I’d like to start a discussion about “ballistics” in video games.
(I tried to post the same message on RelicNews forums first, but my message has seemingly been swallowed by moderation…)
First, what games have them?
Well, as you know there’s Homeworld 1 and Homeworld : Cataclysm.
Then there’s distant Homeworld “relatives” Sword of the Stars 1 & 2 (as well as Treasure Planet : Battle of Procyon).
You can seen a very nice example of projectiles from SotS1 firing here, some of which are applying force on impact :
(EDIT : New, working again, link : ) https://youtu.be/3L8kB6Brlqc
Of interest are the line of direct-fire torpedoes (the large purple ones in this video) which don’t lead their target and so tend to perform very poorly against destroyers (the smallest ship class, here you see the biggest - dreadnaughts against medium - cruisers).
Another example, with smaller mass driver weapons and tractor beams :
There’s also the line of Total Annihilation games, starting from the original :
https://youtu.be/jH2Px61f1NE?t=3m56s (admittedly hard to see, since even if the game is actually 3D, everything is displayed in 2D)
Then with Spring engine games, Supreme Commander (1 only?) and Planetary Annihilation.
You can see some examples of ballistic weapons in this video (including throwing units with repulsor beams) :
Ballistic mechanics are IMO rewarding because they allow for combat that feels more realistic (since we’ve all played some form of ball-throwing game or a game like pool where you have to hit balls).
It also sometimes allows for memorable situations like this one :
(sorry for the bad quality video)
(If you’re aware of other games where ballistics/bullet tracking/physic simulations actually impacting combat are widely used, please list them too.)
The price is potential lag, most of the games mentioned before suffer from it when there are too many units on the screen firing. This gets especially noticeable in SotS1/2 when one of the players start packing stormers or rapid-fire rockets that fire 10 submunitions per barrel… and as you have about 15 barrels per cruiser and about 13 cruiser-equivalents in the end-game fleets in SotS1 and about 25 in SotS2… 101513=1950 shots every 8 seconds… this goes up quick! (and you can have up to 8 players per battle…)
Now, there’s a new game coming up, Ashes Of The Singularity, and Stardock is saying that “every shot fired has its own targeting solution and ballistics model” scaled to “literally thousands of units” :
They’re saying that’s possible because of the new Nitrous Engine in combination with AMD’s Mantle (and/or DirectX12? There’s also “Vulcan”…)
What I don’t get is, I have been assuming for quite a while that this kind of processing couldn’t be parallelized due to synchronization issues between cores (which would only get only worse in multiplayer), but now they are saying they supposedly have found a way to do that? Or is that, as some commenters on RPS said, “bulls#!t”?
There are people right now that are comparing HW1 “ballistic” model to HW2 “RNG” one. If I’m not mistaken, most (?) ballistic models in games ALSO use a RNG system to simulate targeting inaccuracy : the shots are fired within a cone, with a RNG determining the actual angle. So if “ballistic” models are better, it’s because they allow for more complex, “realistic” and emergent gameplay, not because there’s no RNG involved.