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Dev Diary 8: Modding! By Ivan-Assen Ivanov from Haemimont Games
Haemimont Games has shipped a cool 15 games on various platforms, but not one of them has had official modding support. And modding was something Paradox wanted from the very beginning of the project. Games that welcome the players to join in the creation are loved more, played more, and live more, they said. What’s the point of partnering with a well-respected experienced publisher if you don’t heed what they say?
The bad news was that over the previous several games, the data loading process of our engine had been optimized in the opposite direction, to be as monolithic and economical as possible, to allow for minimal loading times. This had to be reversed, and many types of data can now be loaded in pieces, or late after the game has started, to allow for asset authoring and tested.
The good and much more important news was that our games are written in a mixture of two programming languages: C++ to handle the low-level stuff like graphics, audio and talking to the underlying hardware; Lua. Which allowed us to implement virtually everything you think of as "game", from the simulation logic of the colonists on Mars to the user interface that allows the player to control them. And Lua is not only much easier for modders to learn — it’s also easy to be loaded from different places, even when the game is running. We knew that we needed to give modders this ultimate power, to modify and add new Lua code to the game.
The overarching goal of the mod support is, in the words of Alan Kay, simple things should be simple, and complex things should be possible. For the simple part, we identified a handful of small but impactful changes to the game that can be implemented by anyone who’s not afraid of their computer. Mission Logos, for example, let you leave your imprint on every building of your colony. You only need to supply a simple, transparent PNG file
“Surviving Mars from Haemimont Games is a true triumph, and represents a game I’ve been yearning for for years.”
“You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great — and that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about. It’s about believing in the future and thinking that the future will be better than the past. And I can’t think of anything more exciting than going out there and being among the stars.”
— Elon Musk, CEO and Lead Designer, SpaceX
On September 29th, 2017, SpaceX CEO and Lead Designer Elon Musk presented an updated vehicle design for what’s currently being referred to as BFR. A key challenge with the original vehicle design was figuring out how to pay for it. The updated design solves this problem by leveraging a slightly smaller vehicle that can service all greater Earth orbit needs as well as the Moon and Mars. This single system—one booster and one ship—will eventually replace Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon. By creating a single system that can service a variety of markets, SpaceX can redirect resources from Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon to the BFR system—which is fundamental in making BFR affordable.
Our aspirational goal is to send our first cargo mission to Mars in 2022. The objectives for the first mission will be to confirm water resources and identify hazards along with putting in place initial power, mining, and life support infrastructure. A second mission, with both cargo and crew, is targeted for 2024, with primary objectives of building a propellant depot and preparing for future crew flights. The ships from these initial missions will also serve as the beginnings of our first Mars base, from which we can build a thriving city and eventually a self-sustaining civilization on Mars.
BFR will enter the Mars atmosphere at 7.5 kilometers per second and decelerate aerodynamically. The vehicle’s heat shield is designed to withstand multiple entries, but given that the vehicle is coming into the Mars atmosphere so hot, we still expect to see some ablation of the heat shield (similar to wear and tear on a brake pad). The engineering videos below simulate the physics of Mars entry for BFR.
An important question we have to answer is “how do we pay for this system?” The answer lies in creating a single system that can support a variety of mission types. In turn, SpaceX can redirect resources from Falcon 9, Falcon Heavy and Dragon to this system.
International Space Station Missions
With BFR, most of what people consider to be long distance trips would be completed in less than half an hour. In addition to vastly increased speed, one great thing about traveling in space is there is almost no friction. Once the ship leaves the atmosphere, there is no turbulence or weather. Consider how much time we currently spend traveling from one place to another. Now imagine most journeys taking less than 30 minutes, with access to anywhere in the world in an hour or less.
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Dev Diary 8: Modding! By Ivan-Assen Ivanov from Haemimont Games Haemimont Games has shipped a cool 15 games on various platforms, but not one of them has had official modding support.
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