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Devblog #52 - Warp 2.0

As we’ve mentioned last week, it’s time to talk a bit more about the overhaul of the warp mechanics and what we hope these will bring to the table. So grab that coffee machine, ready your favourite mug and make sure that gravity is turned on. Spilling coffee in space is no laughing matter…

 

Warp drive is the primary means of travel in the Hellion system and is used to quickly travel across vast distances that would take hours and even using conventional propulsion. While no object with mass may travel at or faster than the speed of light, space-time itself can. Well technically it doesn’t actually “travel” but rather it can “extend and contract” faster than the speed of light. Warp drive works by encasing a vessel inside a bubble of warped space-time that shrinks in front of the ship and extends behind it. This way the vessel doesn’t actually move at FTL speeds and is instead “carried” by the space-time bubble to its destination.

 

Now that science behind it is out of the way, what are the improvements we are talking about and more importantly how will they affect Hellion’s overall gameplay.

 

Warp Tiers and Emergency Warp

 

There are now 5 warp tiers, compared to only 3 in the previous versions. These are: Emergency Warp then Warp 1, 2, 3 and 4. Warp tier is determined by the tier of the installed Singularity Cell Detonator. If there is no Detonator, the ship will only be able to use Emergency Warp, or Warp E as we’ve come to call it. It only requires power from the capacitor in order to activate allowing ships to execute a warp maneuver without an installed Detonator or any Warp Cells. The tradeoff is that it is exceptionally slow compared to all other Warp tiers and is meant to be used, as the name implies, only in emergency situations.

 

Other warp tiers are unlocked by installing an appropriate tier Detonator in the ship’s warp drive. Tier 1 detonator provides access to Warp 1, while a tier 4 will provide access to all 4. Each Warp has its own cost in both power and warp cell consumption, with faster warps consuming more energy and resources but allowing players to travel significantly faster.

 

Mass and Warp Cell consumption

 

Up until now we’ve imposed an artificial limit on the maximum number of modules players could take with them into warp. This was never a proper solution and led to a number of inconsistencies and gameplay issues, such as a situation where a small Bulkhead or an Industrial Container had the same “value” as a fully stocked Cargo Bay or a Power Supply.

 

This is no longer the case as the amount of modules you can carry and fuel usage is now directly tied to the total mass. Maximum “extra mass” you can bring with you is now affected by the mass of the ship that you are using and the installed Detonator tier. As an example Steropes that weighs a little under 500t will be able to carry less mass compared to Arges (1700t) with the same tier Detonator.

 

Note that we used the term “extra mass”. This is the additional mass your ship can carry with it into warp and it will exponentially increase its Warp Cell consumption based on how close you are to the mass limit. While Arges may have a larger base Warp Cell consumption due to higher mass, it can also tow a heavier load and do so more fuel efficiently due to its more powerful warp drive, making it ideal for relocating large bases. Steropes remains faster and more maneuverable but is not nearly as efficient when it comes to carrying things. This also means that a higher tier detonator will still be beneficial even if you do not use a higher speed warp, as it will increase the extra mass limit.


 

It is also worth mentioning that Warp E barely handles the mass of the ship and cannot be used to tow any additional modules. So before you try to move your base around make sure to upgrade your ship with at least a T1 Detonator and some Warp Cells.

 

Finally we’ve also added “base” warp cell consumption for all warp tiers (Warp E excluded) in addition to the “standard” consumption based on travel time. This base cost is the minimum amount of fuel necessary to initiate a maneuver and is unique for each Warp tier. What this means in practice is that using Warp 1 is more fuel efficient when moving over short distances compared to Warp 4. However Warp 4 will be much more efficient when traveling between planets. You can still travel over any distance using any warp, but it may consume more fuel.

 

Warp Cell tiers

 

Speaking of fuel, in order to balance fuel usage and mass we have introduced multiple tiers for all Warp Cells. Higher tier cells provide exponentially more fuel and are also harder to find and more expensive to fabricate. Combined with mass and warp speed changes, higher tier cells should offer greater flexibility and make moving around a bit easier for players that invest time and resources into obtaining them.

 

 

New Warp Visuals

 

Of course all of these changes wouldn’t be complete without a complete visual overhaul of the actual warp effect. Our goal here was to make Warp drive feel visually appealing while maintaining immersion and realism that Hellion is known for. The image below is still a work in progress and we will be adding subtle changes and tweaks to the effect as we move into the final stages of this update.

 

 

Well that is all for today. We hope you’ve find this information interesting and would love to hear your thoughts on all of the Warp Drive changes. So let us know what you think in the comments below and stay tuned for information regarding Scanning 2.0 that is also planned for this update.

 

Until next time, fly safe!

Posted by Zero Gravity team