Star Trek: Armada III begins with the first stirrings of the Dominion War and allows players to take command of five unique factions, the United Federation of Planets, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, the Cardassian Union/Dominion Alliance, and the Borg Collective. Explore strange new worlds, seek out new life and new civilizations, and boldly go where no one has gone before.

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Report RSS The Final Frontier - Dev Diary 2

Dev Diary 2 on the progress made with Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier. In this dev diary, we will be talking about the expansion's extensive planetary framework.

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Message: Priority One
Starfleet Command Headquarters
Planetary Sciences Division

- Dev Diary 2 -



Starfleet Patch


Hello again everyone! Ambarenya back to give you another glimpse into the work being done on the Final Frontier expansion! In our first Dev Diary, Max expounded upon the details of creating planetary textures and atmospheres - certainly an important aspect of realizing the Final Frontier expansion, and something which he has done admirably, with great fidelity and attention to detail. However, today I will be talking a bit about an equally important aspect of the Final Frontier -- our planetary framework.

In summary, the sum of new Final Frontier items includes an extensive list of the following celestial objects and phenomena categories (numbers potentially subject to change):

  • Stars (32)
  • Planets & Moons (88)
  • Gravity Wells (180)
  • Nebulae (14)
  • Random Events (94)

Let us begin an exposition on the topic of stars. As a person with a background in astrophysics, it was important for me to take a look at the general representations of stellar bodies within both the Sins of a Solar Empire and the Star Trek universes, and develop a happy medium between real science and fiction for our mod. Some sources, such as the Star Trek: Star Charts, provide information regarding spectral and size classification of various stars, and so this was taken as the general guideline for star designation. From these varied sources, you will see the usual OBAFGKM spectral classes (yes, including brown dwarf spectral classes L, T, and Y), along with a good number of rare star types, and lots of other surprises. Each distinct star type will not only differ in visual representation, but will also impart certain gravity well effects based on the type of star that it is. Some stars may be potentially destructive or deadly, others helpful or of curiosity. Space is not always not forgiving – there are often natural dangers lurking in the starscape.

Nova-starBring up local star charts.


On planets. When I first began brainstorming for the Final Frontier, I decided that it was important to represent not only the planets in a macro sense, but also to simulate the various physical details about the planets as well. After all, is it not that planets within the Star Trek universe are defined not only on their size and composition, but also by their surface features and ecosystems (or lack thereof)?

This is why colonizable planetary bodies within the Final Frontier currently fall under two main categories, “planets” and “moons”. It was determined early on that due to the way that Sins of a Solar Empire represents planets, and also the way bodies are described in Star Trek lore, it would make most sense to simply categorize bodies in this way, as opposed to specifying a planet as a “Large” or “Small” type (keep in mind Star Trek planet classes typically fall under narrow size ranges anyways, so the visual differences are often negligible). Not only does this seem to me to be more immersive, but it also makes sense from a lore standpoint, where we often find these objects being differentiated with these terms. A “planet” in this case refers to a full-size body of a certain class based on its physical or environmental features. A “moon” does not necessarily refer to an orbital satellite in our game, but to a size class notably smaller than that of a planet. For example, a Class A ‘Geothermal’, one of the standard classes in the game, can appear in The Final Frontier as both a Class A ‘Geothermal’ Planet or a Class A ‘Geothermal’ Moon, with the moon naturally being of a smaller visual size and possessing fewer resources or capability for expansion.

ClassKIt's a place...where no one has gone before.


The system as designed is 'smart' in that it does not provide a 1-1 lineup of planets to moons – some planets, based on their structure or size, cannot be found as moons. For example, you would never see a Class J ‘Gas Giant’ Moon. Asteroids fall under a specific category that does allow certain types to appear as moons (based on what we observe in reality or in Trek lore), but again not all. Naturally (as the ‘string master’) to avoid awkward phrasing, be rest assured you will also not see something like “Class D ‘Planetoid’ Moon”. All terminology in Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier makes sense both lore and science-wise.

The size and naming of planets is not the only thing that has changed, either. Revamping our old planetary system, each planet’s stats are now defined by a very complex set of parameters that include over 20 definition points, ranging from basic physical features such as average mass and radius, to more complex and abstract ones, such as magnetic field strength, availability of potable water, and ecosystem biodiversity. All of these parameters define, in an immersive way, tangible in-game features of the planet, such as the amount of resource asteroids it supports, its population, etc. Of major importance is the Planetary Habitability Index, which defines (using all 20 definition points, on a scale of 0 to 1), the ease with which a planet may be adapted for humanoid colonization. Some planets, such as Class K ‘Adaptable’s possess a relatively modest habitability index of 0.5 – suitable for colonization with pressure domes, whereas Class M ‘Homeworld’s have a habitability index approaching 1.00 – ideal for humanoid life. The habitability index helps to define a number of important colony parameters, in particular, the maximum population of the planet (which also takes into account factors such as surface area, possible settlement size, and surface typology) and as well as its Colonization Class [which will not change from A Call to Arms, still being Class 0 (instantly colonizable) – Class V (extensive adaptation)].

TMPWe've done our bit for king and country.


Lastly, it should be mentioned that some planet classes will have multiple “subtypes” that possess similar physical characteristics to the base class, but may differ slightly in composition or environmental features. Class M’s will have the widest variety of subtypes; Asteroids/Planetoids, Gas Giants, and many others too you may find have several variants as well. It is hoped that virtually any kind of planet seen in Star Trek can be realized using this Class + variant system, providing a highly varied and immersive Armada III experience. This does not, however, preclude the existence of a number of "uniques" corresponding to the most important planets in the Star Trek universe. New planets will also receive new textures and new textures and models for resource asteroids. And you can be rest assured that planets will draw from a vast pool of new immersive planetary bonuses too! There will be much more to come on this front in the future.

Nebulae and gravity wells, too, will receive a major revamp. Currently, we are planning on expanding nebula types to include all of the original Armada nebulae (in addition to the existing ones), as well as a few new ones too inspired by real-world astronomy. Each of these new nebula types will have appropriate graphics and effects. In a subsequent dev diary, we will go over the details of the wide variety of new gravity wells (including nebulae) that will be entering the Armada III universe.

tutorialAdversity breeds innovation.


There are many other aspects besides planets and gravity wells that are being worked on as of late, one of the most recent accomplishments has been (through a great deal of testing and effort) the inclusion of in-game tutorials featuring the units and factions of Star Trek: Armada III. We hope that this will help new players to gain a grasp of how to play our mod in a fun and immersive way. We have not ironed out all of the bugs yet, but we will continue testing/updating the tutorial strings to ensure an optimal experience.

This concludes our second dev diary. Stay tuned for further updates in the near future!

This is Ambarenya, signing out.

Comments
darkbob5
darkbob5

Remember when we were explorers?

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armoredlightdragon
armoredlightdragon

do i spy gravitate wells that are flat like they all are now?

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themasterrez
themasterrez

Wow. thats a lot of work man i dont even want to know how much planning this will take. Could events effect the habitability of planets? like heavy bombardment would damage the ecosystem adding a debuff to population? or is that too far outside the abilities of the engine? Also whats the class with the connie and the Hutzel?

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Ambarenya Author
Ambarenya

> Could events effect the habitability of planets? like heavy bombardment would damage the ecosystem adding a debuff to population? or is that too far outside the abilities of the engine?

Pretty sure this is possible. Not sure if it will be implemented.

> Also whats the class with the connie and the Hutzel?

Constant-class destroyer (police ship by this time). It's based off of the USS Jupp which appears in the DS9 Technical Manual, and, according to Doug Drexler, in the "deep background" of DS9 "A Time to Stand".

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jonsin1459
jonsin1459

Boner!

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Zed32
Zed32

This all looks like its going to add so much to the immersion factor, no two planets should ever be completely the same statistically so the more variety that can be crammed in the better :) One question I do have is do you guys plan on updating the skyboxes at all? Playing in 4K with a 40" screen and its the one thing that looks slightly low resolution at present in comparison to the utterly gorgeous unit & structure models....

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Starfish1
Starfish1

This is really fantastic, and I appreciate the real world science element you're building into the process. It will be exciting to warp to a neighbouring world to see what's there, and see something you've never seen before.

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Astartes_Marine
Astartes_Marine

Do I spy more TMP styled ships in the form of what look like destroyer/frigate types flanking the Connie? Aw man you're all killing me making me long for a TMP Era sins mod. Really makes me wish I had the time and patience so I could do it myself.

I really am liking what I'm hearing about the new planet systems. Will there be anything like the additional planet bonuses similar to those found in E4X/Interregnum for further variety?

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Jack_Hunter
Jack_Hunter

Yes, it really seems to be a new ship class and that hurts me once more when I'm mindful of the cancellation of Axanar: Strategic Operations, never to see/play these beautiful TOS/TMP era ships. Damn, what a shame!

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Astartes_Marine
Astartes_Marine

Well if I understood correctly Axanar wasn't going to go to the TMP era, just TOS as the classic Constitution was to be the Titan.

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Jack_Hunter
Jack_Hunter

I know Axanar plays in the time before the Original Series during the 4-Years-War, but I meant in general these time periode I miss and we unfortunately won't see because of the cancellation of the Axanar mod. So no Kelvin, Geronimo, Korolev, Yorktown or the D-6. :-(

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Astartes_Marine
Astartes_Marine

To my knowledge the Armada 3 team never trashed the mod/assets, just shelved them. If the case goes well for the Axanar team I think it's very possible the A3 team might resume work.

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Jack_Hunter
Jack_Hunter

I hope so, I really hope so. I love what I saw of this mod!

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Ambarenya Author
Ambarenya

Exactly right, the assets were not trashed, just retired.

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Ambarenya Author
Ambarenya

> Do I spy more TMP styled ships in the form of what look like destroyer/frigate types flanking the Connie?

Constant-class destroyers (relegated to police ships by this time). They're based on the "basically canon" USS Jupp, which, according to Doug Drexler, appears in the "deep background" of DS9 "A Time to Stand".

> Will there be anything like the additional planet bonuses similar to those found in E4X/Interregnum for further variety?

E4X will seem like child's play compared to The Final Frontier's list of planetary bonuses.

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Jumps244
Jumps244

Man, you guys are really going above and beyond. You've certainly got my vote for MOTY this time around.

It's too bad Star Trek (really sci-fi in general) isn't the hip thing anymore. Despite valiant efforts, just seems like space shows or games aren't really able to take off like they used to. Damn millennials.

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Naimit
Naimit

I am so ridiculously excited by this project. If I had any computer savvy at all, I would jump into your band like a fat kid cannonballing into a pool. That said, I so wish we could somehow port over all of the wonderful things about STAIII into a new software system - one not bound by SoaSE's design limits. In that, the goals of your project could really flourish: a potentially huge, varied galaxy with dozens of neutral civs and a genuine exploration experience.

I also wish we could re-map the basic structure, so that each star would have a host of planets (rather like now, but with a reasonable limit on the habitable bodies in a single star system), only these stars would exist within a populated grouping with dozens or even hundreds of stars, each with their own peculiarities.

Sigh. I need to win an obscenely large lottery and then hire fellow enthusiasts / software pros to engineer a brand new, non-official, probably totally illegal, not-for-profit Star Trek game. I have ideas! My favorite being Star Trek: Genesis or some such, with each player starting as a given civilization at the very beginning of warp travel. Think STAIII blended with the all time great Civ II.

Each player would then guide their nascent faction throughout the years, encountering neighboring and the more distant species, developing ever more capable starships, and then eventually encountering fellow players with their own canon (or non! that could be fun, too) Star Trek factions. Imagine the young Kilngon Empire encountering the very young Borg Collective, right next door to the early Dominion. Each neighboring civ would then influence the others in all sorts of ways: via diplomacy, economic growth and possible co-dependence or dominance, technologically (as tech transfers through time/distance), militarily (eg Romulans developing cloak tech, requiring their neighbors to invest in anti-cloak tech), and culturally (not only through influence zones, but an authentic back and forth - militaristic civs being gentled by finding themselves next door to peace loving, persuasive neighbors, or the opposite happening, or a civ that cherishes individual freedoms being forced to adopt a more centralist mentality as they have to compete with their hive mind neighbors),

The main thing would be the choices the player would have to make: should I compromise my civ's idealism or maybe have my militaristic peoples embrace co-existence - all in response to local political realities. If you played as the Federation, it's possible by game end that your Feds would look more like the mirror universe idea of same, or that your Borg Collective would go around rendering disaster relief assistance out of the goodness of their combined hearts.

Er. Which is to say that your project sounds wonderful. I just wish we could see it unleashed in a game engine that would really let you go WILD.

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Ambarenya Author
Ambarenya

Sounds a lot like Gal Civs.

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Guest
Guest

Hey guys,

I just wanted to bring up a lag issue that I thought you may want to look into if it would help others run the game better. So I run this mod with a pretty high end computer, but even in the large battles I tend to lag pretty harshly. I figured out however that this was not a graphics issue but a sound issue. If you turn sound effects completely off, the game's performance improves dramatically. So I wanted to know if you guys could look at seeing if there is a way to reduce the file size on the sound bits (phaser fire, photons, etc..). If so, it may help users and the overall mod run better. If it's not possible, well I tried. Thanks again for a great mod!

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OrionSlaver Creator
OrionSlaver

Noted. Cheers.

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Adseria
Adseria

"All terminology in Star Trek: Armada III - The Final Frontier makes sense both lore and science-wise."

You are one brave man/woman/unisex creature. I'm not sure I would have been willing to say something that definite. There are a lot of people out there who like to prove this sort of thing wrong, after all...

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