The Future of Bridge Simulation
A Reimagining of Bridge Simulators
Have you ever flown in a starship bridge simulator? If you have, I bet you can tell me, with detail, what job you did on the bridge, what mission you flew, and how awesome it was to complete your objectives. These kinds of experiences stay with us for our entire lives.
Thorium Nova is the product of years of building great bridge simulator experiences for both crews and flight directors. It takes the best parts of Thorium, like the flight director controls and timeline, and combines them with exciting new concepts, like a Star Map and inter-ship crew maps.
These new paradigms are woven into every part of the controls, creating an entirely new, unforgettable experience — whether flying your flight at a space center, from home, or over the internet.
“Alex has been programming Space Ship controls for as long as I've known him, and that's been nearly 10 years!”
What is a Bridge Simulator?
Bridge Simulators, like Thorium Nova, are cooperative live-action role-playing games set in space. Players act out the roles of a spaceship bridge crew, such as communications officer, navigator, or captain. They work together to complete a set of mission objectives.
In Thorium Classic, a flight director sits behind the scenes to act as a game master, controlling what happens inside the simulation, acting out the roles of aliens the crew encounters, and guiding the crew through the storyline.
Many bridge simulators, like Artemis or Empty Epsilon, focus on arcade action. Thorium Classic is suited for rich storytelling through talented flight directors.
Thorium Nova attempts to bridge the gap by offering rich stories in a dynamic environment, while staying simple enough for anyone to enjoy among friends in their living room.
“Thorium enables the flight director and crew. I’m a natural storyteller and Thorium opens up a world of possibilities and opportunities for creative storytelling.”
Thorium Nova keeps the best parts of Thorium intact:
- Powerful flight director controls, enabling deeply emotional storylines and unscripted narrations.
- Expressive mission timeline builder for crafting storylines.
- Easy to use interface — just run the server on one computer and connect via web browser.
- First-class show control features, like DMX lighting and sound effects.
Thorium Nova also adds exciting new features:
- A 3D Star Map which enables a beautiful viewscreen showing planets, stars, and ships in space.
- Robust crew simulation, tracking the position and actions of every crew member on the ship.
- Powerful timeline automations, making flights possible without flight directors.
- Simpler, more approachable flight director controls, with a focus on helping beginners succeed.
- A sturdy networking architecture, making flights over the internet possible.
“Thorium’s creation by Alex has been a long, yet rewarding adventure. His product has changed my workplace for the better.”
Why should I sign up for updates?
Thorium Nova is going to be under development for a little while before it becomes publicly available. In the meantime, you can sign up for the newsletter.
- Get regular (weekly at most) updates about the progress of Thorium Nova
- Learn what goes into making a starship bridge simulator as it happens
- Get access to exclusive content and a discount at launch, only available to newsletter subscribers
- Provide feedback and suggestions for how Thorium Nova should work
- Show your support for Thorium Nova, which helps me gague interest
Frequently Asked Questions
What is going to happen to Thorium Classic?
Thorium Classic will still be available and maintained for the foreseeable future. Thorium Nova does nothing to eliminate the value of Thorium Classic. On the contrary, things developed for Thorium Nova might end up making their way back into Thorium Classic.
In the event that Thorium Classic development has to cease, the project is open source so anyone can download the source code and make their own changes or fixes.
When will Thorium Nova be completed?
Development started on Thorium Nova in the Summer of 2020, and will likely continue for at least a year before a playable demo is made available. Fortunately, many of the lessons learned during Thorium Classic’s development can speed the development process of Thorium Nova.
Why didn’t you just build new features into Thorium Classic?
Building these features into Thorium Classic would be a dramatic departure from the normal way of using Thorium. Instead of trying to wrangle Thorium to work with this new paradigm, it makes more sense to create an entirely separate product.
Doing so has a lot of benefits. We get to start over with the designs and functionality; old code in Thorium can be replaced with the latest technologies; poorly implemented or rarely used features can be removed entirely, making the product simpler, easier-to-use, and ultimately more impactful for flight directors and crew members.
Additionally, Thorium Nova will be intentionally designed from the ground up to support the needs of a broader audience than Thorium Classic. While the original Thorium was focused on supporting brick and mortar space centers, Thorium Nova is designed with the hobbyist in mind, bringing the space simulator experience to anywhere that has an internet connection.
Will Thorium Nova be customizable?
Customization is still an open question. I like what customizability Thorium Classic has, but the features that are intended for Thorium Nova are really difficult to get right while making it infinitely customizable.
It’s much more likely that Thorium Nova will support a plugin or mod system which allows intrepid hackers to add or modify aspects of Thorium gameplay. This would include creating custom themes and layouts, adding new ships, modifying the properties of ship systems, creating new solar systems and worlds (or an entirely new universe altogether), defining factions, and writing random encounters, like second storylines which run parallel to the primary story.
Will Thorium Nova be open-source like Thorium Classic?
Thorium Classic being open-source is one of my favorite parts about it. I love that anyone can examine and contribute to a robust set of simulator controls.
That said, it doesn’t have a sustainable business model. Donations for Thorium Classic are relatively low, and external contributions are infrequent. It really has been a labor of love for me.
Thorium Nova will be a commercial product. You will pay to download the server software which you can use to run a simulation at home. Prices and terms haven’t been decided yet.
If I get a substantial number of patrons — between 100 and 200 — on the Thorium Patreon page, then I will consider open-sourcing Thorium Nova.
Where did that cool logo and cover image come from?
I made the logo myself, based on the original Thorium logo. That symbol is called the “Triquetra” and is associated with the god Thor in Norse mythology. Seems appropriate to use with a product named after the God of Thunder.
The cover image was also generated by myself in Blender, using a 3D model and planet texture which ship with Thorium and a procedurally generated background and ring system. This isn’t exactly what the Star Map will look like, but I hope to make it at least somewhat close.
Hi There! 👋
I'm Alex, creator of Thorium, Space EdVentures, and countless other simulator controls. I was a professional flight director at the Christa McAullife Space Center for 4 years and helped build the USS Voyager II.