Orbiter V2 Wishlist?

onlycliches

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Afternoon Folks,

I'm an avid space nerd, I put countless hours into Orbiter back in the day. I remember being surprised the Space Shuttle couldn't reach orbit with infinite fuel!

KSP has been lots of fun too, the ability to throw rockets and space planes together is incredibly fun but it's too simplistic in many ways! (who else wishes for a vertical speed indicator in KSP?)

I've been finding that there's an itch I haven't been able to scratch with either of these (also tried Simple Rockets 2 for a while, it's surprisingly inaccessible and frustrating).

Being a software developer, I've started piecing together my "dream space sim", and the more I think about it the more I want to make the darn thing.

I'm nowhere near writing actual code, just still throwing ideas around to see if it's worth doing. Here are my current (work in progress) goals/ideas:
  1. Not going to use Unity, Unreal or Godot. I'll write it in Rust.
  2. Be truly cross platform (Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android). Recent software libraries have made this pretty easy.
  3. Implement soft body physics, calculated on the GPU. Obviously it wouldn't be as detailed/complex as Beam NG, but similar idea. This one is kind of a stretch goal, I think mobile GPUs are possibly in a place where you could pull this off, but maybe not.
  4. Orbital physics with fedelity in the same ball park as Orbiter 2016.
  5. I really like KSPs "throw parts together" mechanic, and I also really like the procedural parts from Simple Rockets 2. I'd like to combine these ideas with two separate build environments:
    1. "Construction": More complicated than Simple Rockets 2 builder, allows you to create aircraft/spacecraft with control down to the polygon level. If you were making a Falcon 9 in this system, you'd make each stage as a separate spacecraft.
    2. "Integration": Similar to KSP's builder, except even simpler. You'd have a selection of mostly built rockets / space craft you could combine, then launch.
  6. I really like Orbiter's MFD system, I'd probably extend it by allowing folks to write MFD add-ons in javascript.
  7. Native add-ons are a bit tricky, with cross platform support you'd have to compile each add-on for every platform. Add-ons via scripting with LUA or JS would be easy-peasy though.
  8. Graphics? Damnit Jim, I'm a software engineer not an artist.
  9. Lots of other stuff I can't remember right now.

All of this to say, if there were a magical "Orbiter V2" on the horizon what would you want included in it? I'd love to get feedback on the current idea list and anything you'd like to see in a potential clean sheet build of a space sim.

FAQs:
1. You know this is a huge project and will likely take years to accomplish, right?
Yep.

2. Why don't you just (some combination of KSP, add-ons and fiddling)?
Cause I don't wanna. Also KSP will never run on Linux, macOS, iOS or Android.
 

clipper

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y'know KSP also started out as an thread on O-F, so no pressure ;p

I really like KSPs "throw parts together" mechanic, and I also really like the procedural parts from Simple Rockets 2.
I'd love to see flexibility like this extended to solar systems - Orbiter already has this to an extent but implementing high-res planetary textures and terrain elevation from scratch isn't exactly straightforward (perhaps procedural generation for planetary bodies could be an option here - akin to one in Space Engine and Elite Dangerous?), and multiple-star systems aren't supported yet either. Exoplanet research is expanding quite a bit, so this could serve for more than just recreating purely fictional solar systems from our favorite games or space operas.

Add-ons via scripting with LUA or JS would be easy-peasy though.
If X-Plane is anything to go by, this would be more than enough. For reference, its add-ons were fairly limited both in terms of quantity and quality a decade or so ago due to its SDK being inaccessible for most users (cause C++ is scary) - until SASL dropped which allowed people to access pretty much all SDK functions with well-documented Lua scripting; the amount of add-ons from plugins to complex aircraft practically exploded after that.
 

pushkin

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(also tried Simple Rockets 2 for a while, it's surprisingly inaccessible and frustrating).
What do you say that? I think SR2 is the most accessible of them all. Vizzy is a wonderful tool for people like me who aren't programmers.
 

onlycliches

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What do you say that? I think SR2 is the most accessible of them all. Vizzy is a wonderful tool for people like me who aren't programmers.
There are certainly aspects of SR2 that are very accessible! The game feels overall clunky to me, and the aero physics feel quite a bit off. Glad to hear you're enjoying SR2!
 

onlycliches

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y'know KSP also started out as an thread on O-F, so no pressure ;p

That's the dream!

I'd love to see flexibility like this extended to solar systems - Orbiter already has this to an extent but implementing high-res planetary textures and terrain elevation from scratch isn't exactly straightforward (perhaps procedural generation for planetary bodies could be an option here - akin to one in Space Engine and Elite Dangerous?), and multiple-star systems aren't supported yet either. Exoplanet research is expanding quite a bit, so this could serve for more than just recreating purely fictional solar systems from our favorite games or space operas.

Like a planet builder? Interesting... I was thinking of developing something like this as an internal tool anyway.

If X-Plane is anything to go by, this would be more than enough. For reference, its add-ons were fairly limited both in terms of quantity and quality a decade or so ago due to its SDK being inaccessible for most users (cause C++ is scary) - until SASL dropped which allowed people to access pretty much all SDK functions with well-documented Lua scripting; the amount of add-ons from plugins to complex aircraft practically exploded after that.

I'll definitely have to check out X-Planes LUA SDK to see all the functions it supports! I came from web development, I think I'd prefer to see the scripting system done in Typescript/Javascript. This would probably make it more accessible for new programmers and require less documentation.
 

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All of this to say, if there were a magical "Orbiter V2" on the horizon what would you want included in it? I'd love to get feedback on the current idea list and anything you'd like to see in a potential clean sheet build of a space sim.
You do know Orbiter post 2016 has recently(in 2022) gone full open source that too using the MIT license on GitHub, right? It's possible for you to build your dream Orbiter v2 now. The process has already been started by Orbiter's founder and he continues to contribute to the repo and many other volunteers chip in too
 

pushkin

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There are certainly aspects of SR2 that are very accessible! The game feels overall clunky to me, and the aero physics feel quite a bit off. Glad to hear you're enjoying SR2!
Yeah. Physics wise it's a big mess, but as a game it's pretty fun imo.
 
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onlycliches

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You do know Orbiter post 2016 has recently(in 2022) gone full open source that too using the MIT license on GitHub, right? It's possible for you to build your dream Orbiter v2 now. The process has already been started by Orbiter's founder and he continues to contribute to the repo and many other volunteers chip in too
Yeah I saw that, pretty cool that Martin open sourced everything!

I'm not a C++ developer, and even if I was the delta between the starting feature list in the first post and Orbiter's current state is probably larger than the delta between a blank sheet and the starting feature list. In other words, it would probably take me far more effort to transform Orbiter into what I'd like from a space sim than to start fresh.
 

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One of Orbiter's greatest strengths is (to me) Scenario Editor. It's way easier to let your imagination run wild while building space stations in Orbiter than it is in KSP. I'd love to see that expanded upon in a "Orbiter V2".
 

onlycliches

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One of Orbiter's greatest strengths is (to me) Scenario Editor. It's way easier to let your imagination run wild while building space stations in Orbiter than it is in KSP. I'd love to see that expanded upon in a "Orbiter V2".
Interesting! I never thought of the scenario editor as a leading feature.

I do see folks in KSP using hyper edit to move things around the solar system, it makes sense having something like that built in. Excellent idea!
 

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Afternoon Folks,

I'm an avid space nerd, I put countless hours into Orbiter back in the day. I remember being surprised the Space Shuttle couldn't reach orbit with infinite fuel!

KSP has been lots of fun too, the ability to throw rockets and space planes together is incredibly fun but it's too simplistic in many ways! (who else wishes for a vertical speed indicator in KSP?)

I've been finding that there's an itch I haven't been able to scratch with either of these (also tried Simple Rockets 2 for a while, it's surprisingly inaccessible and frustrating).

Being a software developer, I've started piecing together my "dream space sim", and the more I think about it the more I want to make the darn thing.

I'm nowhere near writing actual code, just still throwing ideas around to see if it's worth doing. Here are my current (work in progress) goals/ideas:
  1. Not going to use Unity, Unreal or Godot. I'll write it in Rust.
  2. Be truly cross platform (Linux, macOS, Windows, iOS, Android). Recent software libraries have made this pretty easy.
  3. Implement soft body physics, calculated on the GPU. Obviously it wouldn't be as detailed/complex as Beam NG, but similar idea. This one is kind of a stretch goal, I think mobile GPUs are possibly in a place where you could pull this off, but maybe not.
  4. Orbital physics with fedelity in the same ball park as Orbiter 2016.
  5. I really like KSPs "throw parts together" mechanic, and I also really like the procedural parts from Simple Rockets 2. I'd like to combine these ideas with two separate build environments:
    1. "Construction": More complicated than Simple Rockets 2 builder, allows you to create aircraft/spacecraft with control down to the polygon level. If you were making a Falcon 9 in this system, you'd make each stage as a separate spacecraft.
    2. "Integration": Similar to KSP's builder, except even simpler. You'd have a selection of mostly built rockets / space craft you could combine, then launch.
  6. I really like Orbiter's MFD system, I'd probably extend it by allowing folks to write MFD add-ons in javascript.
  7. Native add-ons are a bit tricky, with cross platform support you'd have to compile each add-on for every platform. Add-ons via scripting with LUA or JS would be easy-peasy though.
  8. Graphics? Damnit Jim, I'm a software engineer not an artist.
  9. Lots of other stuff I can't remember right now.

All of this to say, if there were a magical "Orbiter V2" on the horizon what would you want included in it? I'd love to get feedback on the current idea list and anything you'd like to see in a potential clean sheet build of a space sim.

FAQs:
1. You know this is a huge project and will likely take years to accomplish, right?
Yep.

2. Why don't you just (some combination of KSP, add-ons and fiddling)?
Cause I don't wanna. Also KSP will never run on Linux, macOS, iOS or Android.
Universe simulator with it
 

Boxx

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Implement soft body physics, calculated on the GPU. Obviously it wouldn't be as detailed/complex as Beam NG, but similar idea. This one is kind of a stretch goal, I think mobile GPUs are possibly in a place where you could pull this off, but maybe not.

this video about soft body is impressive: an access to GPU (CUDA API for C++?) could be a game changer.

also, I remember some discussions about the collision modeling in Orbiter, that is implemented for contacts with the surfaces but not between vessels or buildings. I think such collision model would be a priority. It can start with:
  1. a simple(?) elastic collision (billiard balls) associated with a point of impact and an amount of energy. Then, it would be up to the vessel developer to take into account this information and maybe change the shape model, or even consider the vessel destroyed or depressurized or whatever...
  2. the change of shape/mesh model shall be allowed "on the fly" (animations do a great job but may be too limited for collision simulations)
as a summary for a V2: CUDA API, Extended collision model, modifiable shape models
 
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