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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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Author Topic: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?  (Read 2671 times)
LordJim
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How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« on: May 22, 2003, 07:00:05 am »

I've always wondered exactly how the SC2 universe came to be. (especially in such a small game) I'm guessing that the universe was created partially from randomly generated stars and systems due to the sheer quantity of them. The planet surfaces themselves seem to be created through a series of processes (similar to Photoshop filters on the fly?) that give each type of planet unique graphical attributes. (I can't figure out why they are the same every time the game is played if they are randomly generated. Perhaps they were rendered to a permanent bitmap from a randomly generated source. Or that actual predictable randomness is being used. (fractals)) The mineral frequency, size, and placement seems to be randomly assigned as well. (obviously dependant on type of planet) I'm guessing that some systems were put in by hand. (ie Rainbow worlds, Sol) It seems strange to me that the game can be so small if it has to store these thousands of planet bitmaps and millions of mineral locations. Not to mention save games. They are tiny. I'm guessing that this means that there are very clever ways to record mineral locations other than keeping track of every mineral individually. You can probably tag a planet as completely devoid of minerals instead of noting that each individual mineral is gone and then again if the entire system is. (form of compression) Maybe that would reduce save game size dramatically.

Anyone have an idea about the creation of this gigantic, yet small universe?
-Jim
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The_Ultimate_Evil
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2003, 09:05:53 am »

My guess is that there are a finite number of planet types assigned numbers, say 1-10.

When coding a planet they would assign it a number 1-10 for it's type, then have some line that designates how many of each minerals it has.

The location of the minerals and other things most likely is random.
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guesst
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2003, 11:10:59 am »

If you mean in the creation of the worlds that the minerals are randomly placed, true. However, game-to-game the minerals are actually in exactly the same spots every time.

Again, not an official report, but each planet probably has a table of each mineral, location, and whether it's still there or not.
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2003, 03:14:36 pm »

From looking at the source code, you can see that the planet type affects the mineral types directly, and also determines quantity ranges for them (not exact quantities).  The exact quantities and positions of minerals are probably randomized, but the random seed is probably fixed for each planet or depends on fixed attributes of the planet (like distance, orbit, temperature, or whatever).  That's only a guess though, I don't really know anything about programming.  Sad
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"Space cannot be measured. It cannot be angered, it cannot be placated. It cannot be summed up. Space is there.
"Space is not large and it is not small. It does not live and it does not die. It does not offer truth and neither does it lie.
"Space is a remorseless, senseless, impersonal fact."
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #4 on: May 22, 2003, 11:19:48 pm »

The locations of the stars were set by Paul so that he could cluster and designate stars in non-random ways.  But from there virtually all of the planetary systems and their planets, moons, minerals, and lifeforms were generated randomly.  Always from a consistent seed, though, which meant they could be exactly reproduced.

There were never more than 32 deposits of minerals or 32 individual life forms on any planet so that when you picked one up I just had to mark a bit in a 32 bit integer reflecting your collection of that item and that would get saved with a saved game.

Once the universe was set we would sprinkle in the story items (like the Aqua Helix, etc.) in places we found interesting.

Fred
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Megagun
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #5 on: May 22, 2003, 11:57:23 pm »

and how were the planets GFX done? again random-seed wize? or are they actually stored as pictures in a data file? (i dont believe so, looking at the file sizes..)
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LordJim
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #6 on: May 23, 2003, 12:33:19 am »

It's nice when you have questions about the formation of the universe and the force resposible for actually creating it answers them. I certainly wasn't expecting that. Smiley

Thanks again guys for the best game I've ever played and the primary reason I'm in a career in the gaming industry.

-Jim
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Re: How was the Starcon2 Universe created?
« Reply #7 on: May 23, 2003, 08:28:20 pm »

I tell you what. Every time I see a post from Fred Ford, my heart skipps a beat. I don't know what I'd do if ever I actually met the guy in RL.
I didn't even realize he was responding until half way through when he said "when you picked one up I just had to mark a bit...."
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