I finally managed to get a flight model working and am busy plugging in all the stats for the different ships. It's working exactly as expected. Fighters run rings around any ship, dreadnoughts plough through frigates like they aren't there, capital ships are helpless when caught in Earth's gravity. With mid-sized ships I've been experimenting with re-entry angles and with some if you put them into a shallow dive they pick up enough velocity to escape orbit when you pull up. Or if you're really skilful you can balance a battlecruiser on the top of a pin by pointing the ship vertically upwards and using its main engines to hover whilst your turrets lock on. However some battleships and larger vessels are proving a bit too slow for human control. In some it would take 10 minutes of holding down a button before you could visually confirm the command was received. The issue is that all my stats are based on "off-the-shelf" ships, but in reality it's expected that anyone who has the skill level to operate a battleship or dreadnought has multiple additional skills that add bonuses to the ship's manoeuvrability. The same goes with some of the larger turrets so I will be tweaking the values for them prior to release.
You can also see the animations are functioning well. At the moment the turret movements are a proof-of-concept. In the final game each turret will need to alter its pitch slightly using an A* based algorithm so that all projectiles converge on the same point. The video demonstrates that I can select groups of turrets at will and orient them in whatever direction I please. It's been 5 months since I started this project and 4 months since I made it public. Here's an overall view of progress:
Well on their way to being completed
- Flight models
Only exist on paper
- Particle effects, engine trails, etc
- Game framework, e.g. win/lose conditions
There are some "blue sky" objectives as well, such as custom shaders to help recreate the look of EVE Online. With flight models making progress I can also start working on AI. My template for AI behaviour is that of Freespace 2. For me that had a very nice balance of small ships being able to go near big ones without being instantly killed, capital ships being able to engage multiple targets, missiles being intercepted, strike bombers being escorted, the threshold at which enemy fighters gave up pursuing you, etc. And fortunately for me all of the code functions are open-source.