Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
Hello to everyone.

There are lots of threads about this, and I'm shure the Devs have their own ideas about this, but as I felt creative, I thought of making my own tryout at finding a workaround the technollogy issues which are preventing us from fighting from within our bridges.

Apparently the problems are as follows:
Technical issues
1) - When in space, you aren't really inside your ship, but have become the ship itself, so, you can't have both the character and the bridge moving at the same time (You can't walk around the bridge while your ship moves, because either you are flying your ship or you are walking around your bridge)
2) - When in Space, you are in an instance in which the map is the space, and when in your bridge you are in another instance consisting in your bridge map. Having a real interactive bridge with a working viewscreen would mean loading two full interactive maps / instances at the same time, thus doubling the engine work.
3) - Your ship isn't modelled to scale with your character. They actually are the same size. So, you can't have both things on the same instance at once together and in scale, because that would mean remaking everything to scale.

Playability issues
- The view would be confussing: Basicly, looking away from inside your ship is a problem when trying to fight and flight propperly. You wouldn't have an appropiate perspective of where you are moving to and where you are looking at at the same time.

This is the idea I've come up with.

Regarding the technical issues, it is clear to me that the bridge would actually have to be "faked". In-mission interactive "walkaroundable" bridges simply make no sense within the current game mechanics. In this game, when in space, you control you ship, not your officers. Certain game from the past had you controlling the game through orders to your officers, and then, their IA did the work the best it could, but here it is you doing everything. You simply wouldn't be humanly able to control your ship and your character moving around at the same time.
This means that the whole "Look around me sitting in my chair to look at my crewmen pushing buttons" simply makes no sense. You wouldn't have the time to do so.
BUT, there is a more important missing thing in not having a "fighting from my bridge" option, and it is inmersion. I'm sure there has to be a working way to implement that.

Well. I think that a simple alternative interface could do just that, simply by adding a "camera control" to the hudd and placing some camera places into the actual ship model. the only remaining problem would be the fact that the ship models aren't supposed to be looked at from so close, but this could be solved if there was a way to blur only our own ship's model. YEt, I don't see the real problem with the current ship models. I love zooming a lot and taking pictures of my hulls from very close to use as wallpapers on my fullhd screen, and they look great.

PART ONE, the probably doable:
My idea of a workaround consists in a flat 2d animated screenshot of your bridge. This seems to be hardly a silly sollution, but the point in it isn't the "I'm looking at my viewscreen" thing. It is how to play from there instead.

Two "half sphere" pathways are placed on the ship's model. One on the top of the ship, and the other on its belly, and a new "Viewscreen control" function is added to the existing interface. This VC window has two modes; Free view and target view, which are triggered with buttons (And may even not be needed at all, as this can be configured already to work the way each one wants through the control options).
On free view, you can freely move your camera as ussual, or click the quadrant of your camera pathways you want to look (Although I suspect this wouldn't be needed at all), and in follow target, the camera works as the current one, but moving trhough the half sphere pathways.

That allows a practical "1st person" view from the ship, which lets you see your ship as well (The disk when looking at the front, your nacelles when looking back) and jumps from the top to the bottom half sphere with your POV, while keeping the current playability intact (The only problem right now in combat when you zoom the camera too much onto yourself is the fact that your ship gets in the way). A bit of camera shaking adds much more inmersion to it, and a little 2d shaking on the viewscreen frame and overlayed 2D smoke and sparks add the rest of the smoke and mirror trick.

To avoid incontollable jump between the top and bottom views, both camera pathways overlay a bit, so that the change happens when there's too much of your ship's hull in the way like in this example:

This means that you don't actually get to the "Bridge combat" view from you bridge's map, but simply zooming into your ship instead when in combat / space maps, which takes out the whole "loading maps" problem. The only diference is that your 2D animated viewscreen image comes into play with the viewscreen control window.

Adding the bridge viewscreen frame is a way to visually warn the player that there'll be "camera jumps" when he is looking up or down and, although seems a cheap silly trick, actually adds lots of inmersion.

Also, the minimap is telling you where you are looking at in relation to where you are moving to, and your ship itself is telling you how high or low you are tilting the camera.

And that's it. Mainly a new camera mode when you zoom too much and a 2d image which shakes and moves a bit, and suddenly we have our bridge combat view. I'd love to know what you think of it.

PS: PART TOO, the dream:
All the "no playability" problem is regarding missions and combat. Sector space is a diferent beast, mainly because you can tell your "crew" to plot a course to where you want to go. I strongly think that it is important to find a way to implement real "sector space" and bridge map interaction, through playing the game interface and sector flight into the screen of the bridge map, allowing to jump to ship mode by clicking the screen, but this would actually allow for real 3d bridges in combat as well.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
12-20-2010, 01:53 AM
/agreed sounds very thought out and possible
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
12-20-2010, 08:14 AM
Some old pics from May/June. All of them in-game with not Photoshop editing:

It works and I prefer that over the current way of working. It is fun, it is usable, there is nothing wrong with it. In chase mode it works like a simulator,as it looks forward all the time. In free mode your have complete, panoramic view.
I use my touchscreen control app to create the bridge overlay. It can do a lot of funny things, like animations and actual control of the game. I tried to mod an existing overlay texture in game to achieve the effect without the extra app, but the texture was patched out of the game.
The main problem is that it is somewhat difficult to lock the camera inside your ship. You need to hit a blocking entity (asteroid, debris, station, shoebox wall...) head on, then rotate the camera around until it enters your ship, finally lock it with a console command. And you have to do it after every map change, it gets tedeous.

People have been asking devs to allow us to enter our own character for a year now. That feature was in the game but was pulled sometime during the development. So it is a design decision, not an engine, tech or devtime limitation.

To allow bridge travel the dead simple way, the devs would need to allow multi boxing with certain limitations. You would need to log twice. One is the main game, one is the bridge/inside ship only. If you are in space you can use the bridge client to alt tab to the bridge and back to the ship view. When you are not a ship on the main game, the bridge client would show a black screen only. Problem is this would be an immerse resource hog.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
12-20-2010, 08:21 AM
Love the bridge photos! I wish Cryptic would get on it!

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