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Submitted by Tim Auld, posted on January 03, 2001

Image Description, by Tim Auld

Here are a few screenshots from the multiplayer space trader I'm working on in my spare time. Right now it's a pretty standard poly pusher, but I'm planning on having indoor portal rendering for space station exploration and for buildings on the surface, as well as terrain rendering. It has distance based modelled LOD, 3D Studio MAX export/import, decals, turrets, triangle perfect collisions, and lots of nice alpha effects, including a hyperspace tunnel.

There is a technology demo on the web site:

Tim Auld

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Archive Notice: This thread is old and no longer active. It is here for reference purposes. This thread was created on an older version of the flipcode forums, before the site closed in 2005. Please keep that in mind as you view this thread, as many of the topics and opinions may be outdated.

January 03, 2001, 07:53 PM

Hmmm ion trails....

gonna play abit of homeworld now

good shots

Quidquid latine dictum sit, altum viditur


January 03, 2001, 08:16 PM

How are you rendering the laser things?

Tim Auld

January 03, 2001, 09:00 PM

The beams and projectiles are rendered (almost) the same way. They are essentially alpha textured quads oriented to face the camera. Homeworld does it in the same way. If you look down the axis of the beam you will see it rotate wildly as it tries to face the camera.

The beams (as opposed to the projectiles) also have texture coordinates greater than 1, which repeats the texture over the length of the quad. I add a time dependant offset to the same texture coordinate which makes the texture scroll at a certain rate.

The projectiles have a dot product dependent alpha blended cross-section quad, so when you look down their axis you see that it has some volume and is not just a flat rectangle. When you look at the projectile sideways, however, this quad fades out and is soon not rendered.

Hope this answers your question :)


January 03, 2001, 09:44 PM

Great demo, I especially like the projectiles. Keep up the good work.


January 03, 2001, 11:44 PM

WHOO! 5th POST!! or is it 4th? =P




January 04, 2001, 12:18 AM

Ok, lets not get into a flame war here.
Greg, if you can make a better space shooter than this is currently beside the point (besides it's a space trading game). The important
thing is that this pic would appear to be an damn fine example of a
game made in someone's spare time. In fact its really quite a plesant change to have something other than a terrain engine or a particle engine (no ofence to people who have published those).
Just be careful what you say, this guy's probably put his heart intoo getting this game as good as it is so far, and I think that its not fair to critisize it without giving any justification or suggestion as of how to make it better.

Douglas Cox

January 04, 2001, 12:46 AM

LOL... I just spent earlier today creating trails just like yours/Homeworlds (thanks John). Anyway, I'm rendering them as a tri-strip and was wondering (1) if you're doing that and (2) how do you preserve the width at bends.

For (2) I was averaging the normals to the two segments, and planning to:
if |Nx| > |Ny| Nx = 1.0, Ny = Ny / Nx
else Ny = 1.0, Nx = Nx / Ny



January 04, 2001, 01:12 AM

Heh. Welcome to the club.

Warren Marshall

January 04, 2001, 01:19 AM



January 04, 2001, 01:41 AM

Sweet, thanks for the quick reply. I am downloading your demo right now but the screen shots look amazing. I have one more question. How do you render the ion trails so that they bend and such. Do you generate quads so that they do not overlap and fade out with time and then generate them more frequently at bends?

Thanks again,


January 04, 2001, 01:51 AM

WENT TO YOUR SITE... I like the idea of the game.

Just one request... wouldn't it be great to have the ability to walk around the interior and exterior of your space craft.

You could then:

leave your ship...
board another spacecraft...
kill the pilot... and then gut the ship or steal it.

( arrrrrrr space piracy! ) Ignore me. ;)

I am very impressed with ion trails myself...

and ( from the description on your web site... ) I'll be looking into the methods you implemented to make the missles "smart". impressive.

I like it... keep up the good work. :)


January 04, 2001, 02:11 AM

I liked it too. Lots actually - thought it was "Very Damned Snazzy".
I do a bit of 3d max modeling/ 3d coding in my spare time - maybe I can give you a hand with how to texture up those ships a little bit?
Quick demo of something that might be suitable for your game:


January 04, 2001, 02:28 AM

We typically reserve comments like that to #flipcode... :)


January 04, 2001, 04:50 AM

I don't believe this. Please tell me this was a joke.

Please download this game, and read the included readme.htm. This is one dude that wants to make a game all by himself, just to prove that this is still possible, and because he has some very clear ideas about how HIS game should look.

Nobody ever made a better space game than Elite. And it looked like shit. If you can do BETTER, I'm really curious about what department you intend to improve.

But again, I hope this was a joke.


January 04, 2001, 04:55 AM

Wow, looks awesome.

I also love the idea of lunatic of that space piracy thing. Kind of mix between grand theft auto (but now in space ;)) and the walk-around-the-ship idea of unreal tournament (never played it much though, but I can remember a level where you can also walk around on the surface of a huge spaceship while the ship was rotating and all planets passed by). That would really fill up the concept of your title; docking, breaking through the airlock, kill or capture all personal/droids and such and fly away with the craft using all its capabilities capturing an even larger ship with more goodies and resources ;) Also nice multiplayer idea: people take eachothers ship and must escape from eachother when captured using an escape pod or some teleporting device. I sure can keep going on and on with this idea :))

Anyway, very nice atmosphere and engine you got there.

Keep on coding !


January 04, 2001, 05:01 AM

Well, that's for sure the most impressive post i've ever seen! Good w... nah, nevermind. You suck.


January 04, 2001, 05:02 AM

"Heh. Welcome to the club."

2:Search for the word netetiquette in your favourite search-engine.

I think this IOTD is very nice, I realy like that logo you made, Tim.
Stuff in some extra code&graphics and let's see if it is a better game than those 2 'ppl' I mentioned above can produce.

Oh,...maybe you 2 should make a game togheter?
So you can have those nice arguments&interresting posts somewhere else?

ps:you can always attack me by pointing out my spelling-errors, 'cauz I'm dutch, so there should be plenty, ok?

Tim Auld

January 04, 2001, 05:16 AM

Nice idea, lunatic. In fact, it might be smart to generalise it so that all objects can have an interior and an exterior. Then when you land inside a space station, you can walk around inside your ship to the exit hatch, walk out, and see the exterior of your ship.. very sweet. The exterior model of objects could have one or more portals that when activated render the cells inside the object, so you could look inside (and walk back in).

Damn I've got a long feature list ;)

Hmm.. first person action as well huh? Maybe the designers of Starwars Online (or whatever its called) should be taking notes.

Thanks for everyone's encouragement, especially you EGreg :)


January 04, 2001, 05:26 AM

"Heh. Welcome to the club."

... just to be correct.

Hmmm... when i am surrounded by idiots, and Warren says the truth, am i surrounded by myself?

And i'm quite sure that you didn't get the sarcasm in EGregs post.

Oh, and there are spelling errors in your post.


January 04, 2001, 05:34 AM

Blindsheep->I don't like sarcasm in 'serious' forums.
There are chatboxes for that purpose, and there is a reason why I'm never in those things.

'Suckers with no style, I hope you get offended'
-Cypress Hill

ps:I have put those spellingerrors there on purpose:)


January 04, 2001, 05:34 AM

Could you please put a red dot in the game ?

Tim Auld

January 04, 2001, 05:39 AM

I think I can answer yours and Douglas' questions at once. Doug, I'm not absolutely sure what you mean by preserving the width at bends, but here's my best shot. The trail is recording as a circular queue of 3D points and an associated creation time. The creation time is used to 'age' the point, by fading the alpha and eventually removing the point from the queue. There are also some tricks with interpolating alpha at the head and tail of the trail, since I didn't want there to be an abrupt end.

The trail is rendered as a quad strip, the normals of which are generated similar to the manner in which I orientate the projectiles and beams towards the camera, except this is done on a point by point (at each segment intersection) basis. So the quad strip twists to face the camera as best as possible. This doesn't always look nice, however. If you press F2 in the demo to get to the rear view, and fly around, you will see it twisting a little. To combat this I break the quad strip whenever there is an inflection point (I think this is the right term), and start a new one facing the opposite direction. It looks a lot better now than before I did this.

Homeworld does it differently, actually. I think they assign the normals using the vertical axis of the ship at that point in time. They use two quad strips to give the impression of volume. It's probably a more elegant solution :)

Tim Auld

January 04, 2001, 05:43 AM

I forgot to say that at this time, the points in the trail are not recorded more frequently at bends, they are at regulare time intervals. It is a very good idea though :)

I have a minimum distance, so when the ship stops you don't get lots of points in a small area, and the trail will soon disappear.


January 04, 2001, 06:05 AM

I downloaded the demo and had a problem, when I run in 32bit or 16bit mode everything was ok but when
I tried any 24bit mode everything in the main menu looked green, and there were error in the cursor blending.
Hope this dosn't happen only on my comp.

I like the ion trails too.

Phil Carlisle

January 04, 2001, 06:31 AM

Good work, I always find it nicer to see someone working on a "game" instead of the usual "engine" stuff.

But anyway, suggestions: Textures, they would add a lot (although having said that, I like the style from the screenshot), if your doing a trading game, then have a good economy model.

Also look at generation of locations (like the old elite) it feels so big because a lot of the star systems were procedurally generated.



January 04, 2001, 07:16 AM

This game rocks!

nuff said..


January 04, 2001, 08:32 AM

are you ACTUALLY the person who saved frodo and his mates from the black riders? or are you lying about your identity?


January 04, 2001, 08:44 AM

nice shot, i'm about to download the demo

on another note:

blindsheep is right, sarcasm does seem to be totally unpercievable by people with superhuman intellects and mind-boggling social skills (not to mention sense of humour), like Warren (!), and people are taking EGreg's posts far too seriously and failing to see that none of them actually insult the IOTD. but just to make sure, i'd recommend put the sarcasm mark (an exclamation mark in brackets) after sarcastic comments.

Like so: This IOTD is bollocks (!)

however it is getting pretty annoying now. can we have a forum moderator, please? i'd be happy to do it, i visit IOTD every day anyway.


January 04, 2001, 08:54 AM

Judging by the quality of your posts you're not very smart yourself.



January 04, 2001, 10:00 AM

I LOVED Elite and it looks like I'll love this work of art when it's finished. Always wanted someone to do another space Trader game that wasn't hogwash like Privateer.

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