Messages in Flight – Development Log #130

Excuse the bad play on words in the title, but our communications guy took a few days off this week, so that's gotta do! While Michi wrapped up one flight-related topic and got started on the next one, Martin continued his merry preparations for the upcoming GDPR.

Avatar Martin


If there was one word to describe what I worked on this week it would have to be "infrastructure". Following the mostly legal and organizational preparations for the new upcoming GDPR regulations, the technical ones followed suit. This primarily affects our sign-up pages and the emailing system that we use to send transactional emails, in-game notifications and newsletters to users that have an account with us. While the former was limited to rather small and straight-forward changes (like adding new disclaimers and check-boxes in the sign-up flow), the latter turned out to be a lot of work. A few minor things aside, that's finished though and I can't wait to lay my hand on more game-related stuff again.

Speaking of which... Michi and I did a quick brainstorming session this week talking about something that we've been sorely missing since the larger-scale alpha tests have started: admin tools. At the moment it is really hard for us to help our testers in case of problems or to diagnose complicated bugs because some tools that only ever become important once the game runs outside of a local development environment do not exist yet. For example, a tool to easily take over a user's in-game account without having to mess with actual authentication data would be extremely handy. So that's among the next items on my to-do list... see you next week!

Avatar Michi

Michi (molp)

I finished most of the location refactoring, so this week it was time to start something new that builds upon it: I started on landing and take-off flight segments.

Landings and take-offs is something that we wanted to have in the game for a long time, because we think it will add a lot of depth to how transportation and flights in general will work. For example: not all ships will be able to land on every planet or even at all. There might be large freighters that are loaded and unloaded in orbit by smaller ships with landing capabilities. Since these freighters cannot land, they can be bulky, large and cheaply built. A consequence might be that orbital stations with attached commodity exchanges are popular, since the trading companies can save the fuel for a planetary landing and take-off.

But I am getting ahead of myself. Right now I added the segments to the flight model and worked out rough formulas to calculate the necessary fuel and timings for each. Orbital maneuvers like these tend to be very complicated in the real world, so I had to simplify things. In the game, only the planet's size and atmosphere and the ship's performance are relevant. The larger the planet, the more fuel is necessary for a landing or take-off. The atmosphere has two different effects: during take-off a thinner atmosphere is preferable since the engines don't have to work against the aerodynamic drag. When landing, a thicker atmosphere will reduce the fuel cost since some of the ship's kinetic energy will be converted to heat due to the friction.

As always: we'd love to hear what you think: join us on the forums!

Happy trading!