What is Evochron? Introduction and Information...

Tips, tactics, and general discussion for Evochron Mercenary and Evochron Legacy.

What is Evochron? Introduction and Information...

Postby Vice » Wed May 06, 2015 5:16 pm

What is Evochron? And what is it not?

I am occasionally asked questions like this, so I' thought I'd provide some answers here for those interested. This post will also provide some basic information and links to helpful resources about the game. The game's website also provides some additional information.


What Evochron Is

Gameplay

- Evochron is a tightly focused technical flight 'space-sim' with options and gameplay specifically geared toward that objective. As a technical space flight simulation, it focuses on what flying and managing a spacecraft as a lone-wolf pilot might be like in the future. The game is about space -flight- and what it might theoretically be like to fly a small to medium sized spacecraft in the distant future through sparsely populated systems in a large region of the galaxy. If something doesn't relate to the player being in control and flying their spacecraft nearly 100% of the time they play, it won't likely be in the game. Activities include computer arranged mission/contract objectives, player arranged objectives, player selected ship configurations, player designed weapons, player selected crafting, and many elements of environmental exploration, flight physics nuances, and interaction. Even activities done inside stations and on the surface of planets will ultimately be linked to effects and benefits applied to the player's ship and their management of it. So you can think of the game as more of a space flight-sim that is focused on the pilot and their skills at flying, combat, navigating, trade, and exploring along with their ability to expand their ship's capabilities in those elements, rather than anything else. Evochron's focus is on the elements of piloting spacecraft and the complexities, challenges, and rewards that go along with it while exploring a vast 'seamless' style universe in which you can fly to and interact with planets, moons, asteroids, and nebula clouds you see around you. If the basic idea of travelling to a distant world by flying there manually, descending into its atmosphere, then watching a sunrise on its surface does not appeal to you, then this may not be the game for you. Sure, there are plenty of combat (another prioritized element) and non-combat gameplay activities to do, but the focus is on the simulation aspect of managing a complex spacecraft in the realm of space.

- In conjunction with the space flight sim focus is combat. Evochron is also largely a space combat simulator, so you'll find much of its gameplay focuses on that objective as well. Since space combat inherently includes a player's ability to pilot their spacecraft, it has been given much of the gameplay focus. And that focus is done within the context of the game's detailed flight model and relatively complex control systems. So if you don't enjoy Newtonian style flight controls and fairly complex weapon systems within the realm of space combat, this may not be the game for you. If you enjoy the challenge and diversity such elements provide in the realm of space combat, then you may enjoy this game a lot.

- Another significant gameplay element is station and city building. The building system is designed to be an option for facilitating the expansion of one of the two main faction's control in various regions of space. The focus is on building resource centers that can be used to equip, repair, reload, refuel, rearm, resupply, design (weapons and equipment), store ships/items, and bring in reinforcements. These benefits are a way to further a faction's cause in the large scope war effort condition presented in the game. However, building can also be used to place important resource points in exploration if a player ventures out into uncharted space and/or wants to expand their faction's control in those areas as well. All station and city structures in the game, including default ones, are destructible and can be replaced by new ones built by the player. While important for the reasons listed above, building also remains a focused gameplay element to provide benefits directly to the player and their ship, rather than any kind of business simulation.

- Within the primary space flight simulation framework are numerous gameplay options and activities available to the player. These include racing, spying, mining, trading, commodity shipping, escorting, combat (both in civilian space and military war zones), exploring (shipwrecks, data drives, discovering new uncharted systems, etc), asteroid clearing, solar equipment cleaning, emergency distress call response, equipment crafting, weapon crafting, crew management, station/city building, and ship designing. There are many ways to make money and advance in the game within the main context of space flight simulation.

- Evochron is designed to be a 'get-to-the-point' space flight simulation game. Contracts/jobs/missions are available in one common menu (within the inventory console), they can be reviewed and selected with just a few clicks. The objectives are designed to be local and quick to access. So you won't have to walk around on foot, creep through a slow docking procedure, or shuffle through layers of menus/lists to get to available objectives. Availability is immediate and waypoint accessibility kept in close proximity.


User Interface, Menus, and Navigation

- The approach to gameplay matches how the menus and UI operate as a whole as well. Menus generally have all important functions available in one layer, rather than having to toggle through different levels of menu trees to get to important/core options. This does mean that there can be a lot of information and buttons on each menu display, but as you learn where things are, you'll likely find the fast one-click access to important functions/options handy.

- Evochron incorporates a full precision open space 3D navigation system. Instead of just navigating to/through vague icon points (such as just travelling to a star or other 'zone' region), Evochron's navigation system uses precise and selectable 3D nav points for travel, contract waypoints, and object locations on a common/unified map interface. This lets you as the player precisely select where to go for any object or location in space displayed on the nav map. You set the nav/jump point and can then travel exactly there. You also don't have to manage two separate menus for available objects-of-interest, everything is kept in a single nav map console menu that provides precise destination point selection. So for example, if you want to arrive to the right side of a station, you can set a waypoint directly there, then engage the autopilot or jump drive to arrive exactly there.

- The game's nav system also lets you store and retrieve points of interest, rather than being limited to only static points of interest in a menu list. So if you find a hidden shipwreck or cargo container, you can set a nav point to its location and then save it in your nav map log for future reference. Then if/when you want to return to that location, you can right click on its icon (or select it from the map log list) to quickly plot a nav point back to it.

- In conjunction with the precision navigation system is the point-to-point jump drive. Following the design goal objective of 'get to the point' gameplay, the jump drive system in the game features a folding space point-to-point travel approach. This lets you quickly set a precise point to jump to and then travel there quickly when in range, without having to wait for long travel sequences. There is still a longer step by step approach for very long distance travel to provide a moderate sense of scale, but getting from one station to another in the same system can take just a few seconds, rather than having to wait through long travel durations. When combined with the precision navigation system, you can also arrive precisely at a destination where you want to be (and select), rather than risking a fly-by and missing your destination or arriving only in the general area.


Heads-Up-Display and Combat Information Systems

- The game's display systems have been designed with gunsight focused information presentation in true fighter pilot fashion, including the current target indicator which provides details to the player without them having to look away at a separate display. As much information as feasible is displayed on the central HUD gunsight and directly on the target being tracked, rather than scattering it all over the screen. The reason this is done is basically the same as it is for modern jet fighters, keeping the pilot's visual focus in the smallest region possible for the most efficient rate of gathering and processing information.

- None of the primary target information or ship status information requires the player to look away at the side of the screen, in a corner, or on a separate display. This is one of the design goals of Evochron's combat display systems. In any combat gameplay scenario where the focus is putting a target near the middle of the screen for attacks, it's important to never force the player to have to look away from that focal point to retrieve important information about their flight conditions and ship/weapon status.


Interactive Universe

- The game's design also sets out to provide realistic environment interaction far beyond the genre's typical 'background wallpaper' or 'view only' approaches. Nebula clouds, asteroid fields, planet atmospheres, moons, and more all provide unique options for shelter and strategy. Such environment elements include changes in gravity, fuel consumption, physics, sensor range, and visibility. When you see a planet come into view, it's an object you can access and land on, rather than just being a wallpaper image or a giant 'space mine' that destroys you if you dare get to close. And reachable objects in the game's universe are also available without interrupting cut scene transitions or separate 'sharded' modes within the game's universe. While in their spacecraft in multiplayer for example, players remain in the same consistent universe whether they are on a planet, in a nebula cloud, in a gas giant, near a star, in an asteroid cave, or in open space. This means players can chase each other or be chased by AI ships consistently when going from open space to a planet and vice versa in the game's universe.


Flight Simulation, Control, and Physics

- Evochron supports keyboard, mouse, gamepad, and joystick flight control with dedicated modes designed for each input system. Evochron's Global Control System (GCS) aims to provide consistent control behavior regardless of the input device being used by adapting signals from the selected device to a unified flight control architecture. Evochron's flight control system also supports up to 10 simultaneous control devices for more advanced HOTAS, rudder, and control panel capabilities.

- The game features realistic zero gravity inertia based 'Newtonian' style flight model including complete 3 axis rotation and 3 axis direction control with optional variable input. An advanced inertial dampening system helps keep flight control simple in space, atmospheres, and gravity fields. Physics systems also take into account mass (including additions for cargo), thrust, and vector calculations.

- While Evochron is primarily a space flight simulation, it also includes elements of gravitational and atmospheric flight simulation. The game sets out to simulate what piloting a future spacecraft would be like using hypothetical control systems, rather than attempting to emulate modern aircraft, including when in atmospheres. So gamers coming from a more traditional flight simulation background will likely encounter effects and control behavior that is significantly different compared to what they might be used to in current flight simulation games. Spacecraft in Evochron have a variety of computer assisted flight systems designed to give the pilot a consistent and predictable level of control, even in environments where flight conditions are impacted by outside forces such as gravity and wind. Spacecraft in Evochron do not behave as airplanes do today. They don't even have ailerons, rudders, or elevators. Their flight system is entirely controlled by thrusters. These thrusters are powerful enough to compensate for a variety of different factors. They can hold a ship in place relative to a gravitational pull (hindering the accelerative effect of a gravity field) and also hold a ship's position when subject to consistent wind. So a moderate directional wind or gravitational pull will have little to no effect on a player's ship (a slight drift may be noticeable when hovering over terrain, but it will be very minimal). The ship's control systems work to keep it where the pilot puts it and counter outside effects that would otherwise cause the spacecraft to drift/rotate at much greater levels. One exception to this capability is an extreme weather condition causing sudden bursts of wind at such strong levels, the ship's thruster system can't compensate for them. These wind bursts can come from just about any direction and have a variety of pitch/yaw effects when they strike your ship. It's generally not very predictable and is similar to a ball (spacecraft enclosed in spherical shield arrays) being thrown about by random wind gusts. So some high wind gusts will have an effect and the player may need to compensate for them or use the autopilot if they want to fly in a consistent direction.


Unified Single Player and Multiplayer Gameplay and Save Game Architecture

- Most options in the game are designed to function in the same ways and provide the same gameplay in both single player and multiplayer. What players can do in single player is generally the same in multiplayer and what they earn can be carried over from one to the other without having to start over. So for example, if a player acquires a new ship in multiplayer, they can keep it and take it with them when switching over to single player. This provides options that aren't generally found in the genre, such as a pilot getting lost in deep space in single player being able to connect in multiplayer for rescue by another player.

Even the game's multiplayer system has been designed to behave much like the single player mode to achieve this level of interchangeability and gameplay consistency. The multiplayer mode simply incorporates human piloted ships where there would otherwise be computer controlled ships along with other, more minor differences. The game handles the adaptation of various gameplay and ship systems for multiplayer internally by managing gamestate, sharing status/condition data, and establishing available options between players. A 'flight lead' role is assigned when needed to a player by the multiplayer system to help synchronize to and manage various elements for other nearby players and such connections/interlinking can be done throughout the game's universe as needed wherever players might group together. Players can choose to play for a different faction while in multiplayer without their actions impacting the territory and build conditions of the universe they play in while in single player.

For both modes, when you save your progress, it's stored in a save game that can be played in either mode. Only the universe you play in (built structures, territory control status, economy status, stored items, etc) is unique to the mode you play in (and in the case of multiplayer, also the server you play on). Your ship, ranking, wealth, equipment, weapons, and onboard cargo are preserved for both gameplay modes, so you don't have to give up what you've earned when switching to a different mode. You can load what you've earned in either mode.

To help preserve progress in the game, respawn points can be set by players, selected by when/where they choose to save. And there are no 'perma-death' or forced costs for restoration of the player's ship, wealth, or equipment (only a low fee for cargo restoration may apply under certain conditions in multiplayer). So if a player is destroyed, they can respawn at their last selected save point and completely restore their ship, wealth, and equipment. This allows the player to have a measure of tactical control over their level of risk when formulating gameplay decisions. It also allows players to freely engage in PvP combat in multiplayer without the risk of losing what they earn in these areas, which can help to reduce the effects of unwanted griefing or interference from other players. The game's multiplayer system also does not require involvement in a public environment for those interested in only playing with people they know (more details below).


Open Direct IP and LAN Multiplayer

- Evochron's multiplayer system is 'open', meaning that anyone can run a server to host multiplayer sessions with. A server program is included with the game for those interested in hosting a multiplayer session. The benefits of Evochron's multiplayer system include the ability to play the game privately without any dependency on outside internet servers. Players can set up multiplayer servers using either direct IP or LAN for private gameplay with friends and family they know and enjoy playing with. There is no requirement to play publically among anonymous players nor have multiplayer elements be interdependent with such players. The game can also be played exclusively offline in single player without the need to check in with an internet server. So there are no online account or login dependencies for those using the direct download version of the game and multiplayer is managed directly by players.


Full Offline Single Player Support

- Evochron is offline single player capable. Everything the game needs to launch and play is kept local to your computer. So you can play the game entirely offline in its single player mode if you want to. There are no online account dependencies for gameplay for the direct download version of the game. Obviously, if you purchase the game through a reseller that uses an online account system, your copy of the game will be linked to your account with that service. For the game itself though, you can play entirely offline on a compatible desktop/laptop that doesn't even have internet access, if/when you want to.



What Evochron Is Not

Gameplay

- Since Evochron is a sandbox game, it is not a narrative based game. This means that it's up to you as the player to choose the path of gameplay for success or failure. Not just in a pathway and not just in a fixed set of story plot points. But in almost every facet of gameplay, the choice is up to you as to when, where, and why. Some gamers like this approach, some do not. The game's intended design is one of a space combat flight simulation first with many individual smaller activities to perform as part of an overall freeform sandbox structure. If you expect the game to guide you every step of the way to make up a story for you or tell you a story, you should probably look elsewhere for a different space game. If you are looking for a game that gives you a framework from which you can develop your own sequence of events based on your choices, performance, interests, and abilities, then this might be a game for you.

- Since Evochron is a focused space flight simulation game, it is not a people sim, alien sim, run-n-gun shooter, business sim, political sim, social network, or industrial sim. While the game includes building elements, such options aren't designed to provide corporation/business type benefits. Stations and cities are not small convenience stores players plant from which they will profit. Instead, they are more of a for profit installation and supply depot designed to benefit their faction as a collective whole in the effort to conquer the opposing faction. A big part of the game's intended design is to avoid automated money generators that lack active gameplay on the part of the player. So being able to just sit and let the game run by itself to generate money is specifically excluded. Earning money in the game generally requires actions on the player's part without providing non-gameplay residuals by design. This approach is true of building and many other available options. Some automated options are available, such as mining probes and single player fleet ships, but the net result still offers the most profitable option(s) with active gameplay on the player's part.


Overall Design and Development

- I don't make mainstream games. By most accounts, SW3DG titles are 'niche' games with a particular focus on their approach to gameplay, options, graphics, and sound. I'm an indie developer with a limited budget, limited development resources, and limited time. I don't set out to make games for everyone and I don't want to. I make games that I enjoy creating, supporting, and playing. And what I make will not appeal to everyone, maybe not even most. So it's helpful to read about the game and try the free demo to learn about what it offers to see if it's a good fit for you before you buy it. That'll hopefully help make sure you don't spend money on something you won't enjoy.


Evochron Legacy Demo

- One of the options for checking out Evochron is the demo. I provide a free demo for you to try before you commit to buying the game. Why? Because I want the same option myself when I'm considering buying a game, it helps eliminate potential compatibility related issues, insures the game plays well on a system, and lets you sample the game to see if it's the kind of thing you'd actually enjoy. All before you pay a penny for it. I believe the game is good enough, for those interested in such a game, to present itself before you've paid any money for it. If you find the game doesn't offer want you want or expect, great, then you aren't out any money for it and you can move on to something else that might interest you. If you do find the game offers what you want/expect, great, it's available and you've confirmed in sample form that it runs the way you want and plays the way you want before you've paid anything for it. And in that case, it will probably make a nice addition to your space-sim library.


Distances and Velocities

Here is an overview of the velocity and distance factors used in the game, which are all metric based. Most values are in meters, however velocities use decimeter values for higher precision while in-sector coordinates use decameter values so they are more manageable in the navigation console. Here is the overview:

Velocity = Decimeters (meters X 10) for higher precision, so 1000 indicated is 100 meters per second
In-Sector Coordinates = Decameters (meters / 10) so 100 coordinate units (CU) equals 1000 meters
Navigation Marker Range = Meters (so 1000 meters indicated range = 100 decameters coordinate distance)
Target MFD and Indicator Ranges = Meters
Radar/Sensor Ranges = Meters

The 1/10 decameter values are used for in-sector coordinates (nav map) to help keep things a little more manageable for manual entry and visual reference, rather than have to sort through million level values. The 10X decimeter values are used for velocities for higher precision.


Evochron Legacy More Information and Resources

- Here are some important links to other useful resources:
Features of Evochron Legacy: http://www.starwraith.com/evochronlegacy/about.htm
Frequently Asked Questions and Basic Support Issues: http://www.starwraith.com/evochronlegacy/faq.htm
Differences Between Evochron Legacy and Evochron Mercenary (Plus Development/Design Information): http://www.starwraith.com/evochronlegac ... opment.htm
Evochron Legacy's GCS (Global Flight Control System): viewtopic.php?f=26&t=11271
Guidelines for Requests and Suggestions: viewtopic.php?f=27&t=12072
Save Data Files and Information: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=3433
Crash Causes and Solutions: viewtopic.php?f=26&t=6595


- Training Videos:
Navigation Console: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJK85clxFhQ
Build Console: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4IdWHDf-5Nc
Ship Control and Physics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OcrX8MFGmWc
Space Combat, Weapon Systems, and Target Tracking Systems: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rd7VdKMVEGM
StarWraith 3D Games
www.starwraith.com | www.spacecombat.org
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