Archive for the 'Gaming' Category

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[Elite Dangerous] Expedition #3 (part 1) ā€“ NGC 7822 – HD 19419 – California Nebula

My third expedition was a rather roundabout trip that started off as an investigation of the NGC 7822 nebula (an interesting line of stars that are visible from the vicinity of the North American Nebula). I ended up seeing a little more than that though…! (January 3303)

Don’t forget – exploration continues on my Twitch channel every Tuesday evening from 6-8pm PST!

[Elite Dangerous] Expedition #2 ā€“ Antares.

My second expedition was to the supergiant star Antares. I’d been there before in my Cobra Mk III when ED was first released, but I didn’t have an Advanced Discovery Scanner then and it was harder to plot a route to because the plotting distance limit was about 100 ly. This time around I was better prepared, heading out in a new Keelback with an ADS and fighter bay!

Exploration continues on my twitch channel on my Twitch channel every Tuesday evening from 6-8pm PST!

[Elite Dangerous] Expedition #1 – Alpha Cygni and the Sadr Nebula.

I’ll be posting my Elite Dangerous Exploration Galleries here so I can have them somewhere safely archived (and more accessible than Facebook or G+). So here’s my first proper exploration trip to Deneb and the Sadr Nebula in my Asp Explorer! (December 3302).

If you want to watch my continuing exploration of the Galaxy, don’t forget to tune in to my exploration streams on every Tuesday evenings from 6-8pm PST!

[Elite Dangerous] First Stream is now online!

And now for something completely different – I have started streaming! I now have my very own Twitch page at and I’ll be streaming Elite Dangerous there on a semi-regular basis (check the twitch page or my twitter for updates)!

I’ve already finished my first stream this evening, and you can now see the whole thing on youtube at . Highlights include a few neutron star boosts, finding a moon that orbited very close to the edge of its gas giant primary’s ring system, and a big landable icy planet. Plus an explanation about how planetary rings work, and a few rants about the inaccuracies of Elite Dangerous :).

Elite Dangerous 21Feb2017 stream

So if you’d like to join me as I explore the galaxy in Elite Dangerous, please check out the twitch page and videos and Follow me there to be notified about when I’ll be streaming again!

[2300AD] Pushing the Stutterwarp Drive


While I was looking at the side branches of the French Arm (I’m still working on it!), I found a group of systems that were 7.769ly from the nearest star on one of the side branches. Which got me to wonder – what happens if a system in the 2300AD setting is slightly over 7.7 ly away – between 7.7 to 7.8ly? Can people still reach it without tugs or multiple drives/tuning? Do they have to “push the drive” even for such a small increment?

Let’s have a look at how “pushing the drive” really works (using the MGT rules). The rules say: “Pushing a stutterwarp drive past its discharge limit: 1ā€“6 hours, Very Difficult, range increased by Effect x10%.” So when do you start “pushing the drive”? I’d guess no later than 6 hours before it gets to 7.7 ly (otherwise you wouldn’t be able to finish before hitting the limit).

Getting into the nitty-gritty of the game engine, I guess theoretically an engineer could spend a lot of time on it (reduce by two timesteps to 10-60 hours – so break out the coffee and stims!) to knock the DM penalty from DM-4 to DM-2. I’d imagine most engineers would have skill level 2-3 (DM +2 or +3), and Int or Edu of at least 9-11 (DM+1) – let’s just say that a competent engineer should be able to get a DM+4 between their skill and characteristic. So if they spend 10-60 hrs on it they’d be rolling 2d6 against difficulty 8 with a net DM of +2, which would give them a 72% chance of success. Though granted, it’s unlikely they’d be able to do the task for 10-60 hours (on their own at least) – at worst I think they’d just do it at Very Difficult with 1-6 hours and have all the DMs cancel out for a 42% chance of success. It seems to me that a competent engineer could reasonably be willing to spend at least 6-24 hours to push the drive to get a 58% chance of success with no possibility of destroying the ship (though there’s still a 42% chance that he’ll destroy the drive, so it’s probably not something that would be tried regularly).

Exceptional Failure only occurs if the Effect is -6 or less (I think that’s what the rules mean – not less than -6, since -6 isn’t on the table otherwise), so they’d only have a 2.8% chance of exploding the ship if they didn’t take more time to do it (Very difficult, no DMs, 8+ required) – otherwise Exceptional Failures can’t happen if there are net positive DMs. Though Average or Marginal Failures still at least disable the drive (I’d imagine the drive would just explode but not necessarily destroy the ship with it, and the the ship would suddenly drop out of stutterwarp).

If the roll succeeds, then there’s a decent chance that the range is increased by 10-30% (the chance is lower for the 40-60% increase, since that would require bigger effect – though spending longer on the roll would make those more likely) – so theoretically a drive has a reasonable chance of being pushed to 10.01 lightyears (maybe up to 12.32 ly if the engineer is very good and very lucky)!

So the question really is whether all this is even necessary to go slightly over 7.700 ly. If it is, then I guess it’s not going to be very likely that anyone would want to be regularly heading out to systems that are even 7.71 – 7.80 lightyears away since there’s a significant chance the drive would be destroyed/rendered inoperative (even though it’s at most about 1-2% further in range). Maybe risk-taking explorers would do it, but it wouldn’t be a regular route. Or maybe a 1-2% range increase is OK, but the drive MUST be checked over/recalibrated/retuned at the destination (after discharging) before it can be reused? I’d be more inclined to go with the latter option – it adds possibilities and doesn’t seem unreasonable.

Extending the drive range

There are at least three options (possibly more) to increase the range of the drive:
Continue reading ‘[2300AD] Pushing the Stutterwarp Drive’

[2300AD] The complete 2300AD Near Star List!

Now that my website is settled in its new home, I can finally start a new 2300AD project here. This time I’ll be moving on from the 2300AD Realistic Star Maps and going back to the original Near Star List!

Kafer space

Kafer Space (from the Kafer Sourcebook).

The first thing to do is to make the data available. I’ve transferred the original NSL (oNSL) table from 2300AD into digital form and incorporated the extra data for Kafer Space from the GDW Kafer Sourcebook – and as an added bonus I’ve also thrown in the Backdoor system from Operation Backdoor that allowed the humans to contact the Ylii (Operation Backdoor may or may not be official canon, but I’m throwing it in anyway) :). This represents all the xyz data for the stars that was originally provided by GDW.

The xyz data is presented here as they were in the Near Star Lists – I haven’t rotated or recalculated anything, I’ve just transcribed them (though I have reordered some of the stars in the list to be consecutive to their companions for clarity). The list itself is in a CSV format that can be imported into Astrosynthesis, and the canonical arms are also provided in that format – the Backdoor route is also there. Keep in mind that this is not consistent with the Realistic Near Star Map that I’ve produced on this website (IIRC the coordinates may be flipped on the realistic map too) – but it’s all internally consistent at least.

The oNSL stars are listed with a Catalogue Number (Cat_no) between #230001 and #230749, the Kafer Sourcebook stars are #230750 to #230787, and the Backdoor brown dwarf system is #230788. So if you only want to use the oNSL stars you can ignore or remove the stars from 230750 and up (or just use the 2300AD_original_oNSL.csv in the zipfile below).

While there are some real stars in Kafer space in the oNSL (e.g. Gamma and Lambda Serpentis), the Kafer stars and the Backdoor system listed between #230750-#230788 are entirely fictional. Almost all of these fictional stars are within 7.7 ly of other stars (as shown in the screencap above), which means that there are no “dead ends” in Kafer Space – this is quite unlike the distribution of real stars in the oNSL (I would imagine that this was a design oversight when the new stars were being added – realistically I think the stars should be more spread out, with more being inaccessible).

You can download the CSV data from the link below. As usual, please don’t redistribute these files yourself – just link back to this page if you want to spread the word! The zipfile contains the following:
2300AD_original_Kafer+oNSL.csv (the full oNSL+Kafer Sourcebook xyz, cat_no, name and startype data table),
2300AD_original_oNSL.csv (just the oNSL data),
– The French, American, and Chinese Arms in a csv format that can be imported into Astrosynthesis,
– the original_2300AD_NSL+Kafer.AstroDB file that can be opened in Astrosynthesis.

Next time, we’ll start exploring some of the lesser known side branches of the original 2300AD near star map!


Copyright stuff: The 2300 AD game in all forms is owned by Far Future Enterprises. Copyright 1986 – 2016 Far Future Enterprises. 2300 AD is a registered trademark of Far Future Enterprises. Far Future permits web sites and fanzines for this game, provided it contains this notice, that Far Future is notified, and subject to a withdrawal of permission on 90 days notice. The contents of this site are for personal, non-commercial use only. Any use of Far Future Enterprises’s copyrighted material or trademarks anywhere on this web site and its files should not be viewed as a challenge to those copyrights or trademarks. In addition, any program/articles/file on this site cannot be republished or distributed without the consent of the author who contributed it.

[2300AD] Stutterwarp Drive limits

Just a quick update to say that I’ve posted an excel file showing the Stutterwarp Drive limit distances for pretty much every celestial body that anyone is likely to encounter in 2300AD, from the largest star to the smallest moon or ‘dwarf planet’.

I determined the distance of the “Threshold” (where Stutterwarp drops from FTL to sub-FTL) and the “Wall” (where it drops from sub-FTL to orbital velocity) by calculating the distance at which the gravitational field strength was 0.0001G (0.001 m/sĀ²) and 0.1G (1 m/sĀ²) – those distances are shown in AU in the red columns in the spreadsheet and are the most accurate numbers to use. Note that the Wall distance is also the maximum distance within which drives can be discharged around that body.

For comparison purposes, I also calculated the distances according to the formulae provided on pg 265 of the MGT 2300AD corebook – to calculate the limits for planets and sub-stellar objects, I extrapolated the formulae to use mass values measured in Jupiter Masses and Earth Masses. Note that the formula used in 2300AD to determine the stutterwarp threshold of any given planet is wrong (stutterwarp limits are nothing to do with planetary radius, and this formula produced results that are nothing like the real numbers for such worlds) – I’ve ignored it completely, so you should use the results from the table in the spreadsheet instead.

All distances are measured from the centre of the body. Note that the Wall distances for the smallest objects shown in the table may not actually be above the planetary surface, which means that (a) stutterwarp drives can continue to be used at sub-FTL speeds right up down the surface of these objects and (b) the drives cannot be discharged around these bodies.

You can download the excel spreadsheet here:

[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 3 ā€“ Final version!

2300AD Celestia output!

2300AD Celestia output!

I’ve been tinkering around a little bit more with my 2300AD worldgen script – I was actually adding the capability to generate Celestia versions of the systems that the program creates (as you can see from the screenshot above, I was successful!), but while I was at it I figured I’d make a few tweaks to some parts of the the system that I wasn’t too happy with. I think the results are much better now.

World Density: First I added a new rocky core density category so that worlds between 4000 and 7000km radius had densities between 0.75 and 1.00 Earths – previously they could go down to 0.5 Earths and I was ending up with habitable planets with unrealistically low densities for their size as a result. Worlds smaller than 4000km radius still have densities between 0.5 and 1.00 Earths, and worlds over 7000km radius have densities between 0.8 and 1.3 Earths as before.

Icy Core size: I wasn’t happy with the Icy Core size either – I was getting a lot of Titanian and Iceball worlds with the first realistic system and that didn’t make much sense to me – in the outer zone it should be easier to accrete material and you’d be much more likely to end up with gas giants instead of Titan and Pluto-like bodies. “Iceballs” don’t really make much sense to have as planets either – they’re really just the equivalent of Dwarf Planets, which would be found in a Kuiper Belt (which is usually assumed to be present but not mentioned). So now Icy Core radii range linearly from 3d6 to 8d6 times 500km, instead of starting at 1d6 – this means we end up with larger icy bodies, and a greater chance of gas giants (though there are still a small number of iceballs created, mostly below 3000km radius).

Snowballing: One limit from the original system was that ‘snowballing’ into a gas giant couldn’t happen within the Inner Zone if the MMW was greater than 2. This seemed a bit arbitrary to me, so I removed that limitation to allow it to occur at any planet where the MMW is greather than 2. As it turned out, changing it didn’t actually seem to make any significant difference to the output! Presumably this is because it’s very hard to get an inner zone planet that would be massive enough to have an MMW over 2 in those conditions.

Gas Giants: I’ve now subdivided Gas Giants into new World Types based on their sizes. Failed Cores are still under 12000 km radius. Small Gas Giants are between 12000 and 40000 km radius (this includes Uranus and Neptune). Gas Giants are larger Jovians that are larger than 40000 km radius but less than 2 Jupiter Masses (2 MJ) – this includes Jupiter and Saturn. Superjovians are over 40000 km radius but have masses between 2 and 13 MJ. Finally Brown Dwarfs are jovians that have masses over 13 MJ. This adds a bit of variety to the systems generated (and lets me use different textures in the Celestia output!)

I also changed how these gas giants are created. I still stick with the ‘snowballing’ idea, but something that always bugged me about that was the fact that the the original core density is assumed to be the density of the resulting gas giant, which can’t be right since all that extra hydrogen and helium has a much lower density than the icy/rocky core and would reduce the density of the resulting jovian. Now, if a planet snowballs into a Gas Giant then its density is re-rolled on a new density table depending on its final radius – this allows Superjovians to be 2-12 Jupiter masses, and Brown Dwarfs to be between 15 and 65 Jupiter Masses. It’s not the prettiest system since values are rolled and then rerolled, but it seems to get the right kind of results.

Garden Worlds: I realised that the lowest mass F V star has a total main sequence lifespan of 4 billion years, which means that garden worlds aren’t really likely around them. So while Pre-Garden, Post-Garden, or Frozen worlds are an option in their habitable zones, Garden worlds and Glaciers (which are just Garden worlds in a temporary ice age) are now no longer possible there.
Continue reading ‘[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 3 ā€“ Final version!’

[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 2 ā€“ Realistic Version

Sunrise on a new world (created in Space Engine)

Sunrise on a new world (created in Space Engine)

In the first part of this series, I looked at the distribution of systems that the default 2300AD system generated, and examined some of the issues and assumptions that it made. In this article, I’ll present the results of a modified system that addresses these issues and corrects the flawed assumptions, and explain why I made the changes.


Orbital Zones: The Outer Zone now begins at 2.5356*SQRT(L) AU from the star. This is roughly where the “frost line” is (where the blackbody temperature is 175K), beyond which volatiles can condense and gas giants are more likely to form. The new zone between the outer edge of the habitable zone and the inner edge of the outer zone is called the Middle Zone, and cold rocky planets are likely to form there (Mars is located in the Middle Zone in our Solar System, and Jupiter and the more distant gas giants are in the Outer Zone).

The boundaries of the Habitable Zone also need to be adjusted. The K multipliers used in the Life Zone equation in 2300AD don’t match the values shown in the table there – the values in the equation are K=0.72 and 1.45, but the table shows values for K=0.82 and 1.2. Unfortunately, those are both pretty unrealistic! Recent papers have put the inner boundary much closer to 1 AU than 2300AD assumed (between 0.9 and 0.99 AU) and while the outer boundary is less well defined but seems to be around 1.4 to 1.6 AU (see the Circumstellar Habitable Zone wikipedia article).

I will assume here that the habitable zone goes from K = 0.9 to K = 1.4 – this lets us have a full range of environments in the habitable zone without things getting too extreme. So K = 0.9 for the inner edge of the Habitable zone, K=1.4 for the outer edge of the Habitable zone, and K=2.5356 for the border between the Middle and Outer Zones.
Continue reading ‘[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 2 ā€“ Realistic Version’

[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 1 – Investigation

Gas Giant orbiting a triple G V system (created in Space Engine)

Gas Giant orbiting a star in a triple G V system (image created in Space Engine)

Now that I’ve got the Realistic Near Star Map Project out of the way I thought I’d take a look at the world generation system from the original GDW 2300AD Directors Guide, which I haven’t really examined in detail before. To do this, I automated the generation system so that I could generate thousands of systems and go over the statistics of the results.

However, I had to make a few tweaks to the system while writing the program so it’s not entirely faithful to the original system in the Directors Guide. First, the 2300AD system was designed to be used with existing stars, so I had to add a stellar generation system to generate those on the fly. I used a slightly modified version of my Revised Stellar Generation Tables (the original is available on my Worldbuilding page), that only generated solo stars (largely because it was easier to program that way). I used the stellar data tables from 2300AD to determine the stars’ luminosity and radius, but I just used the mass from the “V” column since in reality stars don’t change their masses significantly when they evolve into sizes II, III and IV. I also assumed fixed masses for the II and III Giants (1.5 Ms) and the White Dwarfs (0.5 Ms).

Another issue was that 2300AD is missing an Orbital Zone – there is a gap between the outer edge of the Habitable Zone and the inner edge of the Outer Zone. This “Middle Zone” is where Mars is located in our own Solar System, and cold rocky bodies (as opposed to icy bodies) would dominate there.

Additionally, in the original system, Gas Giants could snowball to immense sizes – the radius multiplier could go up to 16x the original rolled radius, which meant that you could potentially get Gas Giants with a radius of up to 384,000 km – over half the size of Sol! Obviously, this is not realistic – in reality, the maximum radii of jovians (that aren’t in star-hugging “Torch orbits”, at least) is between 70,000 and 80,000 km, because at that point adding more mass just causes them to self-compress further. In other words, Jupiter is about as big as a Gas Giant can get in terms of radius, though more mass can be piled into it and it wouldn’t get much bigger. So I set the upper limit at 70,000 – 80,000 km here, which results in an upper mass limit of about 8 Jupiter Masses (still too small for a Brown Dwarf though).

Finally, I simply calculated the MMW (and blackbody temperature and mass) of each planet instead of attempting to encode the tables directly. The MMW table in the book isn’t accurate in a general case anyway – this is discussed further in the Observations section.

Aside from these changes, I was able to translate the worldgen rules pretty faithfully into the program. Once that was done, I could set up runs that would generate 100,000 systems to investigate how many of which types of stars and worlds were created.

Continue reading ‘[2300AD] The GDW 2300AD Worldbuilding system: Part 1 – Investigation’