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NSS and Star Ship Tracker!
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Steelpimp
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:31 am    Post subject: NSS and Star Ship Tracker! Reply with quote

What is it?

What does it do?

When can I start beta testing it?
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Dan
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Congratulations on the first SST post! (Goose tried, but I cut him off at the knees!)

Well, first off, StarShip Tracker (SST) is a utility (not a game), much like the HM series of programs. It'll be a combination mapping program/ship database. It'll be open for use by any sci-fi campaign out there, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 4, Traveller, Battletech and Robotech (as well as any homespun campaigns). I'm looking at offering it for $22.

(New Star Software (NSS) is the name of the production company I started to market SST.)

The mapping part will allow the user to create up to ~25,000 objects, ranging from stars, nebulae, nav points, space bouys, wormholes, boundaries, space lanes, etc. The utility will have two tabs for maps: one will be 2D, and will look like a standard paper map. (For Battletechers, think of Oystein's map of the Inner Sphere.) The 3D map will be allow for the Z coordinate, and will be manipulated by your mouse, so you can change your perspective. Both maps will allow you to zoom in and out, and the 2D map is printable. The 3D map will allow users to import actual 3D meshes for their ships.

The ship database will interact directly with the mapping part. Like the map database, up to 25,000 ships can be entered. These ships can be identified as friendly, enemy, allied, civilian and unknown. Even fleets will be represented. Each class of ship that a user designs can have basic information that will act in concert with the map (i.e. is a buoy within sensor range?), and time will be tracked, both forwards and backwards. What this means is you can tell Ship A to depart Terra on Day 1 for Alpha Centauri at 13x the speed of light. SST will tell you that the trip will take 17 days at that speed. As you move up the days, you can see your ship at an appropriate point between Terra and Alpha Centauri. As you add more ships, you can even set interception courses, where Ship A will automatically adjust course based upon Ship B's course and speed.

Thanks to the beta team's ideas, the ship will also allow for jump points, either by tech on the ship or via external tech (stargates) or natural objects (wormholes). The databases will be exportable, so that people can build their own 'universes' and share them with others.

The program actually has a lot more to it than the above three paragraphs suggest, but that about sums it up for now.

At this point, we are well into the design phase of the program, and graphical coding is nearing completion. The next phase is to start the coding of the utility itself. So far, the design beta team has not seen anything other than a few mockup pictures of the program and a whole slew of design threads.

The program is a concept I've been looking for for several years and in an act of frustration, I decided to produce the program myself and defray the development costs by selling it. I've limited the betatesting to whom I have on-hand now, so that I can manage all aspects myself (programming, design, testing, web page), and still do my primary job (as a US Navy ship router). In fact, SST was inspired by a Navy program called Joint METOC Viewer (JMV), where ships are represented on various days between their points of departure and arrival, with forecasted weather conditions indicated for each ship.

If you have any questions, please ask. I'm really pumped about getting this program for myself, and would love to talk about it.


Last edited by Dan on Tue Jun 17, 2003 2:53 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 7:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So...is your first project for it going to be a map of the Inner sphere?
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Laughing

Actually, no...it'll be the real local stars, as a free 'starter' database for the program.

After that, on my own time and for my own use, it'll be the stars in the Star Trek book Star Charts by Geoffrey Mandel.

At first, I actually wanted to limit the program, so as to not interfere with Rick's forthcoming HMMap, another inspiration for SST. But Rick, along with Longwalker, Medron Pryde and Oystein all thought that SST should be able to import other star chart coords (using the Inner Sphere project as an example). So...if the Inner Sphere isn't ready by release, it will be shortly after.

BTW, there will be a place to download other star databases from users, similar to Rick's file forum.
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 10:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I've been shooting for it to be able to load the various spreadsheet coordinate files we have out here...I'm really hoping it works to do that...if so....there WILL be maps made for this.....hehehe
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 1:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds cool......I was kinda nervous about the $120.95 on the "Add to Cart" page......$22 sounds much better.... Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 2:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah...thanks for the reminder. I need to get that fixed. It was a demo for my benefit by the NSS webmaster.

Too many people nosing around the site nowadays. I don't want them to get the wrong idea. 8)
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Anytime.... Wink
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 17, 2003 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You know, I have all the stars in BT already charted and in a mysql database.

I also have jump lanes we came up with calculated, though some are custom, otherwise certain planets would be isolated.
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

hehehe...I've got a set of excel spreadsheets also exported into txt format with all of the worlds...only missing the newest worlds just added on the 3067 map....got to add them.....
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 4:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Longwalker wrote:
You know, I have all the stars in BT already charted and in a mysql database.

I also have jump lanes we came up with calculated, though some are custom, otherwise certain planets would be isolated.


I'm a bit clueless about SQL, but since I've wanted SST to support the creation of boundaries and spacelanes, I'd thnk it'd be possible to have the jump lanes recognized as well.

The question would be, how would importing several different criteria allow SST to recognize what's what. Default, obviously, would be stars....if it has text, followed by two or three sets of numbers, assume the text is a star and the sets are XY and Z coords. How would it differentiate between stars and spacelanes within the same imported file?
Not looking for an answer, just postulating.

Actual question: when you say jump lanes, do you mean 30 ly radius, or up to 30 ly lines?

(Since we're down to betatesters in this thread, maybe this should be moved to that forum for tracking's sake.)
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 18, 2003 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK,

I know Fasa came up with the 30 LY rule, but too many planets are way outside the 30 lightyear jump distance, so we have "lanes"

In the SQL database, each planet got a unique ID number.

To make a lane, we simply have another table that says the orignating planet IS and the ending planet IS, and BAAM a jump lane is made. To have one back, a second lane is made with the ID numebrs in the opposite fields.

And before someone asks, yes, we could have made the system search through and have one entry to make a lane go both ways, but it was a few seonds difference in actually looking it up and processing it. So I went for speed and made it both ways.

If there are only a few hundred planets, go with the one entry. When there are 2200+ planets, the speed of two entries makes up for the extra h/d space of having double entries.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 2:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This sounds really cool. I only play battletech, but I'm going universe hoping to get some clan beating tech. Anyway, with this I could keep track of every universe with one program. When can get it. I would beta test also if your doing a public. I did it once before for a game called Alpha Centauri. It was a lot of fun.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 2:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tenkawa Akito wrote:
This sounds really cool. I only play battletech, but I'm going universe hoping to get some clan beating tech. Anyway, with this I could keep track of every universe with one program. When can get it. I would beta test also if your doing a public. I did it once before for a game called Alpha Centauri. It was a lot of fun.


I'm glad you're interested. Yes, it should allow you to set up as many different game universes as you desire, using multiple databases.

Thanks for offering to beta. While I may open it up at a later time, we're well set for the time being on beta designers and testers.

I'll keep you guys posted on the status of development.
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PostPosted: Tue Jul 01, 2003 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thats fine just offering my services for future projects.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This program sound excellent. Now I think I know why Rick didn't go ahead with HMMap. So when will this program be for sale? Or is it on sale now & if so where do I go to get it?
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 5:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope Rick goes ahead with HMMap, personally.

Right now, the betatesters don't have it. They've all pitched in and helped describe what we want in each aspect of the program, and now Mercon (the programmer) and I are working on the alpha version, adding each major feature a week at a time. At this point, unfortunately, I don't have a timeline for release.

As for where: right here. I'll have a shopping area set up.

If you want to see a preview of the site, go to http://www.starshiptracker.com/Flash/.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 5:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I look forward to the programs release. Making star maps with this program will make my life easier as a GM.
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PostPosted: Mon Jul 14, 2003 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I hope so, I really do.
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 6:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So Dan, how is the program coming? Or have you been so swept up in updating the forum you haven't worked on it? Razz
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 9:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah Dan. How is that program coming along?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 9:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, to be honest guys, its going slowly. I had built this site so that I could 'introduce' SST before it came out, as we were originally aiming for an April release date. But, if you know how Rick's playtesting efforts often require the addition of unexpected features, you'll understand how its affected SST.

Mercon is trying to complete his 3D programming utility, 3DLugh, to assist in the 3D mapping side of SST. I have early alpha versions of SST that I get every week or so, but right now Mercon and I are trying to nail down what we want the mapping portion of the program to do, before we share it with the betatesters.

There is still much work to do...I'd say about 75% or so, but I have seen early versions of test ships, 3D meshes, stationed inbetween stars. Its pretty cool to see the TOS Enterprise and Klingon battlecruiser whereever I place them on the program.

But, right now, the program isn't doing anything, as we're still building the framework. There are 5 phases I feel need to be completed before release: mapping, ship entries, time manipulation (i.e. moving the ships between locations), extra features and final testing. Right now, its Mercon and I just trying to nail down phase 1, mapping.

As you can see, its pretty slow going. Mercon has been most concerned with that, as he feels I may be getting frustrated, but I'd rather take our time, as long as possible, to get the best product out. I hope you will all agree in the end that it was worth it.

What I will do is provide a screen shot or two soon, showing the rough look of the program, okay?
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's cool, I just wanted to make sure you weren't putting more effort into getting our little economy going than the actual program all this was for.... Wink
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2003 10:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To be honest, I am! The forums have taken up a lot more of my time and interest than I had ever planned. But, for now, I'm interested.

The good thing I see, now, about making so many forums moderated by the members is that I could retreat, for the most part, for days on end and I'd expect things would run normally.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

FWIW, the extra's - like the lottery, the economy, the stock exchange, etc - are a big reason why I'm here on a daily basis. The friendly atmosphere is another biggie.

Mind you, I'd still check in to see how the program is doing even if there were no economy (etc), but probably not as often as I do now.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Hellbent. I appreciate hearing that.

I too think the forums have been much more successful, as a meeting place, than I had hoped.
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 3:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I too find the economy something fun to play around with....Very Happy
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 8:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! I had no idea you were working on something this big. I had heard bits and pieces, but nothing like this. Smile I'm impressed.

One thing I'm concerned about, is how difficult it will be to manipulate data, specifically who controls what planet and/or ship. I have always wanted to be able to run larger BT campaigns, but I've never had the patience to keep track of all the planets, ships, etc. It sounds like this program is going to make keeping track of all that much easier. Smile

I'm not sure exactly what Rick has in mind for HMMap (so don't quote me on this), but I believe a big part of his program is going to be the ability to design and print hex-maps for BT gameplay, as well as including starmaps. It will be interesting to see if HMMap and your program can interface with each other. Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 25, 2003 12:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rick's HMMap preview was one of my many sources of inspiration, but there really won't be the same feel to the programs as the HM series has.

BT will be do-able, but I strongly feel that HMMap will be a much more viable program for BT, and I have every intention of buying Rick's program when it becomes available.

But, hopefully, the current maps will be importable, though I fear that it will simply be a matter planets with names at the set locations. Ownership will probably not be importable (but it will be capable of being added individually). Fortunately, Řystein is a betatester and he will probably grab Longwalker and Medron Pryde early to begin working on inputting the data. But, let me stress again that HMMap will be probably more friendly to use since it will use a very specific record keeping format that is already in use by other various BT mapping programs and java utilities.

As for keeping track of individual ships, from my POV this will rock. My campaigns make use of ships crossing distances linearly (i.e. Star Trek), rather than via jumppoints, but I plan on incorporating a feature that will identify where ships are in relation to any given location. So, say, you pull up the planet Talitha, it will tell you where so many ships (say closest 50) are in relation to Talitha. Ships in-system will show a distance of 0 lightyears. Those in orbit of, say, Alphard will show a distance of, what, 17 lightyears.

Rick is one of my betatesters and I know he'd like to see Battletech stars show up, and change ownership over the years, so I'm pushing for that capability.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 1:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like that last part about being able to track your ships should they not be BT jump capable. It ought to make the universe hopping a bit easier.
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What do you mean by 'universe hopping'?
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 8:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For me, and others may have a different name, it means taking the pieces of one universe like, mechs and putting them in another universe, like Star Wars. Well basically that is what it means. I have a device located on a planet I conquered in BT that has the power to transport me to another game universe, ST, SW, Shadowrun, Gundam, anything I can think of. This allows me to get but kicking tech from one and bring it back to BT for some fun homegrown units and weapons. Can you imagine a crap load of Street Samuri, Deckers and Riggers from shadowrun as your BT special ops team. Oh the carnage!!!!!! #Robot Twisted Evil Twisted Evil
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why do I see the Borg making an apperance in TA's world.......
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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2003 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So, how would you represent it in SST?

It sounds like you'd have several separate location databases (BT, ST, Gundam, etc), and a ship transports from one to the other, right?

In that, you wouldn't be able to have more than one location database open at a time, but it would allow you to use the same system (SST's), so that you'd be familiar with the mapping symbology that each 'universe' would share.

Did I make sense at all?
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 1:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

BB: Knowing my GM I'm betting my life on it. I just hope the first BT stuff they assimilate is a stinger or wasp. I'd hate to have to face something like the Elohim from my design contest.

Dan: I can't have more then one open at once:? Hmm, that kind of stinks, but not really a big deal. I could at least keep track of one ship traveling between several different universes. That was my main purpose in saying what I said. I just want to know that the flight of X-wings I captured while in SW is in Klingon space while they are hunting down the rogue Comstar Starlord dropship. Could I do that, you know be able to track several vessels over an entire universe?
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 3:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Only one locations database at a time:

There is one map display active at one time. Though there are two map displays (2D & 3D), they both operate off of the same location database, which allows the user to decide if he wants to use one or the other (primarily or according to the situation).

So, let's use your example:

The squadron of X-wings is captured near Dantooine (coords: 12, 1297, -349). In the SW database, you'd have either six entries for each located at Dantaooine.

So, now, you 'port' them over to your BT universe. You'd close the SW locations database and open the BT one. Because those X-wings are located at Dantooine, and that planet doesn't exist in BT, the six x-wings would appear at the empty space location (assuming it is empty in BT) at 12, 1297, -349.

Now, I have to assume that in reality, you wouldn't have one location match exactly another in different universes. If they are captured at Dantooine, they'd probably re-appear around Akitoworld (-5, -13, 7) in the BT universe. So, in that case, you would have to re-enter all six fighters into the BT universe by now closing the SW ships database and opening the BT ships database, and typing them into that one.

You would only have to do that once per database, as once they're entered into one, they stay there, unless you delete them. All six would still appear at Dantooine's location in the SW databases, but I guess it might be good to somehow make a ship appear 'inactive,' to account for it being 'gone' from a particular universe, without deleting it.

So, in the end, you have six X-wings at Akitoworld. If you wanted to send 4 to the star Clarkeville, you could group them into a 'fleet' and then task the fleet with assignment there. If they jumped, you could have them re-appear immediately or after a set period of time. If they traveled there directly, you could track their progress day-by-day (or unit-by-unit).
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2003 7:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking last night, and I came up with a few questions about your program, Dan.

1. Will it allow the ships to be designated by type (eg. freighter, liner, fighter, cruiser, battleship, etc.)?

2. Will it be able to plot random courses for ships (I'm thinking primarily of the freighters here)?

3. How is time measured by the program? Does it flow continuously while the program is running, or can the user move forwards (or backwards) in time to a certain point?

If you ever need extra betatesters, let me know. I have a bad habit of making programs crash. Razz
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

1) It better...Very Happy

2) Doubtful but would be nice

3) TBD
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thanks, MP. I had missed the question for some reason.

1) In a way, yes.

The first step to building a ship is actually building the class. Using a Star Trek universe for an example, lets start using the TOS Enterprise in SST. First, you build the class specifics into the database (these are all done with tabs...class, ship, fleet, etc.) The class is named: Constitution, in this case. The next, you build in class specifics: top speed, sensors and sensor ranges, mass, dimensions, crew size, etc., and hit 'Create.'

The next step, if you are only building the Enterprise is to choose the Ship tab, select the newly emplaced 'Constitution' class and then name the ship. In this case, you provide the starting point (since this is the first time SST has seen this ship), the destination and the speed, as well as what sensors are active. The Enterprise, once created, will now appear on both maps and in the side selection window.

To better answer your question, then, when you select a class name from the class list, it'll list all the ships within that class (for easy map selection). Or, you can go to the master ship list and scroll down to Enterprise. Then, by clicking on the Info display, everything pertinent to Enterprise will be seen, including the class and ship info.

Another nice feature I've required is the ability for the user to have blank data fields that he can use to provide his own info. For example, if you want the class display to indicate it is a Heavy Cruiser, then you'd write that into one of the blank data fields on the class tab. If you wanted Enterprise to have 'Commanding Officer: Commodore Robert April' within its data, then you'd fill in a blank data field for that.

2) Random courses: no. This is simply a utility and will do no role-playing generation at all. Recently, the programmer and I got our visions blurred by what we wanted by considering having gamemaster and roleplayer settings. We cleared it up by making this as feasible for one player use as possible. If enough reaction is generated calling for a deluxe version that would allow certain information to be blocked from players'views, we put it out and the idea of random vessels will be considered.

Thanks for the idea.

3) Time is not linear, as Sisko's wormhole aliens might say. You are the master of your universe, so you'll be able to scroll backwards and forwards in time.

I haven't really revealed what I wanted to Mercon, the programmer, yet, but I hope to be able to make user-defined time units. My druthers call for a stardate approach (for my campaign), with 1,000 units of time (~3 per calendar day), but if we can't go with the ability for users to set up their own time scales, I'll probably call for a straight Julian calendar approach. SST uses Access 2000 as a database (Access not actually needed by the user), and that should be easy enough to fall back on.

As for betatesters, I'll keep you in mind, if I expand the stables. Right now, the current testers are on indefinite hiatus, as Mercon and I flesh out what the testers and I designed for the utility.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 1:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will the program be preloaded with ships? at least BT ship classes?
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good question.

Right now, I've created a sample database of 42 real objects, 39 stars and 3 nebulas. I didn't want to preload a pre-existing universe, for trademark reasons, but I do intend to have a member's download area, so that these can happen. Řystein will most likely prepare, with help I'm sure, the BT universe (I hope I'm not volunteering him unnecessarily).

As for ships, I see no reason that a similar project cannot be worked on, as well. It would be nice to know that a few databases are pre-set upon product release.

Another good idea, trademarked BB.
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 30, 2003 11:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan Butler wrote:

Another good idea, trademarked BB.

I try.... Wink
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dan Butler wrote:

Well, first off, StarShip Tracker (SST) is a utility (not a game), much like the HM series of programs. It'll be a combination mapping program/ship database. It'll be open for use by any sci-fi campaign out there, including Star Trek, Star Wars, Babylon 4, Traveller, Battletech and Robotech (as well as any homespun campaigns). I'm looking at offering it for $22.


Entirely a moot point, but don't you mean Babylon 4.

BTW - How close to a Beta?
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Last edited by Kyu Kage on Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:48 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No, I think you mean Babylon 4.

(Keep trying...it'll only frustrate you. Wink )

As for a beta...its a while. Its a contract job and I want it to be better than I had originally contracted it for. In order to not raise the cost of the contract, I'm allowing for liberal amounts of time.

Personally, I'm eager to have it in hand. Professionally, I'll wait for as long as it takes for it to be at its best.

Sorry...no estimate yet.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kyu Kage wrote:
Dan Butler wrote:

Babylon 4


Entirely a moot point, but don't you mean Babylon 4.


Ok......now THAT is just WAY too weird......

Babylon 1

Babylon 2

Babylon 3

Babylon 4

Babylon 4 - Now I KNOW i typed a 5 there.... Confused

Babylon 6
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 2:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

:whistling innocently: Rolling Eyes
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 5:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I know for a fact I typed B5, because I went back to check after I saw B4 there.

Dan, you've set up a filter haven't you... 8)

Sneaky devil... Smile
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 13, 2003 5:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, I did. Way back when, when I opened the forums and I forgot about it.

I didn't want to spend the time putting in all those nasty words, so I played around with it and moved on. B5/ST was a silly competition between my college roommate and I, and when I saw what I could do with it, I did. 8)

Typing B5 is a good work around, though.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2003 1:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Leave it in.

That way, we can have an injoke next time it happens! Smile
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 15, 2003 4:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not a problem!
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