Hi. This is a quite complex idea for some new technologies in the game and the way they can work and improve the experience. I understand that what I have written is enough for a whole new update, but why not?
I believe satellites should have slots for sensors and for other devices, so they could be customised for our needs. They need to be powered by solar energy and have a built-in battery. Now, a perfectly working satellite with enough power would update sensor information every 5 minutes. But the further from the sun, this time would obviously be longer. Also, at night the satellite would not be able to use solar energy. So it would either stop working when the battery is drained, what would happen some time after dusk, or it would go into energy saving mode and only update data once per night.
To receive any information from the satellite on the ground you would need:
1. Satellite control system/computer – some kind of big platform located in your base that would download satellite data every few minutes. This would for example show maps and location of objects on ground. This system would have a limit of satellites it can control. One computer should be able to control no more than 3-4 satellites. So if you want to launch more satellites, you have to have more computers controlling them and use more power.
2. Additional modules for this system/computer to be able to receive data specific to each type of sensor.
3. Personal computer/Tablet to receive the same data when you are away from your base, to see the map and your location, if you have all sensors and modules required.
We could also decide that the data from space needs to get to your base first, in order to be decoded or merged from all different satellites. Then, to get to your personal computer/tablet it would have to be relayed using a network of communication/telemetry stations. Each one would transmit the data within a specific radius. The most logical would be to the horizon, like in reality. So you would need to place telemetry stations in some high places all around the planet to have global coverage for your personal computer.
They should be two ways of launching a satellite:
1. A special rocket launched either from a launch pad or from a special platform.
2. By releasing the satellite from cargo space of a space shuttle.
Once launched, satellites should be stationary on the orbit and cover only a part of the planet. So to cover more ground, you would need more satellites. There should be a way to manually place each satellite in the exact point you want it.
Satellites can be available in 3 sizes:
1. Small: 1 medium sensor slot and one additional slot for another small module.
2. Medium: 2 medium sensor slots and two slots for small modules or one for a medium module.
3. Large: 3 medium sensor slots and two slots for medium modules or one large module.
1. Camera – that would allow mapping from space. (Colours of the ground, vegetation and bigger objects only). Camera would update the map every few minutes. So if any player digs a hole or removes a forest, you would need to wait some time to see the change on the map. The camera would not be able to penetrate clouds, so with each map update some of the terrain would be covered by clouds.
2. LIDAR – that would allow for creating elevation map, but without colours. Lidar would give you a monochrome map with heights of the terrain. It would penetrate clouds.
3. Meteo/Infrared sensor – for providing information about weather events and average windspeed in different areas of the planet, so you know where to put wind turbines. It could also penetrate clouds.
4. Geological sensor – to map what resources are on the surface and in the ground (but not too deep. There should be a limit how deep can this sensor penetrate)
5. RADAR/radio wave receiver – for finding all kind of crashed spaceships, probes, etc and for showing location of all the beacons and vehicles.
Other modules/devices for satellites:
1. Satnav module – that would provide LIVE tracking of your position, as long as there is enough power. If you have any kind of map available (from a camera or any other sensor), it would show your position on the map as well as show your track in the last 20 minutes (so you could go back the same way). If you have no mapping sensors available, it would only show your current position, your track and the position of your base. On distant planets and at night, when there is not enough solar power, the module can go into energy saving mode and instead of live tracking, it can provide your location in intervals. Also, to make the satnav system work, you need at least 3 satellites with the satnav module and they have to overlap.
2. Telemetry module – provided that you cannot directly receive satellite data onto the tablet and a network of telemetry towers is needed in the game... Then, a module like this would be installed on a satellite instead of a telemetry tower on the ground. It can actually be exactly the same telemetry module that you either install on a satellite or on a tower.
3. Battery – (small or medium) would make sure the satellite has enough power to operate constantly. It could be installed as a device or instead of a sensor. So during the day on planets distant from the sun, it would shorten the interval between map updates. During the night it would either extend the time the satellite operates before the battery is drained, or it would give and extra map update or more.
4. Telescope/Radio telescope – would allow for searching for other planetary systems to colonise and would generate research points when players are actively using it or when they find something.
5. Space lab (large module) – would work on different research projects and for each of them it would require players to send a rocket with specific resources, as well as plant seeds and other biological material. Because a lab module needs extra power, it would only work during the day. To extend the time of operation and speed up research, player would have to place a batteries in sensor slots.
I think they would also be a good tech in the game. The way I see them is:
1. Small drones – one small sensor, one other device (small)
2. Medium drones – two small sensors or one medium sensor and two small devices.
3. Large drones – four small sensors or two medium sensors, one medium device or two small. Possibility to convert it into a quadcopter for one astronaut, when a special seat installed in the device slot.
The sensors for drones can be almost the same as for the satellites, but mostly smaller:
1. Camera – you would be able to fly into every hole and see if it is safe to walk in, provided it is not too dark or you have extra light installed on the drone.
2. Infrared – you would be able to see in the dark, but without colours.
3. LIDAR – elevation.
4. Geological – mapping resources
5. Radar/radio receiver – probes, spaceships, vehicles, beacons.
6. Research sample scanner – for scanning small research samples, mapping big samples and assessing their byte values.
To fly a drone you can either:
1. Control it manually and then you see what the drone sees.
2. Control it using AI, for which you would need an AI/autopilot module installed in the drone and a drone control computer nearby.
In general, drones would give you a chance to explore places and checking if they are safe before sending an astronaut. They would also provide updates to maps on the personal computer/tablet, but on a small, local scale, mostly on demand (for example in between satellite updates). However, they would be able to do it also automatically, if auto-piloted. Also, they would not have any problems with clouds as they would fly below them.
They would be able to fly only within a specified range around the pilot or when auto-piloted, around a drone control computer (medium size device). This range could be extended by telemetry towers. But then the drone would need extra batteries to be able to safely go further and come back.
Drones would have to be charged. There should be two ways of charging.
1. By plugging to a generator/power grid/rover.
2. By landing on a large drone landing pad.
Small drones could start from ground or backpack; medium drones - from ground or vehicles; large drones - from ground or landing pad (which could also be attached to large rovers)
Devices that could be installed on drones:
1. AI/autopilot – flies the drone automatically on pre-defined missions (a number of them, a queue of different missions or on loop until autopilot switched off) over pre-defined area. This module requires a drone control computer on the ground/rover and satnav coverage in the flight area. So until you have a working satnav system, you can only fly drones manually.
2. Light – for flying in the dark.
3. Horn – when the atmospheric conditions are bad and you want to signal other players.
4. Battery/small solar/generators – extend the flight time.
5. Tether placer – a device that would allow for placing tethers from the drone.
6. Small item dropping device (medium module) – would allow you to drop two small items where you want them. For example when you want to quickly deliver an oxygen filter, a battery or anything else to another player or when you want to place a beacon in a specific place you can only access by drone.
7. Seed planter – a device for planting seeds. I can see the use of it when the drone is auto-piloted. Players collect seeds and leave them on the drone landing pad and drones automatically plant them in a specific area.
8. Item collector (medium module) – can pick up one or two small items from the ground. The same module could be used on rovers to put item on trailers without the need of stopping and getting off.
9. Special devices for EXO missions – locating x-mass presents, etc.