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Ship-specific Radars

Jul 04, 2013 meridian link
While the new radar image introduced a few months ago looks nice, it lacks functionality. That got me thinking about how I could implement unique radar images on a per-ship basis (or at least per ship role), highlighting the aspects most relevant for situational awareness based on the ship's role and/or physical characteristics.

For my first experiment towards that goal, I have designed radar images tailored specifically for the trident, along with a simple plugin to load them. The two main purposes for the radar to convey are to help line up a target with the turrets as well as lining up the docking bay with an approaching friendly unit. Here is a preview of what the radar looks like:

Now the turret alignments might be a little confusing just because of the nature of how it represents a cone within a sphere projected onto a flat surface. A target within the confines of the turret areas on the radar isn't necessarily within the fire arcs of the turrets, but you can estimate if it is by knowing the distance to the target.

That's where the circular lines centered on the turret origin with increasing radii are helpful. The innermost circle denotes where the target would be located on the radar (from the perspective of the pilot) when the target is 10m away from the turret (note the distance to the pilot or center of the ship will be slightly more). The next line represents a target 25m from the turret, then 50m, followed by 100m, and finally 200m. So a target farther than 200m away should be at the very top (or bottom) edge of the radar (and preferably toward the center of the turret for best results) if it is aligned with the turret.

You'll also see a triangular symbol slightly below the center of the rear radar that is used to assist with alignment for other ships to dock with the trident. The horizontal line at the very top of the triangle shows where the target would be if it is aligned with the docking bay and 100m away from the center of the trident. The horizontal line below that denotes where the target would be at a distance of 200m. There is a third line at 400m but it can be difficult to see since it is so near the bottom of the triangle (having a large radar helps). The target will be positioned at the very base of the triangle when aligned with the docking bay and at a distance of 1000m or more.

The horizontal bar above the triangle denotes the threshold of the docking bay. A target located above that bar and near the center of the rear radar will be located inside of the docking bay if its distance is about 50 to 68m away from the center of the trident. See the following illustration for more detail:

For the best results with the radar, use the first-person camera mode with mouse-look disabled. It also works reasonably well in the third-person alternate view. The third-person (non-alternate) view doesn't work very well because it is at an angle that doesn't align correctly with the radar. You can tell if the alignment is correct by examining where the trident turret blips are positioned on the radar.

I've whipped together the plugin RadarSwap to facilitate changing the radar images. A list of commands can be viewed with /RadarSwap help, but you only need to use the commands to switch back to the default radar image or adjust the radar size, etc. The plugin doesn't currently do anything fancy like select the radar image to use based on the active ship.

Next, I think I'll try to design a set of radars specific to the vulture (which probably will work reasonably well for any light fighter). Stay tuned.

DOWNLOAD: RadarSwap v1.0.1
Jul 04, 2013 Pizzasgood link
Jul 05, 2013 TheRedSpy link
Jul 05, 2013 Keller link
Very nice. Reminds me of the days playing WarBirds when players started building custom gunsites to assist making leading shots in the planes.
Jul 05, 2013 abortretryfail link
Hell yes, this is awesome!

It also does a damn good job at visualizing how bad the turret coverage of the Trident really is. :(
Jul 05, 2013 Capt.Waffles link
Seeing this reminds me of all the work we used to do in figuring out the firing arc of the Nemesis way back when. Great work, I'm sure a lot of people will be using this (and by a lot I mean just the people with tridents).
Jul 07, 2013 meridian link
Now that people have had a chance to try out this plugin, I'd like to do a quick poll:

1) What is your preferred screen resolution?
2) What size do you use for the radars? (the size can be changed using /RadarSwap size)

Note that if you haven't used the "/RadarSwap size" command, then you can find the size of your radars by typing the following into the console (open the console with the ` key or /consoletoggle):
/lua console_print(tostring(RadarSwap.default_vals.size_left))

If you have used the size command but forgot what you set it to, you can find it in the config.ini file, or just type the following into the console:
/lua console_print(RadarSwap.vars.GetVars"Size")

I'm curious because I'm wondering if it would be worthwhile to be creating larger resolution images for the radars. I'm currently working at a 512x512 size to match the default radars used by the game.
Jul 15, 2013 csgno1 link
The link doesn't work for me
Jul 16, 2013 meridian link
Try it again? It works for me. Sometimes the site I use for free hosting goes down.
Jul 17, 2013 abortretryfail link
Why not post it on voupr?
Jul 18, 2013 meridian link
The current state of the plugin is what I consider an alpha release (as indicated by the 'a' in the version), for which I was hoping to get some initial feedback to determine the ideal size to use for the radar images before I got too far along in the design work. Since the feedback is lacking, I've simply stuck with a working size of 512x512.

I have a few more generic radar images ready to add to the mix and am currently half-done with the vult radar. Once I finish with that I'll upload a new version, and it should be suitable for distribution to a wider audience (e.g. voupr).
Jul 18, 2013 abortretryfail link
Honestly, I'd just stick to the size the stock radar textures use, that way it'll look at least as good as the stock images.

512x512 is pretty big. you'd have to have your radars fairly large on a high-resolution display to notice any chunky edges.
Jul 22, 2013 meridian link
New version 1.0 is released that adds a radar for the vult and a some generic ones (link in first post).

The vult radar attempts to show the vulnerability of the profile relative to where a target is on the radar. Normalizing to 100% vulnerability with a target directly above and extrapolating from measurements by counting pixels, I am able to estimate the profile vulnerability.

The segments at the very top and very bottom are where it is 66% to 100% vulnerable. The next inner segment top and bottom (the one that is slightly more opaque) represents 33% to 66% vulnerability. The segment at the center is 16% to 33% vulnerability, with 16% occurring with a head-on target. The small circle at the center is just an aiming reticule.

Here is an image showing how close the final result is to my extrapolated calculations:

The radar set "Legacy" is a higher resolution recreation of the old radar, but is more transparent (more in-line with the current radar the game uses). The other advantage is the color can be changed with other plugins like FlamboyancyHUD.

"Sphere" segments the radar in 30 degree intervals both horizontally and vertically.

"Grid" is probably the least useful because the lines don't really correspond to anything. Might be useful as a reference if you want to count pixels on the radar or something.

To change radar sets, use the command:
/radarswap set NAME_OF_RADAR_SET

and for a list of available radar sets you can use:
/radarswap help set

[EDIT] Fixed image that wasn't displaying correctly
Jul 22, 2013 abortretryfail link
Here's an odd feature request: How hard do you think it'd be to take the current screen size, aspect ratio, and FOV settings to draw an overlay on the front radar for what appears on "visual"?

What'd you use to create these images?
Jul 22, 2013 meridian link
I think it should be doable. What would be tricky is a case where the player's view is in a direction different than the front radar, in which case the overlay would no longer be a rectangle. However, I believe the only way for that to occur in the game currently is while in the free-camera mode, in which case the radar already gets horribly messed up anyway.

Once the ability to look around freely gets added, it would be a different story. Even then I think it might still be possible (but not easy), provided info on the direction of facing relative to the front radar direction is available via the API. The trigonometry to do the calculations wouldn't be so bad; drawing the irregular shapes in iup would probably be the most difficult part.

I'll do some investigation into the matter ...eventually.

The radar images were created in illustrator.
Jul 23, 2013 abortretryfail link
Yeah, the front radar always faces the front of where your screen is pointed when you're flying the ship, so that's not a problem. The API offers a way to get the height and width in pixels (check out the DroidButtons code for examples) and the FOV is just a cvar.

I suppose it'd be possible to "draw" on the image if its loaded as a table of pixel values and use iup.image() to convert it. Does that even work with RGBA stuff?
Apr 04, 2015 meridian link
RadarSwap v1.0.1 adds 4 ship-specific radars for the Valk, Prom, Ant, and Vult, as well as 2 generic Itani and Serco themed radars. I also didn't like how the sphere radar looked, so I replaced it.

Just some new radar images for now since adding them is easy and doesn't require a lot of debugging. I have some ideas on how to implement an interface to assign radars by ship class so that the radar automatically (and optionally) gets swapped when changing ships, but that will have to wait until a future release. Let me know if there are any features you'd like to see implemented in an interface to set the radar on a ship-by-ship basis.

Vulture (short name: Vult)

It's no surprise that the new vulture has a completely different profile from the original. The region in the center shows where it is 33%-16.3% vulnerable (with 16.3% vulnerability directly in front). The two regions at both the top and bottom show where it is 66%-85% and 85%-100% vulnerable. The 100% vulnerability point is directly above (and from below it is 94.2% vulnerable)

The radar for the old Vulture is still available, renamed "vulture_legacy".

Revenant (short name: Ant)

The Revenant has the opposite profile from the vulture, oriented vertically rather than horizontally. On the front radar, the region in the center shows where it is 33%-23.2% vulnerable (with 23.2% vulnerability directly in front). The next outer region is 33%-66% vulnerable, 66%-85% vulnerability for the next outer region, and 85%-100% vulnerability beyond that. The points where 100% vulnerability occur are represented by the shaded dots at the sides at 60% left/right of center (10 o'clock & 2 o'clock).

For the rear, the less than 33% vulnerability region is so small that it is represented by the small white circle a few degrees below the center point. The main region shows where it is 33%-66% vulnerable. The outline for 85% vulnerability is not shown because it would be too near the edge of the radar to be discernible (basically a rear cone region that fills +/-80 degrees).

Prometheus (short name: Prom)

For the front radar, the least vulnerable point occurs a few degrees below directly in front at 36% vulnerability, so there is not a less than 33% vulnerability region. The circle in the center with the cross-hairs is strictly for aiming only and is not related to the vulnerability profile. The bigger center region shows where it is 36%-66% vulnerable. The regions at the top and bottom represent 85%-100% vulnerability, with the 100% vulnerability point directly below the Prom (92.4% from above).

For the rear radar, the smallest region that is a few degrees below center represents 31%-33% vulnerability. The larger region shows where it is 33%-66% vulnerable, and 85-100% vulnerability at the top and bottom like the front radar. From the sides, it is 81.7% vulnerable.

Valkyrie (short name: Valk)

The profile for the Valkyrie is rather boring with its rounded shape. The reticules visible on the front and back do not relate to vulnerability. The dashed box front and rear denotes where 30 degrees from center occurs.

The front radar shows the bounds for 33%, 66% and 85% vulnerability. The back only shows 66% and 85% vulnerability. For the rear, the region for less than 33% vulnerability is so small that it is not shown (occurs at the center of the rear aiming reticule).

The one interesting thing about the Valk profile is that the 100% vulnerability point occurs at about 10 degrees toward the rear from a point directly above. From directly below, the vulnerability is 95.7%.


This is a generic Serco-themed radar with markings at 30, 45 and 60 degrees (the two long vertical lines are at 30 degrees).


This is a generic Itani-themed radar with horizontal lines every 15 degrees. The inner circle is approximately +/-7.5 degrees and the outer circle approximately +/-30 degrees.


This new design for the sphere radar set is a bit more precise with the markings (at 15 degree increments) and just looks better. Replaces the old design.
Apr 04, 2015 vskye link
Cool. I don't know how I missed these before, but thanks meridian.
Feb 13, 2016 meridian link
I've been revisiting this project lately. I have a working prototype that swaps the radars out automatically when changing ships. Just needs a little more testing plus a dialog to customize which radars are used for each ship.

Hopefully the new version will be out by this time next month. To build up the hype for the next release, here are the vulnerability profiles for the next 4 ships to get new radars. See if you can guess which ships the profiles correspond to.

Profile #1

Profile #2

Profile #3

Profile #4
Feb 16, 2016 abortretryfail link
Have you ever tried doing one for trade ships with markings on their rear radar to assist with dropping mines on pursuers?