It’s been a week since our last post, and we’ve been hard at work!

I have been putting a lot of time into writing an atmosphere shader. The results are seen below:


The shader features lighting from the sun, bloom lighting, a slight gradient, and an effect that increases transparency only in the middle of the sphere. The bloom lighting was important to reduce the sharpness of edges and to give it a misty look. The gradient allows us to make many different colorations of atmospheres, which should make planets look even more interesting. I think this actually looks fairly good for a single weekend’s work from someone who doesn’t understand the true physics behind this stuff at all! Hopefully in the future we’ll be able to add cloud cover, but that’s likely going to have to wait a little while.

There were a couple of other features added this week too, the most important of which is probably decals. Decals allow us to display multiple images on a single block! The use of this right now is showing damage on blocks, but in the future we might use it to display more information, such as energy, empire affiliation, and the like. Grant also added tiny little transport ships that fly from building to building within your colony. I added the ability to mine resources now and convert them into goods, but it is still fairly buggy so I’m not too keen on showing it yet. The good news is that it seems to be a very natural way to choose which resources you would like to gather and how much of each, so you shouldn’t need to worry too much about figuring out production chains and such to make that critical item you need.

There are only nine more days left in our work on colonies so we’ll likely be trying to wrap all that up and show it to you soon!





9 responses to “Atmospheres”

  1. gkxgkx says :

    Will the atmos have friction? It’d be awesome to see your ship burning as it approaches a planet, and some planets vs. others might be easier to fly within the atmos due to viscosity.

    • Cpt. Fresh says :

      I actually thought it would be really cool (and not too hard) to have your ship burn up as your approach a planet. I’m not entirely sure how much we’ll do with different types of atmospheres, but I suppose a thick, gaseous atmosphere could be something that would be fun. So I guess the answer to both questions is “Maybe, but don’t hold your breath.”

    • A-Type says :

      I’m not seeing atmosphere viscosity in the near future, if at all. It’s an interesting idea for adding barriers for the player, but I’m not sure how intuitive it would be, or how worthwhile to implement.

      Certainly, though we’ll be looking to include some burning/blurring/FOV effects.

      • gkxgkx says :

        Good to know. (This reply is to both Cpt. Fresh and A-Type)

        My thought process for this was, perhaps, a bit silly and it might not at all be where you’re planning on moving the project, but I personally love considering the interesting physical properties of space (I’ve always wanted to see warfare between two small binary planets… Projectiles would mean so much more!).

        That said, and, obviously this is a whimsical suggestion, there are so incredibly many interesting physical implications of atmospheres. For example, if the planet were small enough but thickly gaseous (and the ship were voluminous but not massive), I believe the ship would neither float nor sink through the atmosphere but rather reach an equilibrium exactly where the buoyant force (which is constant assuming constant atmosphere and volume) would be identical but opposite to the gravitational force (partly due to the fact that, given a sufficiently dense gas and small planet, the active gravitational mass would actually be decreasing as the ship approached the planet, as some of the planet’s gravitational mass would actually be coming from the gas itself), meaning the ship would float.

        This could mean any number of things for the budding entrepreneurial ship! What if the gas were valuable, and this was a fantastic way to harvest it? Or perhaps an entirely different set of interesting circumstances were to arise, causing new an innovative ways of physically interacting with different planetary bodies.

        Again, I don’t expect you to implement these (and certainly not yet), but these are just interesting ideas and I love trying to flesh them out and see if they could become viable.

      • A-Type says :

        @gkxgkx: these all sound like great ideas indeed. That kind of universe-building and feeling of unlimited possibilities is something we want to incorporate in this game, but I don’t think to the technical extent of what you imagine. I’m just not sure that fits the scope of our project, even though I think all of your ideas are really creative and cool. Almost makes me want to make another space game after this just to use them… You do any game development yourself?

  2. gkxgkx says :


    Yeah, I’m working on some stuff right now, though I’m mostly (this week) working on Windows Phone Development (I think it’d be awesome to be able to make games that would be both on the computer and the Windows Phone, even possibly on the XBox in the future.

    My longer term goals quite possibly include space as well, which is why I’m so greatly interested in this project.

    • A-Type says :

      XBox is a tough development environment, or so I have been informed. Heck, it only has 512mb of RAM (probably the main reason we’ll never fit Gravitas on there). You might be able to work it if your app was designed for WP7, though, since there are similar limitations.

      • gkxgkx says :

        I’m not advanced enough in Computer Science to realize the implications of the lower RAM, though in my dabbling with Assembly last semester, I kind of have trouble imagining filling up 512MB with a program but, more importantly, by the time I enter the field with a program large enough, I’m sure the consoles will be large enough to accomodate.

      • A-Type says :

        RAM is a pretty big issue in ‘block games’. Consider that one planet can contain tens of thousands of blocks, each with health and other properties. Now add a few planets per galaxy, plus tens of asteroids… that’s a lot of data, coupled with geometry data (vertices, etc) and player data, as well as position and velocity of every independent object… it adds up!

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