Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
I've been pondering this for a long time, had this idea a while ago and now that Cryptic has more tightly integrated starship interiors with the DOff system, I figured now was an ideal time to put this suggestion forward.

For a while now there has been discussion about unified sector space. Putting aside the technical hurdles which seem to be making it very difficult/almost impossible to pursue... I'm not sure it's the right approach for making sector travel feel meaningful. As beautiful as it has been made and as much energy as Cryptic invested in improving its aesthetic, there is almost nothing to do in sector space except travel from one locale to another.

I believe that sector space should be replaced entirely by starship interiors. Here's how I envision it would work:

Any situation that puts you in the sector map right now, sends you to your starship interior as your Captain avatar. All of the visuals and effects we already have in sector space can be repurposed, and instead of being visible in your ship avatar view, they are visible through your bridge viewscreen (which becomes an invisible wall instead of a static texture). My intuition and experience from the brief buggy period when interiors first came out tells me that the bridge interior (and each of the decks) are significantly displaced from one another in the instance, so space travel effects, I think, could be placed outside the bridge map without intersecting the other interior geometry.

While on your bridge, as captain of your ship, you get a button in your lower right similar to the ones you get in certain social zones or during the Defera event. Clicking on this will open the dialog prompt for navigation. I picture it having three options for choosing a destination: choosing a destination associated with a current mission in your journal, choosing a location from the list of major hubs in the game (Sol, Qo'nos, DS9, Drozana, etc.) or choosing a location from an organized list of possibilities (Sirius Block -> Vulcan Sector -> Sol). Once your course is set and you engage, reaching your destination is simply a matter of spending time in your interior while the timer runs down.

Choosing your speed/mode of travel has a couple of different options. I'm not sure it matters to give people any option to fly at less than max warp -- there's no reason I can think of off hand as to why it would be useful, so maybe once you engage your ship travels at the max speed appropriate for your rank and Driver Coil skill. Using Transwarp while you're in interior mode would cause a brief exterior effect (visible through viewscreen) then drop you right at your destination (using transwarp in social maps would just have the same effects they already have now, transporter or ship transwarp animation). Slipstream is a bit trickier... I'd actually prefer to see it have a duration as long as one trip from origin to destination at vastly increased speed, but having a much longer cooldown, but it could also be left exactly the way it is and just require you to engage it as you decide as your ship travels in "interior" mode.

Other sector space interactions can be preserved, but instead of, say, seeing a hostile ship warping around near your ship in sector space, you get a popup when your ship travels in range of a moving enemy, giving you the option of ordering your bridge crew to abandon warp travel and intercept. The Azura II and its Klingon equivalent is a bit trickier, but could still work the same way -- summoning them takes you out of warp and spawns them at your current travel coordinates.

Speaking of, the location of everyone's ship when traveling would not be represented by their map location in an instance, but would become purely a function of character data. When traveling between solar systems, as far as the game is concerned your avatar isn't moving (relative to your ship interior map) but the ship's galactic coordinates are stored in a separate database, or however it would work best under the hood. The game engine would just need to know how to change the visual effects outside the bridge, based on where the ship is relative to "landmarks" as it travels and its galactic coordinates change.

The chief advantage to this idea, I think, is that travel time is no longer wasted time. While your ship is in flight, you can make the rounds on your ship and take care of your DOff needs, and presumably this time could also be used for the ship interior minigames that have been hinted at. I also think it will increase the immersion factor of STO. Right now, the ship interior feels really disconnected from feeling like it is really inside your ship, and up until the recent DOff updates there wasn't even a functional reason to go inside. Meanwhile, as pretty as sector space is, it gets crowded with starships really quickly. It's vastly improved now from what it was when the game first opened, but it still doesn't feel all that big, visually, when you have a fleet of ships all crowded around DS9 on the sector map. (Crowding near the station once you warp in makes plenty of sense, but out in sector space it feels a bit jarring)

The biggest conceptual obstacle (as opposed to technical obstacles, which only the Dev team can really be privy too) I see is what happens to exploration clusters. I suppose the simplest solution would be to give them a singular location to fly to and park, and instead of the flying around finding anomalies, you simply poll at the location and either get an anomaly or an explore mission, as a purely dice roll type randomization. The Devs have hinted that they want to redesign how exploration works anyway, so maybe this isn't a problem (or maybe it's an even bigger obstacle, with whatever the Devs might be designing in their overhaul).

And that's the rundown of my idea for replacing sector space. I'd be sad to see sector space in its current form go, and I'd love it if as much of what is there were carried over into any new implementation (entering the nebulae, the Badlands and the Briar Patch are just breathtaking) but I do feel that a paradigm shift might be called for.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 2
05-08-2012, 05:05 PM
This idea has been around since the beginning of time, and due to limitations in the engine makes it impossible. Ship interiors and sector space are two completely different maps, and do not coexist. Think of your bridge as a ground map, and sector space as, well, a space map.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 3
05-08-2012, 06:44 PM
Did you actually read my post? I presented an idea that circumvents that limitation.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 4
05-08-2012, 08:14 PM
I think its a neat idea but i rarely spend time traveling through space as it is with going warp bajillion to just transwarping to wherever i need to. Prob be fun for the role players
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 5
05-09-2012, 07:31 AM
Oh it's easily possible. I suck at programing and even I was able to work out the basic logic. Cryptic doesn't want it, plain and simple.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 6
05-09-2012, 07:46 AM
I don't necessarily think so, OtakuboyT. I've actually found Cryptic to be much more receptive to player base feedback than other game companies I've interacted with, especially when it comes to MMOs. We know the Dev team isn't entirely happy with the nature of Sector Space as it stands, and that they do have an active game plan for improving the functionality of starship interiors. I'd be shocked if an idea like this wasn't even given passing consideration, considering it kills two birds with one stone and, while it would be a radical change, it doesn't require anything that the game engine doesn't already handle, in other forms.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 7
05-09-2012, 07:53 AM
Hmmm, i have thought about this a little myself . . espesially where you say that interstella travel isn't then wasted time since you'd be able to do your rounds on the ship. Perhaps a little like Bridge Commander back in the day ?

Although it's a nice idea . . i'd like to be able to flick between the two, sector space and internal while still moving . . even though i know nothing about programming, i would bet my right eye that this would be a hell of a task . . and may involve a lot of work.

If I'm honest though, i do like the way the game is already regarding sector space . . i like seeing my ship flying at warp . . having a look around to see what others are up too, setting my speed and piloting my ship from the external view . . . i think it works really well . . and to me feels right. . . plus i can set my speed to warp 5 and go outside for ciggie break . . lol

Perhaps with regards to the internals of the ship . . i'd like to see a bit more going on, and things you can do inside them . . i dunno, assign Boffs to stations you'd wanna see them on your bridge rather than random placment, Perhaps edit the text on the bridge plauque since it's empty at the mo . . . perhaps some mini games in a holodeck . . like that target practice game we see Worf and Guinan play in TNG . . perhaps this could be a trainning thing .. improving your phaser acc or something ?

I'm loving the game at the moment though, and look forward to what ever the Devs are cooking up next.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 8
05-09-2012, 08:44 AM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
I believe that sector space should be replaced entirely by starship interiors. Here's how I envision it would work:
As much as many people want to fly from their bridges, I have trouble envisioning a time where sector space would disappear entirely. It is too integral to how the game works at it's most basic level right now (and for the past two years). At best, we might add an alternate method of traversing space, but Sector space would likely persist.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
Any situation that puts you in the sector map right now, sends you to your starship interior as your Captain avatar. All of the visuals and effects we already have in sector space can be repurposed, and instead of being visible in your ship avatar view, they are visible through your bridge viewscreen (which becomes an invisible wall instead of a static texture). My intuition and experience from the brief buggy period when interiors first came out tells me that the bridge interior (and each of the decks) are significantly displaced from one another in the instance, so space travel effects, I think, could be placed outside the bridge map without intersecting the other interior geometry.
There are several issues at hand here.

First is scale. In space (even Sector Space), your Ship is roughly the size of you (your humanoid character). If we were to place your bridge in Sector space, and then plop your avatar in the captain's chair (instead of your ship), the sector space map would feel very tiny. It would feel like a scale model, and (assuming your bridge could move) your bridge would have to either move VERY slowly across the map (comicly so), OR the map would be entirely trivial to traverse, and then what's the point?

Second is movement. Bridges are a static thing. They are a map, like any ground map that you run around on. They cannot fly through space. So. . . even if we made the view screen an invisible wall, and put your bridge into a Sector map. . . it would just sit there. There is no way to make it fly around. YOU (and your ship) fly around because they are critters. They are entities, like NPCs, mobs, etc, and have been designed and built to move. Your bridge is not.

Hypothetically we could turn your bridge into one giant critter, which you can then move around through space, but then everything on that bridge would be locked down. There would be no getting up and walking to your ready room.

Alternately, you could argue that we should leave the bridge as a static object (so you can walk around within it again) and instead, move the map under you. This is the same boat as before, just flipped upside down and sinking now. Moving the entire map beneath you is something we have no way to do right now. While it's theoretically possible, I can't envision a way in which it wouldn't bring everyone's computers to their knees. Instead of making 1 big critter out of the bridge, now you're talking about making 1 humongous critter out of the entire map. Even if we got it to move, it would have lost all knowledge of what system is where, and how to let you enter those system maps from this new monstrosity.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
While on your bridge, as captain of your ship, you get a button in your lower right similar to the ones you get in certain social zones or during the Defera event. Clicking on this will open the dialog prompt for navigation. I picture it having three options for choosing a destination: choosing a destination associated with a current mission in your journal, choosing a location from the list of major hubs in the game (Sol, Qo'nos, DS9, Drozana, etc.) or choosing a location from an organized list of possibilities (Sirius Block -> Vulcan Sector -> Sol). Once your course is set and you engage, reaching your destination is simply a matter of spending time in your interior while the timer runs down.
So, given that my above reply is pretty much impossible from all angles, in this scenario, you'd leave your bridge as a static object, and simply wait on a timer. I've mentioned in previous threads on the topic, that this is much more feasible. Though I'm not sure what you're expecting to see through this now invisible wall that has replaced the view screen? In a realistic realm, it would just be an animation of stars flying by (standard warp effect) with no planets/systems showing out there at all.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
Choosing your speed/mode of travel has a couple of different options. I'm not sure it matters to give people any option to fly at less than max warp -- there's no reason I can think of off hand as to why it would be useful, so maybe once you engage your ship travels at the max speed appropriate for your rank and Driver Coil skill. Using Transwarp while you're in interior mode would cause a brief exterior effect (visible through viewscreen) then drop you right at your destination (using transwarp in social maps would just have the same effects they already have now, transporter or ship transwarp animation). Slipstream is a bit trickier... I'd actually prefer to see it have a duration as long as one trip from origin to destination at vastly increased speed, but having a much longer cooldown, but it could also be left exactly the way it is and just require you to engage it as you decide as your ship travels in "interior" mode.
Ok. I'm not sure what you expect to see when you "arrive at your destination"? If the viewscreen was transparent, and you could see stars whizzing by outside, and a transwarp effect, etc, are you expecting to see a planet when you arrive? Or the system? We can turn on and off FX, but I don't know how we'd be able to swap out hundreds of different planets based off of where your ship hypothetically is at the moment (remember, you are now in captain mode, and you EXIST on the bridge map. Your character is not AT whatever planet you have just arrived at)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
Other sector space interactions can be preserved, but instead of, say, seeing a hostile ship warping around near your ship in sector space, you get a popup when your ship travels in range of a moving enemy, giving you the option of ordering your bridge crew to abandon warp travel and intercept. The Azura II and its Klingon equivalent is a bit trickier, but could still work the same way -- summoning them takes you out of warp and spawns them at your current travel coordinates.
How would we know what you are "near?" Again, you exist on the bridge map now, your ship is nowhere. So there is no analog of you flying around sector space to determine what you are nearby. Travel is simply based on a timer at this point, and had no knowledge of what was between where you started, and where it will let you off when the timer is up. At best, these could be entirely random encounters (a reason I hate FF to this day)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
Speaking of, the location of everyone's ship when traveling would not be represented by their map location in an instance, but would become purely a function of character data. When traveling between solar systems, as far as the game is concerned your avatar isn't moving (relative to your ship interior map) but the ship's galactic coordinates are stored in a separate database, or however it would work best under the hood. The game engine would just need to know how to change the visual effects outside the bridge, based on where the ship is relative to "landmarks" as it travels and its galactic coordinates change.
And, suddenly we're back to a method where we have to keep track of you in two separate positions at once. Knowing your position in space is the issue. YOU are on the bridge. We know where you are, you're on a map, dressed in your humanoid outfit. Your ship exists nowhere. Having to keep track of you in two places is already one of the major hurdles to the initial suggestions on this topic of having your ship track around sector space in real time, while you are on your bridge. This solution was supposed to be based on a timer, which is reasonable as it doesn't require tracking multiple entities at once.

In addition, there is no current way to show other objects (systems, etc.) flying by you on your bridge, see above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pi-3Orionis
The chief advantage to this idea, I think, is that travel time is no longer wasted time. While your ship is in flight, you can make the rounds on your ship and take care of your DOff needs, and presumably this time could also be used for the ship interior minigames that have been hinted at. I also think it will increase the immersion factor of STO. Right now, the ship interior feels really disconnected from feeling like it is really inside your ship, and up until the recent DOff updates there wasn't even a functional reason to go inside. Meanwhile, as pretty as sector space is, it gets crowded with starships really quickly. It's vastly improved now from what it was when the game first opened, but it still doesn't feel all that big, visually, when you have a fleet of ships all crowded around DS9 on the sector map. (Crowding near the station once you warp in makes plenty of sense, but out in sector space it feels a bit jarring)
I agree, this concept overall is nice, and I would LOVE to find a way to make it work. I just haven't seen a viable method (within the tech constraints we have to work with) suggested yet.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 9
05-09-2012, 09:22 AM
Your best bet is to simply take some Star Trek action figures, set them up in front of your monitor, and now stand with your back to the wall, ie 20 feet away. That's what it would really look like if the minuscule canon viewscreen was used for the bridge.

While it would be cool, as an option, to allow sector space travel to continue while on the bridge (ideally with a dynamic image on the viewscreen, or a generic looped travel video, or just a static image), I don't really see it as ever happening. How would you interact with nearby ships? (for RP/DI?)

What is more likely to happen (in the sense that "really small chance" is larger than "no chance") would be to start a mission timer when you enter the bridge, and when that timer expires, you've "arrived", with a BOFF notifying you "Captain, we have arrived at (destination)." Still would require some major engine changes either way. It might be do-able by creating a micro-mission with the destination as the target, and once the timer expires in the bridge you're warped there.
Lt. Commander
Join Date: Dec 2007
Posts: 120
# 10
05-09-2012, 09:32 AM
Well we know that this is a no and have been told this will be a no many times no matter how much the community wants it. The devs prefer it this way, in the new terms it is not an effective ROI, and it would take a substantial redesign of some system (albeit they should have been designed that way in the first place.

Forgive me if I reiterate:
  • "Sector Space" would need to be redesigned as one BIG map so unique coordinates can be set. It could not exist with all the zoneing. That requires a complete overhaul. Yes, there should have been a big galactic map, a secondary sector map, and then system instances. STO lacks a layer of space.
  • STO does not support "portalized objects"

The later will never happen for all the additional points Tumoboy made. So we need to move past that.

If the former can be accomplished there can be a few animation tricks then. Space outside your ship becomes an animation of moving starts, you move on a timer, and when you approach a system you get the "zoom in animation" to that system ala SWTOR. When you leave, you get a "turn/warp out animation". Unfortunately these animations need to be seamless with no loading so they have to be pre-loaded. Yes I would love to travel and walk around my ship to do things while in the process, yes this "animation trick" can be used to simulate movement and could be used to revamp exploration (using the treadmill rather than the fishbowl). But I really do not see this happening ever in this game.
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