TAF in v1.77

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bjasspa
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TAF in v1.77

Post by bjasspa »

Firstly a big thank you to the development team for the continued improvements and additions to Oolite - the latest version looks awesome with the new textures and feels faster to boot.

Alas I have a problem with the latest version... I have a couple of OXPs (which I've been meaning to release but never got round to it :roll:) - one is a compact HUD which is a no frills layout to maximise radar and front view, this one works find.

The second one I've called 'Blissful FastForward' with a description of "Temporal speed-up by partial activation of the docking computer's hypnotic sleep inducer." Basically when the equipment is activated it changes the timeAccelerationFactor to 10 to speed-up time or resets it back to 1, it also resets to 1 when the alert condition changes.

Call me uncultured if you will but there's quite a lot of waiting in Oolite and I've only got so much time and prefer spending it to shooting things! This OXP worked a treat in v1.76 but not in v1.77 because TAF has been disabled - what can I do?

I can post the OXP if anyone's interest (not that it works :D).

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Cody »

bjasspa wrote:This OXP worked a treat in v1.76 but not in v1.77 because TAF has been disabled - what can I do?
You could use the Test Release configuration for playing... at least you personally can have TAF back:
For OXP creators, testers and whomever in general would prefer the Test Release configuration, patch programs are available that will do the switch for you. See http://developer.berlios.de/project/fil ... up_id=3577 for download details.
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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Wildeblood »

bjasspa wrote:Call me uncultured if you will... what can I do?
You're uncultured. Try a nightly build.

http://terrastorage.ath.cx/oolite/status_win32.html

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by cim »

TAF is currently only supported as a debugging feature and isn't suitable for actual gameplay. Therefore it's only available in the test release builds, and not in the deployment builds. (As El Viejo says, you can get test release builds, and you could release the OXP as only for those builds)

It's unlikely that TAF will be supported as a gameplay feature in the foreseeable future: Oolite depends on a frame length being less than about 1/25 second of game time for AI, weapons, collision detection, etc. to work properly. At anything over TAF 4x this is not possible (and many older computers aren't able to do this reliably at TAF 1x, for that matter), which significantly limits its usefulness. Furthermore, any efficiency savings that make the game calculations run faster are probably going to end up put back into having more detailed systems, better AIs, better graphics, etc. rather than in trying to reach a state where the game runs 16x as fast as it needs to most of the time just so TAF actually works. Possibly later on computing power will increase so much we can have both, of course.
bjasspa wrote:there's quite a lot of waiting in Oolite
This is true, and more work is needed in this area to make the waiting either avoidable or more interesting in its own right. Again, unfortunately, it's likely to be a while before this happens, as a lot of preparatory work is needed.

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by another_commander »

The TAF was implemented as a testing and debug tool for helping the core and OXP developers. It quickly got the interest of players too, but it was never meant to be used for playing. Why? Because it was a crude way of speeding up game time, which was taking no account of anything (AI responses, collision checks etc.). For this reason and for the version of the game meant for end users, it is disabled.

I can't recall the exact wording right now and am a bit too lazy to search, but Jens had already set the record straight a few months ago: OXPs that rely on the TAF functionality, as implemented on the test releases, are to be considered buggy and in need of fixing.

The only solution is to make it clear in your OXP documentation that it will work only with the Test Release configurations of Oolite.

Edit: Holy Molly, ninja'd three times in one go!

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Smivs »

The removal of TAF from the game was being discussed as long ago as mid 2011, begging the question "Why develop an OXP that relies on a 'feature' that was scheduled for removal?"

On a more helpful note, there is plenty of advice around the board as to how to limit the 'boring' elements of the game. Personally I wouldn't want to change a thing - those long cruises in to the planet make the game for me, adding a realism and immersion-factor that the game really benefits from. It is after all a 'space trading and combat' game, and space is BIG! and not just a shooting gallery.
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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by bjasspa »

What a rapid response...

Smivs: I implemented this OXP before mid 2011 and have been so busy killing things that I missed this thread (never got to Elite first time round, have now!).

I can understand that TAF could be miss-used and/or cause problems leading to confusing bug reports etc. And for those that think that speeding up the slow bits is a cheat I accept a difference of opinion (for me a game has to be fun or I'll stopping playing it). But IMHO 'Blissful FastForward' is different because it deliberately makes game play impossible so who's going to complain?

By this I mean that, although some of the AIs may not be perfect at x10 speed they are still a lot better than us at x10 - basically doing anything at this speed (bar heading towards the base station) is going to lead to an early grave (which is why it auto kicks off when the alert status changes) - so who cares if the AI is not quite right at this speed? You still end up dead - so use at own risk!

As with the instant computer docking, to me this is a reasonable compromise between realism and fun game play, which is why I used the same 'hypnotic sleep inducer' (as referenced in the docking computer blurb) to legitimise it.

Perhaps such a feature/equipment could be built into Oolite so that its use of TAF could be kept internal and better managed?

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Commander McLane »

Alternative suggestion: for a blissful fast forward you could speed your ship up instead of accelerating time.

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Smivs »

bjasspa wrote:What a rapid response...

Smivs: I implemented this OXP before mid 2011 and have been so busy killing things that I missed this thread (never got to Elite first time round, have now!).
Ha, OK, that's a good excuse so I'll let you off then :P. Congrats on getting to Elite - something I have never done!
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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by bjasspa »

An interesting idea, but not the same thing and could easy be used to cheat.

What I like about my current implementation is the authenticity and danger of it - if I leave it on in combat the baddies are effectively going 10x faster than me (as my reaction speed is the same and the controls are so sensitive that targeting is impossible) so I get shot to pieces.

If I speed up the ship instead I could simply use this to fly away from trouble (bit like a super-boost to the fuel injector) so much more of a help than a hindrance when in trouble.

As with the docking computer, the whole premise here is that the pilot is put into a semi concious state that make time effectively speed-up - but only from the pilot's point of view. However, unlike the docking computer, Blissful FastForward still allows you to get shot to shreds which is why I claim it to be more authentic than simply jumping to the required end point.

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by JeX »

Commander McLane wrote:Alternative suggestion: for a blissful fast forward you could speed your ship up instead of accelerating time.
Although this would completely kill the balance of the game since so much relies on deadlines and contracts. It would basically be a cheat rather than a gameplay enhancer.

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Commander McLane »

JeX wrote:
Commander McLane wrote:Alternative suggestion: for a blissful fast forward you could speed your ship up instead of accelerating time.
Although this would completely kill the balance of the game since so much relies on deadlines and contracts. It would basically be a cheat rather than a gameplay enhancer.
Well, there are tons of OXPs which are basically cheats rather than gameplay enhancers. :wink:

Also, it depends on the implementation. I wasn't thinking about giving your ship a higher max speed. I was thinking about something analogous to the Retro Rockets from 16bit Elite: one keypress gives you a sudden boost in your current direction of travel by manipulating player.ship.velocity (for instance multiplying it with, say, 25). The risk is that you lose part of your control over your ship. The inertial movement drives you in the same direction as long as it persists, and your engines can only counteract it over time. Until then you can't really change direction. So the effect is similar to what you're experiencing with time acceleration: you can run into something and not be able to avoid it.

This can also be used for some newtonian fight features: you could pass by an enemy and turn your ship to face another direction than you're flying to, constantly firing sideways with your forward laser. The downside is the same as with dogfights in FE2: only long after overshooting can you turn your ship around and return to the site.

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Rorschachhamster »

Commander McLane wrote:.... The downside is the same as with dogfights in FE2: only long after overshooting can you turn your ship around and return to the site.
OH, how I hated that... :evil:
That said, if it's ultimately YOUR choice to fire the boosters (or not), it sounds like fun... :D

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Captain Patrick »

I'd like to see this OXP, please.

I’ve always been uncomfortable with the Torus Drive/Jump Drive in this game.

Mainly: that only the Player ever seems to have one, or ever use it. Even from a great distance, you never see a lone NPC zipping along at multiples of his or her normal speed, or otherwise moving except by recognizably other mechanisms (System Drive, same + Fuel Injector, or Hyperspace).

Also: that so-called "Mass Lock" is triggered by the smallest ship, but not by the largest asteroid. Also, that it gives no-one incentive to travel in the spacelanes between witchpoint and station, rather than off to the side where there are no pirates and no other ships to slow one down. And so on.

We all know that the only reason Jump Drive exists at all is to get through the boring bits of space travel more quickly. But clearly there's another way of doing this that makes more sense, and is at least as fun.

In the test (not deployment) version of 1.77.1 for the Mac (see http://developer.berlios.de/project/sho ... up_id=3577), I can type "p" (to pause the game), Shift-F (to open the debug menu), then right-arrow 4 times to change the "TAF" (Time Acceleration Factor) from x1.00 to (up to) x16.00, and Shift-F and "p" again to clear the screen and resume the game - now with _everything_ 16 times faster. Reversing these steps drops me back into realtime.

At such high speed, the graphics aren't spectacular (FPS on my Mac Mini dropped from 60 to 48), but that's acceptable for a "Fast Forward”, tootling along by myself or following some friends. The controls are very difficult (sixteen times more sensitive!), but one can always briefly return to Normal mode to make fine adjustments.

But my behaviour as a player becomes much more natural - ie in keeping with what I’m seeing all the other ships doing in the Ooniverse. I can keep on Fast Forward while banding with an existing formation of ships as a "caravan" for mutual protection, or while passing one. I can stop and check out some specks ahead, before or soon after they enter scanner range. All existing OXPs should still be compatible, and some like Oo-Haul might be even more fun to play.

I don’t really care if a Fast Forward decreases the quality of the simulation in some other part of the system I’m not watching and maybe will never visit - a ship passing through an asteroid, or whatever - if it doesn’t actually crash the program. As far as I’m concerned, Jump Drive breaks the simulation already - everyone else practically holds still while I Jump the queue. And I certainly don’t mind having to use a Test Release of the game to be able to use this. Perhaps it wouldn’t work properly on slower computers, but that’s already true for other OXPs & combinations.

So I’d be very interested in an OXP that, say, changes the function of the “j” button from Jump Drive to this new Fast Forward - either push-on/push-off, or (preferably) press-on/release-off. Possibly it could switch off automatically on “Red Alert” (but not “Mass Lock”), but not necessarily - being blown out of the sky would be a fair price for being “asleep at the wheel”.

I’ve also read related discussions at:

http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=8908
http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=9139
http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=11094

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Re: TAF in v1.77

Post by Diziet Sma »

Captain Patrick wrote:I’ve always been uncomfortable with the Torus Drive/Jump Drive in this game.

Mainly: that only the Player ever seems to have one, or ever use it. Even from a great distance, you never see a lone NPC zipping along at multiples of his or her normal speed, or otherwise moving except by recognizably other mechanisms (System Drive, same + Fuel Injector, or Hyperspace).
If you have Escort Contracts OXP installed, you'll get to see (and interact with) NPCs that use the Torus Drive.. :wink:
Captain Patrick wrote:Also: that so-called "Mass Lock" is triggered by the smallest ship, but not by the largest asteroid.
This I have no problem with.. ship's engines are made from incredibly dense materials.. the localised distortion they create in space/time is considerably more than that produced by a large asteroid. It is this distortion that causes the Torus field to collapse.

Overall, however, you make some good points.
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