[Game] SigmaTau

edited November 2019 in Sigma Tau

Not much details on this one besides: "Spaceship Bridge Simulator"

Appears to be written in Haskell, if I understand correctly.

I haven't been able to test this game yet, and no screenshots are available.


  • Um, wow. Sigma Tau is a project of my creation. I started concepting it, I think, about 2 years ago. Different work on it has been scattered--but it has never left my mind.

    It is actually coded in three languages: JavaScript (with HTML & CSS), Haskell, and D (quite similar to C++).

    In the last couple months solid progress has been done on the game itself. I was expecting to share a post here, in the next month or so, on what it is and what makes it different from the many others. I guess I will need to do so sooner rather than later now.

    That is cool that you discovered in the wild interwebs!

  • I think Kwadroke just regularly searches github for "bridge simulation". As he found EmptyEpsilon in the week I uploaded the first bit of code as well, and reported that it did not build.

  • Yeah, every so often I do random searches on GitHub & Youtube for Bridge Sims.

    Love to see some WIP screenshots.

  • Functionality is what is being worked on not appearance but here is a screenshot of the current state of the terminal:

  • So, what are your plans? What makes it different from others? It is always cool to read what other people are planning to make.

  • I am still working on drafting that @daid. Thanks for showing interest! Not to hype it...

  • I recommend on being agile. Don't try to write out everything at the start, but just have general concepts and test and see what actually works. Else your plan will get too big and complex and might not even work.

    So just write down a few thoughts, instead of a whole design document.

  • That's good advice...

  • Sigma Tau is a Spaceship Bridge Simulator.  With Sigma Tau we are trying to take Bridge Simulators to new places. 

    These are the core concepts of the vision for Sigma Tau:

    • Continuous Play
    • Slow paced times where bathroom/lunch breaks can be taken.
    • Fast paced action in times like combat.  
    • The transition between these mostly player driven so officers can leave their computer and embellish the meta-game.
    • Continuous World
    • A world to be known and to come back to.
    • Accessible but Expansive World
    • Orbiting planets. 
    • Newtonian physics with stations drifting through deep space.
    • Smaller than real life so planets are close enough to interact with and orbiting mechanics can be used in real time.
      • Orbits would happen in a matter of minutes not hours (or even days).
    • Concrete core with many varying systems/weapons
      • Systems/weapons are not hard coded in the mechanics of the game, to allow for many different variations.
      • A ship does not merely have X many tubes; there are many types of tubes and weapons which different ships might have.
      • More than just a “warp” or a “jump”; there are different warp drives of different powers and efficiencies with different ways of functioning.
    • Complex, Deep, Difficult ship control
      • The control of the ship is not some complex contrived puzzle but a truly large task.
      • Depth to where an officer can continually get better.
      • Potentially bridges up to 12 players; Although this more of a direction to work toward rather than a directly achievable goal.
      • Some officers--like the sciences--operate as a sub group; solving their problems together rather than every officer completely individually.
    • Loose officer definition
      • Ship control is separated into systems rather than officers.
      • Officer responsibility can be customized to optimize.
        • Presets would exist for varying numbers of players.
      • Some officers can have smaller responsibilities while others having more.
        • Allows for players with varying ability to still be able to play without being cumbersome to the others.
        • This is great for players with younger siblings.
    • Highly Unique Stations
      • Different “stations” are as different as possible--almost as another genre.
    • Informative & Practical Ship Appearance
      • Ships are created from their parts (components).
        • The components are combined as a sort of sandbox.
      • Ship appearance is not wholly artist designed.
        • Ship components are artist designed.
      • When Science looks at an image of the ship he should be able to identify some parts of the ship by their look and see where their tubes are, etc.

    The beginnings of the concept, for what is now known as Sigma Tau, started several years ago merely as things we would love to see in a bridge simulator.  It gradually formed itself into a game concept of its own.

    I love to collaborate.  And plan to be very open with the Spaceship Bridge Simulator community.

    I will get build instructions out in a bit, although currently the only thing you can do is fly around...

  • Orbiting planets. 

    Newtonian physics with stations drifting through deep space.

    Smaller than real life so planets are close enough to interact with and orbiting mechanics can be used in real time.

    Orbits would happen in a matter of minutes not hours (or even days).

    I have had a few experiments with this. And the combination doesn't really work, unless you have really overpowered engines, at which point the effects of orbits and Newtonian physics are gone.

    Or, instead of overpowered engines, you need time warping like KSP has.

    I recommend building an experiment to test this part, as I did, and never got parameters that worked for a game.

  • @daid

    Well, time warping is not going to work.

    I will do some experimenting.

    I don't think "overpowered engines" will be a problem.  I think I could rephrase what I said. I am not looking for orbital mechanics which need to be taken advantage of (with things like gravity assists–although being able to use gravity assists to save energy would be cool) but orbital mechanics which affect the dynamics of the world and the feel.

    You can always use your engines to easily get to wherever you want but if you "hold still" you will either orbit or fall.

    Are you saying this was difficult to achieve?

  • edited January 2020

    A world to be known and to come back to.

    Orbiting planets.

    These two goals are slightly at odds with one another. If planets are orbiting a star, they're going to move around, so it will be hard to get an intuitive feel of the lay of the land and know where things are relative to one another, as those relationships will be constantly changing, though this could be mitigated by having the more static relationships be those between stars, and making the planets and their orbits around stars easily discoverable/viewable via some computer assistance. But intuitively driving around between planets in a system without consulting some sort of map may prove difficult. (But you did also say "Complex, Deep, Difficult ship control", so maybe that's fine.)

    Another thing I've found which you might consider in your design is that it tends to be difficult to get a group of people and esp. the same group together to play for more than a few hours at a time and on a regular basis. This tends to push the design towards smaller bite sized episodes (or "mission scripts") rather than towards a long continuous campaign, so that you have self contained units that can be experienced to completion during the limited time that people have to play and so that you don't need the exact same set of people whenever you do play. Solo games to me seem like a better fit for a long continuous campaign. Not to say you can't do it, just that I feel that it's not quite a natural fit for this genre for practical reasons.

  • Orbital mechanics are not intuitive. My husband has been playing Celestial Command, a game in EA that has a single body orbital mechanics mode. It did not take long for him to switch to the arcade-fake atmosphere game controls.

    If you were looking at a longer continuous world then a real-time-like orbital mechanics could be interesting in slowly changing the gameworld. Celestial positions can be procedural calculated using 6 orbital parameters per body.

    The problem is that most bridge-sim games are at the star-trek level of tech. These ships have so much energy, engine power, and fuel, that orbital mechanics are irrelevant. Scale the tech level back to a level like The Expanse and then orbital positions become important in deciding when to transfer to another world.

    The part I consider interesting is the continuous gameworld. The advantage to mission scripts (the wing commander/freespace linage) is that it is easy to craft an engaging experience for all the crew members. An open-world like experience sounds really fun, but it becomes a lot harder to keep a large number of people engaged. Combat missions have something for everyone, but a 20 minute hauling run through a very safe part of space isn't exciting for your tactical officer. There would need to be a way that a ship could be run by one person (abit probably not too well), but others can hop in and out and take roles as needed. I'd check Pulsar Lost colony ( https://store.steampowered.com/app/252870/PULSAR_Lost_Colony/ ) out to see how they did that.

  • @smcameron

    These two goals are slightly at odds with one another.

    Um, yeah, I see what you are saying. Although a static world is easy to know; an orbiting world can still become familiar. The same stations with the same names and same shapes, same planets, etc. not necessarily same positions.

    I think the scale will be primarily within a single system. When you have multiple systems, each system basically becomes a separate world. Which may be fine, but although I did mention it explicitly, I am not looking for that separated feeling.

    But intuitively driving around between planets in a system without consulting some sort of map

    I expect navigating around to require some sorts of "maps".

    prove difficult

    Yes, "difficulty" is expected. If there are 6 players playing the game then I expect the game to have 6x as much stuff to be done. Each officer is basically playing a separate--although connected--game, the difficulty of the game should take this into account.

    difficult to get a group of people and esp. the same group together

    Sadly, yes. Sigma Tau does have a small target audience. I do want the game to be accessible to dissimilar groups playing in the same "save". The world will not change much between plays and different ships could join the same save. Also, I do not want to cut out smaller "missions" but engaging in them will be within the game-play rather than out-side of it.

    The expectation is that at events, before players have all come, as part of the setup, the simulation is started. The ship is docked but systems are running. As officers come in they--figuratively--step into the world. The ship is yours and you are in the world. The meta-game is, very much, part of the game.

    Thanks for commenting!

  • You can always use your engines to easily get to wherever you want but if you "hold still" you will either orbit or fall.

    An orbit is a controlled fall, or more, an orbit is constantly falling and just missing the planet your falling towards.

    Most likely the result will be that people will just fly towards their target, match speed, and then be confused why the keep slowly drifting in unexpected directions related to their target. Remember, the first time I did docking in KSP, it took me more then an hour to successfully dock. Due to not fully understanding all the "odd" drifting due to orbital mechanics. And KSP is a whole game build around building rockets and orbital mechanics.

    But enough about that for now. I see another issue. And that's a massively big plan, I've never seen a massively big plan ever succeed. Start small, 1 important major concept, and develop on that. If you are only allowed 1 "pitch line" so to say, what would you say that makes your bridge sim unique? Start with that. Build that. Build the rest on top of that, slowly. Is it the "continues world"? Or the "many varying system"? Or the "complex flight mechanics"?

    On the many different system. I've tried the simulator way, where I've build small systems, and simulate them and have the combined simulation create a bigger overall effect. I had things like batteries, power buses, heating&coolant systems. Everything generated heat, could overheat, needed power, could produce power. Things like that, all connected to each other. Engines worked by having two pumps that pumped O2 and H2 into a combustion chamber and then igniting it. And it had a few major problems:

    1. It was really hard to balance everything out. Just the control systems and all values took forever to tweak into working value ranges.
    2. It was really hard to understand what went wrong as soon as something went wrong. Engine no longer works? Oh, no O2? Oh, pump failed, why? Because it's power went out? Because the powerbus on which it was connected overheated due to the battery being overcharged that was next to it. It's so many interconnected things to convey to the player, that is impossible to grasp.

    In the end, it wasn't really fun as well. As it ether works, or nothing works. Sure, there where some interesting setups you could build, but 95% of the setups you could build just didn't work. And 99% of them didn't work very well. And I think you could achieve the same effect towards the players with simpler "scripted" systems.

  • @croxis

    I have not played Celestial Command myself yet, but I love what I have seen of it and it is very inspiring!

    That is true, orbital mechanics are not very intuitive to the average person as they seem to me. I do believe they are more intuitive to some and less to others. For the pilot, flight is his game. Flight, for balance, therefore, should be involved enough to be a game of its own. In Celestial Command, there is much more to the game than navigating; for the Sigma Tau pilot, flight *is* his game. I pilot is not your thing, that is fine, I hope so other positions are to your liking. I know there are people who enjoy playing with orbital mechanics. Every position is targeted at the same people. (e.g. I LOVE EE engineering, others prefer "not engineering").

    Daid also mentioned that orbital mechanics would become irrelevant. I do not think this is necessarily the case. Orbital mechanics can be mostly irrelevant for navigation (unlike, perhaps, Celestial Command) but still effect flight.

    An open-world like experience sounds really fun, but it becomes a lot harder to keep a large number of people engaged.

    You are right. I am sure it will be a different open world experience from anything else. I am not committing to make a full open world succeed, it may end up not being practical. What I do expect, at least, is mission selection to be in-game rather than in a menu before the game begins.

    I have played Pulsar, some. Although I need to play it more to get a good feel for the game.

  • @daid

    Sorry for the late reply.

    Your experience you shared with KSP is valuable, and I appreciate sharing of that kind of experience.  How difficult is it for you to dock now? Is is fairly easy or still difficult every time?

    I am not trying to make a game which is particularly easy to pick up.  EE and Artemis are a couple of the easiest games I have played to pick up, which is good because the collaboration in bridge sims is so foreign; Sigma Tau is targeted at players who have already played bridge other sims.

    You claim “KSP is a whole game built around building rockets and orbital mechanics”.  For the Navigator/Helm, flying is the game. Although I have limited ability to make it more complicated, I am certainly not wanting to put effort into making it simpler.

    Thank you Daid for sharing your findings in your tests with complex systems.

    Um, yes this is a large vision, but I shared it as just that, a vision.  These are the ideas I want to work towards--assuming they work after testing.  It is true, I can get a bit of an overreach, which I have to hold back (: Thanks for being interested in the practice side of Sigma Tau’s creation.

    I will make a separate post about the current goal for Sigma Tau.

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