#62 Post by Geoff the Medio » Tue Dec 07, 2004 7:30 am

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:So....... I take it that ""everything"" regarding star lanes and choke points that could possibly be spoken is already spoken? The paradigm cannot progress and improve?
This is not my interpretation of the situation.

AFAIK, all that's set in stone is that:
:arrow: There will be starlanes
:arrow: Starlanes are the only "standard" way to travel, aside from wormholes and possibly events (though the latter is undecided). There is no "offroad" travel.
:arrow: All starlanes have the same "speed"

I believe there are still issues regarding:
:arrow: Whether starlanes are always visible (exploration might reveal them, or advancing tech)
:arrow: The map generation code... I wrote the latest version, but it's by no mean perfect. There's probly some issues dealing with error cases in the Delauney triangulation code (eg. 3 stars in a line), and it doesn't treat all situations well (eg. sparsely connected vs. very well connected... currently it looks much better in well connected, as some system will end up with connects to almost all nearby systems in either case, which looks fine if most systems have lots of lanes, but is very out of place if most have three or less)
:arrow: Subtler aspects of lane generation might also be tweakable, such as your stuff about chokepoints.

If your stuff also has to do with AI, then that's a separate issue that wouldn't really fall under a (nonexistant) starlane discussion ban.

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#63 Post by emrys » Tue Dec 07, 2004 10:27 am

Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
emrys wrote:Anybody feel like writing a little bot or code thingy that just scans a thread and locks it as soon as it counts ten uses of the word starlane?


<Inappropriate Snip and out-of-contextification....>

But with such posturing by key people here at "Free" Orion, then the "free expression of ideas" here will suffer on every other topic. People will become afraid to express new valuable ideas. :wink:
NOTE TO SELF: I must remember to put some kind of smiley or sarcasm marker in (nearly all) my posts when posting in international forums...

Small note to self: 'Key people', either he's talking about someone else (most probable), or Aquitaines wildly gregarious and generous nature has got us into trouble again and given people the impression I do something productive around here...

(must stop myself posting in threads that should be allowed to die gently... :wink: )

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#64 Post by solartrix » Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:36 pm

Geoff, is is possible to set up a galaxy where each star is connected to all other stars within X distance (via star lanes, of course)? This might sound crazy, but there's a method to my madness here...

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#65 Post by Aquitaine » Tue Dec 07, 2004 5:39 pm

This thread isn't locked, so post away to your heart's content. We don't suppress chatter. But here are the facts:

- 'A more appropriate time' is probably unlikely to occur before 2008.

- This forum is for brainstorming things that haven't been decided yet. That said, we're not going to stop you from brainstorming things we've already decided, but that's not why this forum is here. The 'Free' in FreeOrion is not meant to symbolize 'freedom for everybody to come and say what they want on our dime,' even if that does go on and we sometimes enjoy a nice round of it ourselves. This forum is provided for undirected contribution to the project. In order for the brainstorming threads to come anywhere close to this standard (and believe me, it hangs on by a bare thread sometimes), we discourage people from littering it with ideas that cannot possibly be implemented or even seriously considered in the forseeable future, no matter how good they are. Plenty of people would love to have rousing discussions about things we've already done, but really, I'd much rather that be conducted somewhere other than our forums. If you want to donate money or a hosting provider to us, we will, of course, be grateful and credit you appropriately, but that doesn't change the fact that this forum is does not exist to talk about anything and everything, but that we usually don't intercede because, frankly, we have better things to do. :)

But most importantly, despite this caveat that it's not really what this forum exists for, you are entirely welcome to post your four pages. If you see me get involved in one of these threads as I have here, it's because somebody has taken the attitude of 'WTF why is it this way?!?! why can't it be that way?' either publicly or via email to myself or Tyreth or one of the other FO developers. Because a lot of people will assume that, if there is a huge discussion going on about something, it's for some productive reason. :)
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#66 Post by Ablaze » Tue Dec 07, 2004 8:16 pm

I believe that all you have to do is explain them correctly and starlanes will make perfect sense.

I can come up with a technology to explain practically any game effect, so here is the technology I would use to explain both the existence of starlanes and the occasional longer lanes (wormholes):

LBR Drive:

-Overview
The Light Beam Resonance drive can create a temporary wormhole between two stars.

-Background
A careful study of the quantum nature of light has revealed a most useful phenomenon. Apparently, when two sources of light are pointed directly at each other, a resonance wave is created which can create tiny wormholes along the length of the light beam if the resonance is correct. The LBR drive is designed to capture and enlarge one of those wormholes long enough for your ship to pass through.
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#67 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Dec 08, 2004 1:54 am

solartrix wrote:Geoff, is is possible to set up a galaxy where each star is connected to all other stars within X distance (via star lanes, of course)? This might sound crazy, but there's a method to my madness here...
Doesn't sound especially crazy... sounds quite reasonable, whether you want to hide all the lanes and do some funky non-traditional starlane stuff to make chokepoints or somesuch, or treat them as they are now. The code (and interface) currently isn't set up to do this, but it wouldn't be difficult to write.

However, based on the thread where it was discussed, and trying it myself, I ended up agreeing with others who felt that lanes crossing eachother was unattractive / confusing... which is partly why Delauney triangulation was used (it doesn't have crossovers)
Ablaze wrote: A careful study of the quantum nature of light has revealed a most useful phenomenon. Apparently, when two sources of light are pointed directly at each other, a resonance wave is created which can create tiny wormholes along the length of the light beam if the resonance is correct. The LBR drive is designed to capture and enlarge one of those wormholes long enough for your ship to pass through.
I'd avoid "Apparently" or "A careful study" in descriptions of the physics behind a tech... sounds a bit too... hokey / amateur / silly. And generally, if you want to make up a new physics effect, I'd suggest doing so by inventing a new particle (see Star Trek for naming ideas), rather than something as well known as light / photons. Your example inspires a reaction of "uh... no" from me. Consider the diffraction of light... from interstellar distances, even the most focused laser would seem like a cone of light, not a line... And how are these wormholes formed? Just shining a light where you want to go and back from where you want to go to where you are? Are these networks of lights already set up everywhere, or do you have to make them? If the latter, why can't I make a wormhole to go anywhere I want, be it a nearby star, or open space, or a far-off star (starlanes are predeploy...). If the lanes exists due to a previous civilization's leaving the machines that make them in place, can these machines be destroyed...? Are they visible? Can they be turned? What does it even mean to point two "sources" of light at eachother? According to general relativity, space is curved... so what qualifies as "directly" at eachother is somewhat unclear... And light would take years to travel interstellar distances, so if you're turning these things on / off, do you have to wait years before you can finish your trip...? That's not a very good FTL drive if you have to wait for light to propegate first... And the basic premise is a bit hard to accept... pointing light sources at eachother makes wormholes? I'm not well acquianted with cutting-edge quantum physics, but that strikes me as a bit implausible...

So... yeah. We can make up sciency explanation for just about any in-game mechanic, but I'd like them to be reasonable sounding... :? :wink:

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#68 Post by Ablaze » Wed Dec 08, 2004 6:52 am

If you don't like certain words then feel free to edit them out in your head. I worded it like a new discovery. I'm not married to the specific wording by any means, I didn't spend long writing or proofreading that description.

Most of your questions are not applicable:

Lasers are not involved.

This is a natural phenomenon.

In the case of intersystem travel the two sources of light are the suns of the two systems. When the light from one sun moves in the exact opposite direction as the light from another sun over the same "spot" in space-time and when the resonance is right tiny wormholes are created. These wormholes all have exits somewhere along the line of the opposing light rays.

Star lanes are not visible to the naked eye, in their natural state the wormholes are quantum sized.. an LBR drive is required to enlarge them.
Last edited by Ablaze on Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:13 am, edited 1 time in total.
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#69 Post by solartrix » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:07 am

Geoff the Medio wrote:
solartrix wrote:Geoff, is is possible to set up a galaxy where each star is connected to all other stars within X distance (via star lanes, of course)? This might sound crazy, but there's a method to my madness here...
Doesn't sound especially crazy... sounds quite reasonable, whether you want to hide all the lanes and do some funky non-traditional starlane stuff to make chokepoints or somesuch, or treat them as they are now. The code (and interface) currently isn't set up to do this, but it wouldn't be difficult to write.

However, based on the thread where it was discussed, and trying it myself, I ended up agreeing with others who felt that lanes crossing eachother was unattractive / confusing... which is partly why Delauney triangulation was used (it doesn't have crossovers)
Very cool. Now follow me thru on this... If we could do this AND make the starlanes invisible to the player, THEN I think we've just created a system where ships can only jump from star A to star B. All we have to do next is create a range function (ie, ships can only jump X distance with Y rangetech) and I think we've created a system of very naturual chokepoints for the game.

As an empire of star systems, you'd end up with a group of "frontier" systems within range of certain enemy stars - ie, their "frontier" systems. Any invasion force would have to be launched from one of these frontier systems, creating a kind of front that would have to be monitored (you could monitor via spys, but that's a whole other discussion) and defended against, but it would prevent a player from launching an invasion fleet from some rear system. You could even have real chokepoint systems if the star density was low enough in certain parts of the galaxy.

I think this could make for some interesting / difficult strategic decisions and would make the strategic part of the game a lot of fun.

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#70 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:20 am

Ablaze wrote:If you don't like certain words then feel free to edit them out in your head. I worded it like a new discovery. I'm not married to the specific wording by any means.
I'm concerned more about the general style and technical plausibility of the descriptions that this one specifically, which I assume was meant to be an example.
Most of your questions are meaningless:

Lasers are not involved.
I referred to lasers as an example of a light source that (in many cases) produces "beams" of light. The point was that even if it looks like a straight line beam over short distances, the light will likely diffract so that it looks and spreads like a cone over interstellar distances.
This is a natural phenomenon.

In the case of intersystem travel the two sources of light are the suns of the two systems. When the light from one sun moves in the exact opposite direction as the light from another sun over the same "spot" in space-time and when the resonance is right tiny wormholes are created.
Perhaps your use of "beam" was as in the rays of ray-tracing sense, rather than the directed, (nearly) fixed diameter coherent beam of a laser. (Suns don't produce laser-like beams generally...) So I assumed the beams you referred to were artifically produced...

I'd still be happier if you used mysterious particle #5 though... Wormholes have some basis in the bent space of general relativity, and while I've not taken any GR, I'm skeptical that light from two suns moving in opposite directions would be sufficient to create them (wormholes). If you attribute the effect to verterons or tachyons or antichronitrons though, I can't complain.

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#71 Post by skdiw » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:20 am

solartrix wrote:
Geoff the Medio wrote:
solartrix wrote:Geoff, is is possible to set up a galaxy where each star is connected to all other stars within X distance (via star lanes, of course)? This might sound crazy, but there's a method to my madness here...
Doesn't sound especially crazy... sounds quite reasonable, whether you want to hide all the lanes and do some funky non-traditional starlane stuff to make chokepoints or somesuch, or treat them as they are now. The code (and interface) currently isn't set up to do this, but it wouldn't be difficult to write.

However, based on the thread where it was discussed, and trying it myself, I ended up agreeing with others who felt that lanes crossing eachother was unattractive / confusing... which is partly why Delauney triangulation was used (it doesn't have crossovers)
Very cool. Now follow me thru on this... If we could do this AND make the starlanes invisible to the player, THEN I think we've just created a system where ships can only jump from star A to star B. All we have to do next is create a range function (ie, ships can only jump X distance with Y rangetech) and I think we've created a system of very naturual chokepoints for the game.

As an empire of star systems, you'd end up with a group of "frontier" systems within range of certain enemy stars - ie, their "frontier" systems. Any invasion force would have to be launched from one of these frontier systems, creating a kind of front that would have to be monitored (you could monitor via spys, but that's a whole other discussion) and defended against, but it would prevent a player from launching an invasion fleet from some rear system. You could even have real chokepoint systems if the star density was low enough in certain parts of the galaxy.

I think this could make for some interesting / difficult strategic decisions and would make the strategic part of the game a lot of fun.
A big viable strategy should allow you to raid the supporting star systems without tackling frontier systems.



Hey Geoff, is the list of stars a static list or can you add interstices during the game or invisible interstices during star generation? 8) Because I think this will solve all the complaints people have about starlanes if they can generate interstices and attach attributes other than star systems. This platform should allow enough flexibility for modders to play with the game mechanic to get what they want while maintain original FO plan.
:mrgreen:

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#72 Post by Geoff the Medio » Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:08 am

solartrix wrote:Very cool. Now follow me thru on this... If we could do this AND make the starlanes invisible to the player, THEN I think we've just created a system where ships can only jump from star A to star B. All we have to do next is create a range function (ie, ships can only jump X distance with Y rangetech) and I think we've created a system of very naturual chokepoints for the game.
Yes, I read what you were writing about that on page 3 of this thread: viewtopic.php?p=16839#16839

My reaction:

I'm not fond of hiding starlanes. They should be visible so the player can tell where they are without unnecessary point and click trail and error.

I don't see why you want to connect all stars within X distance... AND have a distance limit on ships. The latter makes the former redundant... which is getting a bit too close to having lanes connecting all systems, which many people equate to not having lanes at all... so you might have some trouble there.
As an empire of star systems, you'd end up with a group of "frontier" systems within range of certain enemy stars - ie, their "frontier" systems. Any invasion force would have to be launched from one of these frontier systems, creating a kind of front that would have to be monitored (you could monitor via spys, but that's a whole other discussion) and defended against...
I also doubt that the frontier you speak of is really in line with the intended chokepoints system. A two or three system deep border area doesn't really sound like a few chokepoints. I suspect you'll have objections on AI grounds with this.
skdiw wrote:A big viable strategy should allow you to raid the supporting star systems without tackling frontier systems.
I think that's exactly what Aq wants to avoid. If you can "raid" supporting star systems, you can also fly your big invasion fleet past the frontier systems and attack the main body of an empire, avoiding any chokepoints.
Hey Geoff, is the list of stars a static list or can you add interstices during the game or invisible interstices during star generation?
I'm not sure if it is or would be possible to add new lanes... I don't see why it shouldn't be, but there's some internal data processing going on that I didn't deal with. tzlaine could comment as the technical issues... At the very least, it's possible to save a game, edit the save file manually, and load it up with new lanes... though whether it will be possible to do this in game with effects or whatnot, I'm not sure. Aq may have said this was decided against on design grounds, as well.

There was some brainstorming discussion about making lanes visible / not, as a separate concept from actually adding / removing lanes... though in that case, the lanes were preplaced, and just "discovered" by players during the game. However, this was discussed within the context of all the lanes that are "really" there, visible or not, being generally somewhat less than a locally sparsely connected graph... not lanes to all systems within X distance that are uncovered or not in order to skirt around the planned chokepoints system...

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#73 Post by Bastian-Bux » Wed Dec 08, 2004 8:15 am

OK, lets bring examples:

Anyone remembers Traveller New Era? They have a jump drive, that depending on tech level could jump between 1-6 parsec (=systems).

That was nice to establish traderoutes and such. BUT: frontiers where nightmares. Each frontier had to be at least 5 systems deep, else a high tech ship would just jump over them.

Try to tell an AI how to defend such a "frontier". ^^
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#74 Post by Daveybaby » Wed Dec 08, 2004 9:36 am

@Solartrix : FreeOrion is open source, which means that, as long as you have the inclination, the time, and the ability (or can find someone else who has), you can take the source code and change it to your hearts content.

So, if you wanted, you could take the source code, change it to remove starlanes, recompile, and voila. You could do that now with the current source code if you wanted.

You'll have to bear in mind though, that the starlanes/no starlanes thing affects a lot more than just whether a ship can get from system X to system Y or not. e.g.:

:arrow: Tech tree - you will want different ship engine techs (i.e. range becomes an issue)
:arrow: Ship design and balancing - the range issue and how it is implemented in engine techs could affect how ships are designed.
:arrow: Pathfinding AI - a completely different algorithm is required.
:arrow: Strategic AI - this is the big one - if your enemy AI isnt capable of defending its borders adequately, and of taking advantage of weaknesses in your defences, then you dont have much of a game.
:arrow: Economics, trade etc - assuming these are based on borders, distances etc.
:arrow: The entire balance between offense and defence, since in a starlane based game, you would tend to need fewer well protected (chokepoint) worlds, i.e. how effective is a mobile fleet compared to fixed defences for a given cost/time to produce.

When you start to consider the above points (and there are plenty more as well) you can start to understand why a solid decision had to be made either to have starlanes only, or no starlanes at all, but definitely not both.

The best advice on this issue is : if you really want a 'no starlanes' version of FO - wait for v1.0, and then wait a bit longer for a modified version to appear - cos somebody is bound to produce one, based on the number of times this topic comes up.


[edit] - oh, one more thing : re the 'lots of invisble starlanes connected to all of the stars within X light years' idea. Yes this is technically possible, but you might as well just change the code to do the job properly, and anyway, ALL of the above issues would still apply just as much.
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#75 Post by solartrix » Wed Dec 08, 2004 4:10 pm

Geoff the Medio wrote:
I don't see why you want to connect all stars within X distance... AND have a distance limit on ships. The latter makes the former redundant... which is getting a bit too close to having lanes connecting all systems, which many people equate to not having lanes at all... so you might have some trouble there.
Exactly. :twisted:

@Davebaby et al, thanks for your feedback on this. I'm trying to get set up to be able to tweak and re-compile the source code. I think all the issues you brought up are valid, but I also think they can be addressed. We'll see what happens....

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