One of the FSO engine features we've been working on is adding support for BSG-style "combat landings," where ships fly into a landing bay and skid to a halt. Without further ado, a quick&dirty FRAPS capture demonstrating this working, (music by Phrey, original for Diaspora):http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vxwNJVKaFO8
To make this possible, we're combining a few different things:1. New Landing Physics
The default collision physics don't make this sort of touchdown & skid landing at all feasible. Fighters colliding with bigger ships tend to bounce pretty far back, no matter how gently you touch down or how your ship is oriented. This may make sense for retail Freespace and some mods, but wasn't going to cut it if we wanted to be able to land a Viper on a deck. We were able to add some options to the FSO engine to give us a lot more control over this: if you want the technical details, they're on the Freespace wiki
. 2. New Path following
Diaspora's ships have significantly more momentum than Freespace ones do. Make a sharp turn, and you can expect to drift a ways along your original vector before straightening out. A lot of the path following code used for ship departure and docking, unfortunately, was written with Freespace's ships in mind, and our Vipers and Raptors had a hard time following the correct paths to dock or fly into a flight pod. Again, we updated the engine code to give us some more options, and the new path-following code allows our high-momentum ships to fly paths with a lot more precision. The landing paths were also given some metadata about orientation, so that ships flying into flight pods will always do so wheels-down.3. FRED Trickery
Nothing really "new" here, just the use of SEXPS (including some recent FSO additions) in Freespace's mission designer. The main trick is that once a ship/wing is given orders to depart via fighterbay, that departure can be cancelled (so they don't just fly into the fighterbay and disappear). Letting them fly most of the departure path first, though, gets them nicely lined up for landing, and once over the deck, another SEXP is used to make the AI ships thrust gently downward.For the future...
As neat as this is, there is plenty of room for improvement. The best thing would be real, true landing gear support: we would love to have modeled landing gears that extend out of the bottom of the ship on a keypress, and a collision physics model that works accurately with them. These improvements are not likely to make it into our first release, but will hopefully be possible in the future. If you absolutely can't live without a properly modeled landing gear... well, we can always use more coders! Volunteer today!