Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Building ye Olde Ship

There's a game I really want to get cracking on.

It's like having the tools to make awesome things but ... not having the time and mental energy to actually do it.

What's the game ? It's called From The Depths and my interest has sparked due to seeing the creations of one Enter Elysium (youtube guy, check him out at the link, I find him entertaining). Here's one of the ships (from the FTD site) :
Looks rather spectacular doesn't it ? If a bit crude but ... gameplay should beat graphics. If the core gameplay is good, you can always excuse crude graphics. Developers of major titles should take note !

I think part of the appeal is me liking to put things together, combined with liking to see machines do their thing with elegance and efficiency. Big explosions help too. Have a peek at some of the EE videos, there are some very satisfying explosions in there as AI battleships go Boom.

That's one thing about this game. It looks darn spectacular when the things are going boom. But it's AI. I'll pull up a few real life ship pictures in a bit and ... I really hope we never have to see them do their thing because, you know, sailors on board, I know a few of them and kinda like them. If they go somewhere dangerous, I'd like to see them come back. We should have confidence in the ships we send our people out in but ... hopefully they won't have anyone shooting at them !

Real ships ? Real stuff is always handy for figuring out what to build in games like this. Yep. Even stuff like Minecraft. You can get inspiration for form fit and function from all things. Even geese like in those Klingon battlecruisers. Yep. I see what you did there Mr Star Trek ship designer. Or gulls maybe, they're definitely birds of prey when it comes to attempting to eat pasties near the sea side.
That's the American Zumwalt class destroyer, the most modern warship in the world at the moment. It's probably the closest in look to how a From The Depths ship would end up looking like, with all flat sides (because that's what's easiest to make in the game). You wouldn't need that big superstructure in the middle though. There's reasons for that (and on the Type 45 below) which don't apply to the FTD ships.
That's Britain's latest warship. Glorious isn't it ? Especially with that Dragon on her bow. May it be there for a long time.

Yep. Again with the big tall construction so they can see out a bit further. The FTD ships don't need those. They don't need the accommodation or crew support space either because, you know, AI. Just a few blocks will do. (This is part of what I find daunting about the game, putting those AI in and setting them up).

Guns ? Pointy Things ?

At the moment, real life ships typically have stuff on like many defensive missiles, a few offensive missiles, big guns, medium guns, little guns. Whatever fits the need. Maybe we'll see railguns and lasers coming in sometime. And there will be magazines to feed that. That's a problem actually :
She is HMS HOOD, (picture from HMS HOOD association website) who sadly did not survive an engagement with the Bismarck. A fairly lucky hit caused an explosion that transmitted to the magazine, blowing off the back end of the ship. Only 3 crew survived out of 1418.

And now you see why, while I find the Boom and explosions spectacular, I want to see it restricted to Game Space and not Real Space. Reading books like Red Storm Rising (Tom Clancy) and HMS ULYSSES (Alastair McLean) are rather too good in their description of the destruction that can be wrought in war.

Game stuff ?

What would I look to design for my FTD ships ? The fun stuff involves :

Railguns - sound great, not too great in game.
Guns of all sizes - of varying effectiveness. They make things have holes, which is a Very Good Thing in games like this.
Missiles - look pretty and go boom. Also good for knocking down enemy missiles.
Lasers - kinda like toothpicks but effective over time.
CRAM Cannon - oh my. The EE and Aavak playthrough involves a CRAM cannon that fires 2m shells. Yep. Boom.

And you need to put on a hull (duh), AI blocks, generator engines, thrusters, propellers, helifans, hydrofoils and balloons so there's somewhere to put the guns. Oh - shields too. Shields can be pretty.

But that general hullform ? I think I'd avoid the monohull shapes of the Zumwalt, the Type 45 and pretty much every other warship out there. Nah.
That's RV Triton, a ship built by the Brits as a demonstrator for the trimaran hull form.  You know catamarans like the channel ferries ? Whereas a catamaran has 2 hulls, a trimaran has 3, a big long thin one in the middle and two short ones either side. It's supposed to allow faster speeds and more efficiency. But there's also a reason why it hasn't been used for warships (any ships !), where do you put everything.

Saying that though, the Americans have been trying with :
That's USS Independence, which is still a trimaran but instead of the outrigger hulls being in the middle, they are drawn back. All that space up top is used for a humongous flight deck.

Again, not something useful for a FTD ship, although the bigger ships in there will be aircraft carriers too (the AI is very dodgy with those).

My Dragon class ? Trimaran with the outriggers being the wings. The ammo and generators go in the centre, where they are protected by all that hull. Missiles can be on the outriggers, to take advantage of that long and thin outer hull. Cover the forward hull in smaller conventional guns. And aft ... a massive CRAM cannon overlooking the whole ship.
Something bigger than that big gun perhaps. Yep. You can make some very silly guns in this game.

I do feel though that a Dragon ship would have fire coming out of the bow. Perhaps that's where the lasers go ? Or torpedoes. But yeah it's :

Want to put those ideas into some kind of form that can be shown off. Like the Lego/Nanoblocks!
Wanting to beat the game (and it is a rough, tough, very difficult one);
Needing to learn the tools provided;
Watching everything (probably not) do what was intended;
Seeing the Boom happen.
And having other games and real life stuff* drawing the attention too !
*(like more thoughts for a real life barge to live on - definitely a monohull!)

But that would be boom in the game and not in real life. Because games have a save and reload option, we can't do that in real life with people.

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