Alpha 3 DevBlog: Piloting update


Today, we’ll be looking at the new piloting changes arriving in Alpha 3. Being such a major aspect of Dual Universe's gameplay, we feel that these changes will have the utmost positive impact on all players.

New Mouse Control Schemes

Currently, there are several issues with the piloting system in Dual Universe: players can only manage a limited number of different views, maneuvering and strafing are unsatisfying, and controlling speed with either the mouse wheel or pressing the R and T keys can be clunky and unintuitive for new players.

To address these issues, we’ve completely revamped the piloting control system with brand new mouse controls, which come in two different flavours: direct control, and virtual joystick. Of course, these are in addition to the current keyboard controls, which are still in the game. With the direct control scheme, which is currently a work-in-progress for the Alpha 3 release, the player moves their mouse to turn the construct, but when they stop moving it, the construct will stop.


The brand new mouse controls in motion

The virtual joystick control scheme, on the other hand, works relative to the mouse cursor’s position; stopping mouse movement will leave the cursor in place and keep the construct moving. Unlike the direct control scheme, which are better suited for ‘twitchier’ or ground vehicles, the virtual joystick works better with much larger, heavier constructs.

We hope that these new additional control schemes will make flying more fun, and improve control whether you’re piloting an agile fighter ship ready for battle, or a heavy-duty tanker delivering cargo to a planetary depot. 

Cruise control

Cruise control is a new mode of controlling dynamic constructs. It is very useful for precise maneuvering and intuitive trajectory, especially in space.

In cruise control, the player no longer controls the throttle of his engines, but rather the target velocity he or she wants to reach. The construct automatically activates engines to reach this velocity. The ship will also use all engines and brakes available to nullify drift.

The player can toggle between the previous control mode (which we will be referring to as ‘travel mode’) and cruise control while piloting by pressing Alt+R, or by clicking on the appropriate button in the interface.

Cruise control will be a real boon for space constructs. If you stick enough engines or brakes to counteract drift, space ships can be piloted way more intuitively thanks to it, and this will allow precise flight navigation. Cruise control is available to all kinds of constructs, from flying spaceships to hovercrafts, and works will all control schemes: keyboard control, direct mouse control, and virtual joystick mouse control.

Engineering report

The engineering report is a new system in Alpha 3 that allows the player to view additional diagnostic information pertinent to their construct’s performance. In build mode, three new buttons will appear and if you click on them, the per-element-type reports will appear.

In this mode, you can also hover over or select one of the elements on your ship in the list to find it in 3D. The hover feedback will disappear when you close ‘Enhanced HUD Mouse’ mode, while the selection feedback will stay. 

From the report, you can also right-click an element and perform actions on it like you would right-clicking it in the 3D view. These figures will update in real time, and the report even works in piloting mode!

Diagnostic display

Another helpful display is the piloting diagnostic display, which can showcase the direction of velocity, as well as the direction of either torque or force depending on the type of engine used in the construct. As this is for debugging purposes, the visuals representing these types of thrust are privy to change in future releases. To bring up the diagnostic display, simply press the X key to cycle through the different display modes.

Changes in Lua

We’ve added some awesome new Lua scripting functionality in regard to piloting. First off, the popup windows displaying the Lua parameters and allowing you to change them will now display them in the order of discovery (i.e. the order that the programmer intended) instead of alphabetical order. Also if there are some comments next to the parameter declaration in the Lua code, it will be used as tooltip in the popup windows:

We’ve also expanded the Lua API with the inclusion of control checks (for example, to check which mouse control system is selected, or whether a construct is remote controlled), or the ability to control headlights and landing gear more easily. By default, players can now control all the gears by pressing the G key and headlights by pressing SHIFT+L. The default code that comes with control units can also be tweaked.

This month is obviously a busy time at our studio as we gear up toward Alpha 3, but we’ll be covering all the latest features to expect in that update in the coming weeks!

The Novaquark team