Two more stations

Today brings two more space stations, the “Missing Sector” drydock and the “Jumping Spider” starbase.

Missing Sector

Named after the Missing Sector Orb Web spider, the second drydock design of the game takes a ‘rib cage’ approach to illuminating the encased ship. It is designed to be stationary unlike False Widow on my last post, although both are about the same size.

Jumping Spider
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Named after the spider species of the same name, this is a test starbase that will be used for developing the needed scripts for later ones. Its far from a perfect model, but it will make a great placeholder for the time being! Its about 4 kilometres from top to bottle and can fit a fair amount of ships inside.

So, what are starbases?
Starbases are huge support facilities that function as unified command centres, repair and replenishment stations, cold storage, and staging areas. In size, they typically dwarf all starships, carry several thousand personnel, and the largest can even contain multiple starships inside! The game will make extensive use of starbases as major hubs and places for the Player to dock at.

I’m planning six unique types, starting with a further development of Jumping Spider as the largest type. The five others will vary in size and purpose. I’ll be showcasing some of them next week, so stay tuned!

 

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False Widow Drydock

The next addition to the game is a bigass space station.

The “False Widow” drydock.

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Drydock in orbit of Tholia III, with a Dew Drop-class explorer docked

A bit about drydocks
In reality, drydocks are huge basins that can be flooded to allow ships to dock, and then drained to expose the ship’s hull for repair work or painting. They can be also used to build ships in ‘dry’ conditions before being set afloat. Drydocks in the Star Trek universe serve the same purpose, but are based in space (no shit, I know). False Widow is the first of about four designs of Tholian drydocks to be created, which will serve as repair and replenishment stations for the player to dock in.

Common characteristics between all four drydock designs will be traditional Tholian principles (three hull ‘arms’), thrusters for orbit adjustment, and a large array of lighting. Each hull arm has one or two large illumination pads at the mid-section used to light up the docked ship, and a single smaller lighting pad at the absolute end used to help ships navigate in without colliding with the station. In Unity, the lighting effects for both types of pads are constructed with emissive material (absolute white, emission value of 1/no HDR because I don’t want it to be too blinding), point lighting to allow the effect to shine on the docked ship’s hull (absolute white, range of 4, intensity of 1), and post-processing bloom (determined by the game’s selected quality settings).

The False Widow
Whilst False Widow will share most of its design elements with future drydock designs, this one is unique in that it will have a fully functional Warp drive that allows it to travel to other solar systems to rebase itself. This means that you might see them pop up in solar systems adjacent to the sites of major ship battles where servicing ships close to the front lines is urgently needed. Current planned number of False Widows to be put into the game are about 10 operational , 20 for scenic purposes (they’ll look the same but are inoperable for the player since they already have an NPC ship in them), and a further 5 as damaged, destroyed or abandoned.

 

 

Some juicy specs:

  • Length: 850 metres to 1.1 kilometres (final scale TBD)
  • Mass: 1.7 to 2.5 million metric tonnes
  • Occupants: 1,200 (normal), 4,500 (wartime)
  • Maximum speed: Warp 6


And finally…

At this point in time, the design is still not fixed. The model has been imported only for lighting testing, collider testing, and so that the interaction scripts can be developed and tested. As with my last post, I’ll leave you with a quick video showcasing the drydock in perspective view.

 

It’s gonna be a big one!

So, “Tholian Simulator” (working title) is gonna be a big and a fairly ambitious project.

For starters, what is a ‘Tholian’?
Tholians are a species from Star Trek. They have only been seen on screen twice but are heavily featured in an episode of the MMORPG Star Trek Online. Despite their (IMO) under utilization in the canon Star Trek universe, I’ve been quite the Tholian fanboy for a while since they are really unique compared to most sci-fi aliens and with this project I hope to give them the creative ‘platform’ that does them justice! 😀

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Tholian pilot from Star Trek: Enterprise episode “In a Mirror, Darkly”


The game

It is gonna to be a cultural simulator. It will detail Tholian society in a way faithful to what little is known from their two on-screen appearances and STO, but will greatly expand on that. To that end, it might be different to the expectations others may have of the Tholians and will largely contradict non-canon Star Trek material (like novels and most other games). I consider this a way for me to be creative!

It will feature ground and space action. On the ground, you’ll be focused on doing your part for Tholian society, help explore strange new worlds, and ultimately work your way to the top of the Assembly! In space, you’ll be engaging in galactic politics and diplomacy and of course space combat!

Current stage of progress
Right now, the game still is being planned out before large-scale development – the lore, outline of the game, how things, etc etc. However, I’m already testing game concepts in Unity (my choice of engine for all this) as we speak. Base systems for ship operations, lighting paradigms, and custom shaders for enhanced visuals are all being developed right now.

First three ships
As part of the lore development, a number of ship designs have been lined up from canon/STO and some that were sketched out are modelled and implemented!

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From left to right; Dew Drop explorer, Black Lace freighter, and Funnel Web destroyer

Planned subspecies
In order to further flesh out Tholian society (and especially their homeworld), I’ve decided to plan Tholian subspecies that have unique abilities for ground exploration and ground combat (if I choose to implement it)!

Tholian fly

This “fly Tholian” is based on a design by Norsehound on DeviantART. It’s still very similar right now, but it will be developed down the line.

A parting video!
Here’s a video of the lighting effects and firing FX for your viewing pleasure. Just bear in mind this is still early days! 🙂

Stay tuned for more!