Rapid prototyping with 3D printing

It's amazing how quickly one can iterate on a design with a 3D printer - I know I'm late to the party but I can see how they will change (and presumably have changed) prototyping and design.

I've made advancements in most of the physical components over the last couple of weeks. The finger joint itself has undergone many iterations as you can see here:

The finger joint attached to a back plate which is strapped to the back of the user's hand. At this stage I'm mounting the VR controller to the back plate but for the final glove design I hope to include pistons with sensors attaching the glove to a forearm mounted unit housing the electronics and compressor. The wrist pistons will allow the glove to simulate force feedback similar to the kick back from a gun, and the sensors mean the VR controller can be mounted on the forearm (where its mass and inertia will be felt less) while still allowing the glove to report accurate hand and finger positions to the VR environment.

I'm also planning on creating separate quick-release mounts for the Oculus Touch and Vive Tracker - I'm just using the Touch for now as the Vive is set up in a separate room while the Touch is in my office.

For the prototype I'm controlling the air flow with a servo based valve. This is likely to be slower than a solenoid based equivalent but has a few advantages. It requires less current so is easier and safer to work with, and only requires power when moving to a new position.

Last up for now if the compressor. I tried a few designs based on a high RPM DC motor but none were satisfactory. You can make gear boxes with a 3D printer but it's difficult to make a good one, and even when it worked it was far too loud. I found these brilliant motors with a built in gear box which can take them down to 15RPM, though I found the 70RPM one to be the best balance between power and speed. The compressor mount needs an adjustment due to it flexing too much, but that's lined up to be 3D printed soon.

Prototyping The Pneumatic VR Glove

I've recently switched from working on Arduxim Squadron Command to looking again at the pneumatic VR glove concept. I originally worked on this two years ago so it's quite a gap. I wasn't able to continue then due to relying on Lego parts for the structure of the glove, but I've recently bought a 3D printer which has been hugely helpful.

The printer is a Monoprice Maker Select Plus - a fairly low end printer at around £300 but it is doing the job brilliantly and has let me try multiple designs for components of the glove. At the moment I'm still using Lego Technic for the pneumatics but I hope to create 3D printed pistons and valves in future. This is a challenge but I don't think the pneumatic parts need to have perfect seals (and the glove may even work better without that) so 3D printing them may be possible.

Below are some of the designs. The first two images show the compressors I've tried - none have pumped well but each iteration gets better. The rest are the finger joints, in the last images with the piston attached for a manual test.

Adding hyper gates to the sector map

I've been working on the sector map which will form the middle layer of the game (between the tactical combat layer and long term strategic galaxy layer). The map already generated 'edges' of the graph which but these now appear as hyper gates with defined locations in each planetary system. The player will move their carrier (and possibly individual fighters) through these gates during missions.

The blue gate effect is place holder but shows where each gate is connected to.

The next task it to support the carrier moving through the systems and gates.

The strategy layers of Arduxim Squadron Command

I'm currently working on the upper strategic layers of Arduxim Squadron Command. At the very top level the player is presented with a view of the galaxy with several 'sector maps' available.

A sector map is a collection of somewhere between 5 and 20 stars which are linked by hyper gates. It is campaigns in these sectors that form the backbone of the strategy layer. My current thought is that each sector campaign will have a specific goal such as finding and destroying a hidden pirate base, reaching a distant research based and escorting the scientists back from it, and so on.

Each star has its own collection of planets, asteroid fields and other points of interest.

A campaign begins with the fleet arriving in a planetary system within the sector. The player then moves their fleet through each system, performing missions and using the hyper gates to jump to connected systems. Missions will play out in the 'tacscape' where the player controls individual fighters in pausable real time.

The scope within the game goes from galaxy to sector to system to planet, and in VR being able to see this has extra impact.

Galaxy meta-game

I haven't yet decided how the galaxy layer will link the sector/campaign gameplay. Here are a few options I'm considering. Please let me know what you think.

1. A rogue-lite where each sector campaign is one run, with some persistence between campaigns. Probably not the entire fleet, maybe just the commander (who would level up if he survives) and/or unlocked technology.

2. A more traditional strategy game design where the player retains the same commander, fleet, etc between sector campaigns and the galaxy forms the overall campaign.

With either of these there needs to be an overarching plot to tie the campaigns together and be the overall win condition of the game. The obvious one is an enemy faction that the player faction is at war with, and you need a powerful enough fleet to take on the final campaign to destroy their command structure. However it may be difficult to indicate to the player when they are strong enough.

An alternative would be something similar to Heat Signature's design, with each sector campaign being a different commander who has a specific objective (which forms the goal of the campaign) and the galaxy-level objective remains mostly in the background.

The galaxy level play could be left open ended but I feel a specific goal will give the player more reason to keep building their fleet.commander/experience.

This is still in flux and will need to be determined regardless of whether the strategy layer plays as a rogue-lite or not.