So, why this post. First off, just to dump my mind a bit. As it's getting full in here.
As you all will most likely know. I started EmptyEpsilon as a better, open, hackable/moddable clone of Artemis. And it does a pretty decent job on that area. It plays well, it's quite stable, it's pretty easy to pick up, runs well with or without a game-master. And it does not suffer any out-of-sync problems (after the collision bug was squashed...)
It also has it's share of negatives, the sound effects suck. The amount of mission scripts is limited. Few parts are a bit harder to grasp then others.
But all of that, isn't a huge problem. The game works, people enjoy it.
Now the last year or so, I've been pondering about making a new bridge-simulator game. I've made a whole bunch of silly proof of concept/tech demos to try things. Just to name a few things.
* There is the way too complex highly modular C++/lua prototype that contains a lot of code for something that only simulates an unstable reactor core, but does contain it's own scripting language next to lua...
* Then there is the slightly less, but still complex, modular python code with a web frontend, using true orbital physics. Which actually has a lot of the simulation problems that the unstable reactor core had. (Making the same mistake twice?)
* And not to forget to mention, the electrical network simulator, where components can be placed on a grid and electrical connections can be made, but I never got the UI up to a point where it was a joy to work with this code. This also quickly became complicated without adding anything really.
* I have an ascii-turn-based-single-player-roguelike-spaceship-simulator, doesn't work very well on a conceptual level.
I've been noticing a few things in what I'm building. First off, i'm trying various technologies to build on top. Secondly, I noticed I never touched combat. EE and Artemis are quite combat heavy, and that has it's plus side, as it's clear what goals are, and combat is generally tense action. But i think they can be more to bridge simulation then combat.
Finally, none of my prototypes had a fixed amount of players, except for the single-player-turned-based thing. EE is clearly optimized for 6 players (5 stations plus a captain)
I think with the right engine/mission/scripts/data, you could have a lot of interesting scenarios without ever touching combat. Just to name random ones:
* Tracing/tracking warp signatures to follow a ship
* Handling a ship with broken system (detecting, fixing and recovering from a coolant leak in the right truster engines)
* General maneuvering/flying in full 3D, while orbital mechanics are hard, Newtonian physics are quite easy to grasp.
* Trading goods
* Docking, with full docking communication/negotiation (please shut down your fusion reactor before getting within 5km of our station, to prevent radiation blasting our station)
* Landing on planets/moons, managing fuel, speed, angle of attack.
* Maneuvering deep space
Next, I noticed that I'm having trouble on settling on technology, everything has it's advantages and problems.
* C++ with SFML and OpenGL gives a lot of flexibility and speed. But is also slower to develop in. The 2nd version of Serious proton addresses quite a few of the problems in the first version. But isn't mature yet, but I do have a lot of experience in C++.
* Python with PyQT5 and QML, we use this at the office a lot. Quite fast to develop in, but harder to properly package and deploy. QML gives a nice markup language for UI development.