Orbital Fleet Behavior

This blog post is a bit different than usual – instead of talking about a major new game mechanic, I’d like to instead take a quick – but in-depth – look at something relatively minor, but that I thought was interesting. I will, of course, continue to write regular-style blog posts as well.

In Starsector, fleets will often orbit a planet for some time – trade fleets offloading cargo, patrols preparing for duty, and so on. The orbits of some well-to-do colonies can get quite crowded, with fleets overlapping each other and being difficult to pick out. This isn’t a huge problem in terms of game mechanics, but it’s still occasionally inconvenient and just messy to look at.


The other day, encountering a particularly egregious case, I wrote a quick algorithm for the fleet AI to use to avoid overlapping other orbiting fleets  as much as possible.
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The Circle Can’t Be Trusted: Drawing Battlestations

Or: Round stations & the pitfalls of trilateral symmetry, a followup to Zen and the Art of Battlestation Construction

Herein we shall examine in detail the process of creating the Battlestation sprites. There’s gonna be a lot of Photoshop talk, so be warned. Here’s a taste of what a mess my station file is, perhaps revealing a little too much about how I actually work:


Very poor layer naming discipline and related sins on display, for sure. But that aside, let’s start much simpler with a little talk about something we call composition. I’m going to take a classic ship and break down how composition is operating on various scales. Then, using the methodology explored in that process, we can examine how I built the composition of an orbital station sprite. Then I’ll talk about a bunch of random non-pixel art techniques which may be found useful for drawing large station sprites.

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Zen and the Art of Battlestation Construction

Tactical combat involving battlestations is a logical extension of the REDACTED BY HEGEMONY COMSEC most players are already well aware of despite dire warnings to avoid them from our benevolent protectors. Stations are also part of the colony-building features Alex has discussed recently, though I can’t make comment on how precisely they will play into the higher-level simulation.

However it’s going to work, we’re definitely going to need some enormous space-fortresses bristling with guns and danger. Someone is going to have to draw these things and figure out how all the pieces go together!


So let’s talk about how we developed a design for these things!

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