Base Computer Interface

Development directions, tasks, and features being actively implemented or pursued by the development team.

Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri May 14, 2010 9:58 am

Neskiairti wrote:no, you really don't need to know all that.. all you need to know "is it better?" "can i aford it?" the question of how much better may come up, and you may want to know that, but you don't need it.


Bullshit. There is rarely if ever a "better" in a balanced, quality game, and in this area VS is not meant to be an exception. Different weapons work better in different situations or with different tactics. If I don't know how exactly those weapons work I can't apply them or wield them effectively. Knowing the range, falloff, precision, DPS, ammunition / energy consumption of a weapon is how I know where, when and how to engage enemies, or what weapons to outfit with for a planned mission.

If it isn't useful for me too know these things then there is something wrong with the balancing and it needs to be fixed. Either the weapons in the game don't compliment each other, being simple upgrades instead (weapon A is better than B, is better than C, etc.) or the weapons aren't different enough from each other for there to be any reason in having so many weapons.

"A queen is better than a rook, a rook is better than a knight, a knight is better than a bishop, a bishop is better than a pawn." That isn't enough information to play chess and it is too simplistic to be accurate, too.

games these days love to bombard you with information, spreadsheets and number crunching.. being 'good' at world of warcraft for instance.. is a nightmare of spreadsheets.. you need to know exactly the mechanics behind each stat and balance your spread across them... OR you need to have some one who figured it out, tell you the secret build... and then the creators decide to change the rules on you every patch and only tell you 'this rule has changed' but not necessarily tell you how..

and I wont even get in to EVE :p

what this produces is alot of really bad players, who either just started, or never learned that they need to know which is better. if the game told them out and out "this is better" or at the very least, taught them how to learn their mechanics instead of just leaving it a mire of confusion.. the game wouldnt be filled with as many fucking idiots :p


Those aren't real games, they're MMORPG's. So of course they are filled with many fucking idiots and have shit balance. They're the television of games, and likewise they exist only to charge you a quarterly fee.

But that aside, the reason there's a problem with ship/weapon stats being too important in VS is because they are too important! Not because they are visible to players! The game needs to make human skill and coordination and timing and everything else the player actual does in battle, more important, and less so what tech he has and how "better" it is. But that's not a problem you can solve with a new user interface.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Fri May 14, 2010 12:28 pm

+1 Siddis.

The game has been rebalanced time and again since I've been around (ie: two times). But none got it right, because, as you say, the "rock-paper-scissors" factor is missing.

There's some documentation about the fact, though.

Lasers are supposed to cut through shields like butter, but be bulky and primarily a capship weapon, for instance... IIRC. And stuff like that.

Someone should grep the wiki, find all those tiny perls, put them toghether somewhere, sit on them, with love, and come up with a well defined set of game dynamics that stick to canon as much as possible and still produce a sensible, balanced ecosystem.

But principles. The stats really don't matter, the stats get worked out later.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Fri May 14, 2010 2:03 pm

different way of looking at it I suppose. I usually prefer playing a game, not learning a new mathmatic equation and spending 6 weeks trying to figure out what actually works :p

simpler is better in these cases.. atleast outwardly. if its a rock paper scisors, you say that up front, and say what it hurts and what it doesn't, you dont hide it under a ton of other information displayed in an almost entirely useless way.

what the player needs to know, you put front and center, and ONLY the very basics.. everything else is to be learned but not necessary, otherwise you are doing it wrong.

and actually, user interface is the most important part of teaching a user to play the game.
what information you provide them, how you provide it, how you lead them to the rest of the information without crowding the important stuff out..

Stats are fun, tucked away for the power gamers, but beyond "this is better" stats should not be the end all and be all that you have to spend 6 weeks mastering.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Fri May 14, 2010 2:22 pm

Neskiairti wrote:different way of looking at it I suppose. I usually prefer playing a game, not learning a new mathmatic equation and spending 6 weeks trying to figure out what actually works :p

simpler is better in these cases.. atleast outwardly. if its a rock paper scisors, you say that up front, and say what it hurts and what it doesn't, you dont hide it under a ton of other information displayed in an almost entirely useless way.


For that there are descriptions. VS has descriptions that focus a bit too much in the technical aspects of how a system is supposed to work, or in jokes, but doesn't cover the intended use of a system. That could be fixed.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Deus Siddis » Fri May 14, 2010 6:29 pm

klauss wrote:There's some documentation about the fact, though.
Lasers are supposed to cut through shields like butter, but be bulky and primarily a capship weapon, for instance... IIRC. And stuff like that.
Someone should grep the wiki, find all those tiny perls, put them toghether somewhere, sit on them, with love, and come up with a well defined set of game dynamics that stick to canon as much as possible and still produce a sensible, balanced ecosystem.


All the old canon general information on weapons isn't on the wiki I don't think, but it is in the last 1/5 of the universe document. So here you go--

Code: Select all
On Weaponry, Defense, and Damage in the VS universe
 
So, assuming one has the ability to diddle with the surrounding space (leaving discussion
of whether this, or any other stated principle, was/could be a good choice for a
fundamental assumption to another time) how might one construct a shield? 
Well, I thought perhaps one could set up something based around gravitic shear forces
(locally violent, but, with opposing forces mostly cancelling each other out at greater
distance due to super-linear falloff). 
I then figured it would probably be worthwhile to augment such a setup with an EM
component, so as to assist against charged particles, as charged particles are easy to
accelerate, and therefore a likely choice in assorted weapons systems. So, when
descriptions (minimal as they were) were written for shields, they were reffered to as
providing a combination of gravitic and electro-magnitic protection. 
 
Now, where did this lead me (at least as far as I saw it) - almost everything except for
something that looks like a shield should penetrate a shield in some manner to some
degree. 
(a brief aside: ship collisions are somewhat outside the scope of this post - suffice it to
say that they should be much more catastrophic than they are, but the reason is not related
to shields - it's that our damage model only works on energy right now, and doesn't look
at time related components, so if a ship smacks into something at 300m/s and bounces off
at 100m/s in the opposite direction we apply damage due to the loss of kinetic energy, but
don't currently address the problem that, if this collision took 1/10 of a second, the ship
experienced an acceleration of 400g's, the pilot should be paste (even assuming some
(limited) means of inertial compensation as a cheap way to warp space may be deemed to
provide), and the ship should be assorted bits of fine debris - this is a bug, a feature
failure in need of fixing. We don't have a model for acceleration tolerance, clearly, we
need one.) 
 
LASERS and other coherent EM radiation - hard to get a beam of light to interact
strongly with this setup at all (unless one assumes that photons passing through the
distorted topology can be convinced to dump energy and shift down the frequency
spectrum in return for degrading the desired topology - but the more that I've thought
about that, the less it appeals to me, so let's not spend much time there) but it might
interact weakly, de-focusing the beam. For low frequency radiation, de-focusing is going
to be quite detrimental (in terms of the likelihood of armor being capable of dealing with
incoming beam) but one imagines that xasers and grasers are still going to be quite
damaging even if the incoming beam is distorted and defocused. Hence, at best, fair
protection against low end laser weapons, to negligible protection against high-end laser
weapons. This tranlucency (not transparency) has the benefit of making it easier to
explain how EM spectrum sensor data gets in, but causes some problems with pilot-line-
of-sight (upon further reflection, I've come to the opinion that chuck raised an excellent
point with respect to his comment about the insistence of early astronaughts on capsule
windows - there are only two major human groups in the VS universe with pilots that
likely wouldn't demand the same, if not windows per se, then some semi-direct optical
access (I also briefly, and not in particular seriousness, pondered the notion of an "optical fuse"  )- but this delves into a whole other train of thought, so I'll stop it here for now.) 
 
Solid objects - should interact fairly strongly with the shear forces. Complex objects
could end up giving up non-negligible amounts of energy in undergoing deformation or
otherwise smacking into bits of themselves. However, given high initial velocity, sizeable
portions of the incoming remnants of the object will not be sufficiently diverted and will
still intercept the target. This is still a preferable scenario, as a defocused impact of
something more resembling dust and shrapnel should be a lot easier for armor to handle
than an intact shell. (Unless of course, one doesn't have armor, in which case one may
have just traded one set of holes for many sets of holes.) 
 
Particle beams - 
A) Charged - high velocity makes them hard to divert with the gravitics, again just
gaining a defocusing, but that's what the EM systems are there for helping out with. Still,
in the end it's just a very good defocusing and diverting, and can't be expected to stop all
the incoming particles completely. 
B) Neutralized - EM field doesn't help in any meaningful way, defocused, moreso than a
laser, but protection is pretty poor, and it's mostly up to the armor. 
 
Plasma - 
A)Net-neutral, or B) net-charged clouds of high temperature ionized particles that are
likely to be fairly effectively diverted by an EM field unless the plasma density was quite
high at the time of intereaction (still efficiently diverted in such a case, but perhaps not
effectively). 
 
Shields and shield-like weapons - 
Directly act upon the topology created by the shields, significantly degrading them.
However the directness of their interaction also means that their effects do not penetrate
the shields. 
 
How I saw this playing out in terms of game mechanics: 
 
Firstly, as shields degraded (topology becoming unstructured, shear forces going away),
anything that penetrates a shield already would penetrate more. The EM field wouldn't
degrade in the same manner as the space-warping component, but it was only useful in
mitigating charged particles anyway. 
 
Lasers - would seem to be quite nasty beasts in that they mostly ignore shields, especially
at higher frequencies, except that lasers have lousy energy efficiency, especially at higher
frequencies, and especially given that laser inefficiency tends to materialize as waste
heat. Thus I saw lasers as weapons with extreme cooling problems, either resorting to
open cycle cooling (venting coolant = limited ammo, limited refire rate) or _very_ slow
refire rates (also a source of perhaps interesting complexity if/when any form of heat
modeling gets implemented). Likewise, the higher frequency lasers would be
prohibitively expensive and potentially bulky beasts, probably not found in small craft.
Additionally, as they don't interact strongly with shields, they wouldn't be good weapons for degrading them rapidly. Range would be good though, (lasers don't degrade as the
inverse square, but diffract according to something along the lines of RT = 0.61 * D * L /
RL 
where: 
RT = beam radius at target (m) 
D = distance from laser emitter to target (m) 
L = wavelength of laser beam (m) 
RL = radius of laser lens or reflector (m) 

 
Solid objects - Lower energy requirements (could also have internal energy sources, as
per rockets), easier cooling solutions, good rates of fire, degraded by shields but degrade
shields, and become increasingly effective as the shield degrades. Limited ammunition.
Can be augmented (at increased size/cost) by addition of shielding, and/or nuclear or anti-
matter warheads. At the (expected relative) velocity these would be impacting at,
conventional explosives would not be useful additions. Damage does not decrease with
range (although for reasons of limited processing power, a "max range" still needs to be
specified engine level). 
 
Particle beams - 
A)Charged - low yield electron beams can already be made with very high efficiency -
but cranking up the power will drop the efficiency a lot. More importantly, any charged
particle beam suffers from severe thermal and electro-static bloom. The constant on the
superlinear (I believe it's actually an inverse-square) decay in beam density can be helped
by using more massive particles, or accelerating to relativistic velocities for the sake of
time dialation, but at the expense of efficiency (significant relativistic velocities are a
_huge_ energy investment, neutrons are dead weight to an EM accelerator, and only so
many electrons can be conveniently added to or removed from an atom). To make
matters worse, one's ship will accumulate net charge if repeatedly firing a charged beam,
unless the excess charge is bled off somehow (I've seen indications that alternating
between positive and negatively charged firings is a "bad idea (tm)" due to creating a
current loop involving the vessel). So, to sum up, the range is pretty bad, the efficiency is
questionable, there's probably a hell of a refire delay as one cleans up the charge
accumulation problem, and EM fields can do a lot to defocus the incoming beam.
However, if you are close enough, and your particle density is high enough, then what
does get through would do nasty things to armor, surface mounted electronics, and throw
off lots of secondary radiation. 
B) Neutralized - (and by neutralized I don't mean "neutron beams", because I haven't the
foggiest idea how to generate or accelerate them effectively in anything resembling a
coherent beam unless we start talking about space-warping that is probably powerful
enough that'd we'd have to go back and revisit the whole "can't do to much to photons"
issue which I'd rather not, and besides, that would probably mean that shields were
impervious to just about anything... which is rather much not the goal either) more
specifically, a beam of particles that has been rendered charge neutral; one in which
oppositely charged particles (likely electrons) are added back in after acceleration (both
must have been accelerated) to neutralize the beam. This will almost certainly defocus the beam, and again almost certainly drop efficiency even lower. However, it avoids the local
charge accumulation problem, this removes electrostatic bloom, leaving only thermal
bloom, increasing range, and it also negates the effectiveness of EM fields to disperse the
beam at the target. However, it also negates the current and charge accumulation effects
on the target that might damage electronics. Still, plenty unpleasant on impact, only
mildly affected by shields, but range isn't as good compared to lasers, and efficiency is
only questionably better, and could easily raise similar cooling/refire issues. 
 
So, as for beams - mediocre range due to bloom effects, efficiency questionable,
neutralized beams achieve good penetration against shields at cost of even lower
efficiency, charged beams have lousy penetration against shields, but can probably be
used in efforts to disable the target's electronics (at the least, those present on the surface,
or accessible by necessity (engine/reactor) - the core protected elements are going to have
to be in some faraday cages with optical links to the externals (optical links don't like
shear forces though, so they could break with some probability upon impact or impact
resembling damage). Ammunition (the particles in question) necessary, but in sufficiently
small quantities per firing that it can either be ignored or modeled as extremely cheap,
small, and plentiful. Some noticeable degradation of shields due to some interaction. 
 
 
Plasma - Last I investigated, unless there's some way to make plasma somehow generate
its own magnetic fields of exceptionally interesting (read: somewhat absurd) strength, or
one wants to accelerate the plasma to very high velocity (which would start to look
something more like a shorter pulsed version of the the beams above), it's not going to be
an effective weapon at anything beyond the shortest of ranges, because it expands like no
one's business (our dear friend the inverse square law, but with indications of unforgiving
constants, the prevalence of plasma weapons in many sci-fi works notwithstanding) and
in every direction. High-tech flamethrowers with interesting electrical properties are cool,
but not very effective unless one is close enough to read the serial numbers on the target's
fuzzy dice, neverminding the effects of EM fields on ions, which further limits
effectiveness. 
 
In short, one could build the bolt (short pulse) rather than beam version of a particle
beam, and it would be rather similar to the particle beams, and not what one traditionally
calls a plasma weapon. Or, one could build a reasonably efficient plasma weapon, but be
limited by rapid falloff to the shortest of ranges. Ammo for plasma weapons should be in
the dirt cheap, small, and exceptionally plentiful category. If you're actually close enough
to get any reasonable number of particles past the EM fields, you'll do nasty things to the
electronics, and you can probably afford to keep firing for a while. Shield degradation
can be somewhat more pronounced than particle beams if more matter is being thrown at
the target. 
 
Shields-and shield based weapons- 
Ammo, none. Shield penetration, none. Efficiency, mediocre-poor, hence refire, fair-
slow. Target shield degredation better than any other damage source. Transmitted
damage after shield collapse (topology unstructured) worse than any other damage source, but non-zero. Damage vs. unshielded objects significant. 
 
Missiles - Mostly depends on warhead type. Shielded kinetic is one option, single shot
weapons of various types also options, as are bomb pumped lasers or simple nukes. Ultra-
low-yield (0.5 - 1 ton range) fusion warheads are presumed commonly available
(preferable to chemical explosives due to the manner of transmission of the energy,
namely, high frequency radiaton and neutrons).


But principles. The stats really don't matter, the stats get worked out later.


Well I would propose that we build off of the above principles, but with a couple changes:

1) Get rid of electrogravitics. It's bullshit, fake science. We don't need that kind of magic outside of FTL. Using EM to defend against particle weapons is fine of course though.

2) Ball lightning as a charged particle weapon. A particle weapon without 'bloom', IOW no falloff (maybe a max range though, not sure). And perhaps versions with a slower moving, shell or even guided missile like projectile that doesn't cost any ammunition (only a little fuel; reaction mass from your engines' ). As an in-game example, the green glowing ball weapon the Thales shoots at you in current versions is essentially one of these weapons.

Then the "Solid" weapons category needs to be expanded on, as far as how the projectiles are accelerated, (solid fuel rockets, charged particle thruster missiles, railguns and coilguns and the like, etc.) and how they deliver a punch (pure impact, special warheads, etc.) These can be broken down into subtypes that have different guiding principles as well.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby chuck_starchaser » Sun May 16, 2010 9:18 am

Good post; I had never read that. Where's that "universe document", btw? I'd like to read the whole thing.

Deus wrote:1) Get rid of electrogravitics. It's bullshit, fake science. We don't need that kind of magic outside of FTL. Using EM to defend against particle weapons is fine of course though.
100% agreed; but let's elaborate for the benefit of less science-aware readers:
JackS originally described "shields" as being some kind of "space-time deformations", more effective against kinetic weapons, in fact, that against beams. I took him to task about explaining these deformations. I was not aware of this document, and it seems now obvious that he did think about it a bit and changed the working description. In this document he speaks of "electro-gravitic shear forces". That doesn't satisfy me in the least. The term "forces" is used here in its most un-scientific, star-trekkish manner, like the infamous, offensive term "force field". Force is what results from the interaction between a field and an object, such as a magnetic field and a magnetic material. It doesn't make sense to speak of "forces" as if they were floating vectors without an object to apply to. Describing shields as "shear forces" of any nature is absurd. Perhaps describing shields as "fields that cause shear forces on matter moving through them" would be more acceptable. But even doing so would not suffice:
The problem is that deflecting a kinetic object implies accelerating it away from its trajectory, so that by the time it would be reaching its target it would have moved far enough off its intended trajectory as to miss. But if we consider this "miss distance" and apply
Code: Select all
 s = 1/2 a t^2
and
Code: Select all
a=f/m
such that
Code: Select all
s = 1/2 * f/m * t^2
we see that not only f needs to increase linearly with m to achieve a given deflection distance s, but it also needs to increase with the square of the inverse of the time the projectile spends interacting with the shield; such that deflecting a fast, kinetic projectile, either the shield should be kilometers in radius to increase that t, or involve ridiculously strong forces.
Now, suppose we could produce ridiculously strong forces... What would they rest against? Something needs to act as an anchor point for a force, and if this were some kind of electromagnet, for instance, it means the reaction force would act upon the coil, which would be anchored on a core; and the question begs itself: would these be made of stronger materials than the projectiles being deflected?
Furthermore, the ridiculousness of the forces involved is such that both: the kinetic projectile AND the coils, cores, or whatever provides the anchor for the produced deflecting force, would at least be liquified, if not vaporized.
In other words, speaking of any kind of "field" that deflects kinetic munitions boils down to assuming that forces as strong as those involved at the instant when a depleted uranium shell strikes a tank's armor could somehow be purposely produced at a distance off the armor, without reactive force consequences, AND originating somehow from a uniformly distributed "field" that surrounds the whole ship, as opposed to a concentrated, directed field.
It boggles the mind that something so absurd would be seriously contemplated by anybody; --least of all someone educated like JackS.

I think what this belies is an inverted priority paradigm: The *what* comes before the *how*, generally. It seems to me that JackS simply considered shields to be a necessity, like FTL, and then groped hopelessly for ways to explain them.
The same is evident when he tackles weapon systems other than kinetic: a "Particle and plasma weapons are a given; let's try and explain them now: ..." -kind of paradigm.
To his credit, though, he explored some of the absurd assumptions, such as being able to accelerate neutrons, or keeping plasma together as "bolts" possessing their own confinement fields such as would be needed to avoid their natural tendency to quick dispersal as they travel towards their target.
EDIT:
The "ball lightning" idea is interesting. (Current theory in ball lightning is that it's a soliton wave. Look up "soliton" in wikipedia.) But we must still question the usefulness of throwing balls of plasma, in the first place.

((Not to mention the question of what would make being hit by a bolt of plasma feel like more than an open-hand slap; --perhaps a "hair raising experience".))
As to the why this has been his modus operandi, I don't know; but I suspect it's either a reluctance to change UTCS game data already produced based on fantasy terms; or a perceived need to have these specific types offensive and defensive systems in order for a space game to exist or be playable and fun; or both.

But you can't explain fantasy using science: Fantasy is basically undefeatable. People who know neither the meaning of "force" nor of "field" decide to put the two words together into "force field", and that's completely meaningless. Science condemns such horrors; it does NOT explain them. The same goes for people who have no idea what a neutron is, and a fraction of an idea what a gun is, and come up with "neutron gun". Science doesn't *want* to explain a neutron gun; it wants to laugh at it. Suppose instead of trying to accelerate neutrons we'd set up a proton accelerator and then cause them to emit a positron and turn into neutrons while in flight, somehow. What would a stream of neutrons achieve, anyways? Make parts of the target radioactive? Kill the pilot slowly, over years afterwards, from exposure?

I question the need to support, abide by, and represent such fantasy terms. I question the assumption that absurdities are necessary, in general. Some absurdities, such as FTL, such as being able to fully radiate excess heat, etceteras, may be hard to live without; but I see no need for shields, no need for "electrogravitics", no need for plasma weapons or neutron guns or tractor/repulsor beams or "inertial compensators".

So, I think we need to use an ax first, to tackle the bulk of all this huge amount of crap; --and a scalpel maybe much later.

R.E. fantasy ~?~ playability/fun: Donno where the idea comes from. I doubt a technology allowing you to fly over obstacles would make car racing games more fun; but someone could argue that being unable to avoid an imminent crash would be "not fun". Such was the typical mental process in Hellcat's head at all times... As I said to him once in chat, paraphrasing myself: "Once we *really* conquer space, as in mining asteroids, and we have millions of people livig in hundreds of space stations around the solar system, we WILL have pirates; we WILL have national and corporate space-born militaries and paramilitaries, etceteras. And it WILL be "fun", --or make for fun reading at least. And yet, there will be no inertial compensators or tractor beams or neutron guns or goblydook shields involved. So, all we have to figure out is how, in realistic terms, things will play out." I.O.W., we don't need to assume that the future reality will be boring, and that only fantasy can be fun. I think we humans are bound by nature to make our lives fun, one way or the other. Of course, we did bore ourselves to death more and more since the 1960's, but the ongoing economic collapse is probably a natural adjustment, among other things: Enough of the recent trend towards safety and comfort and attendant loss of liberty; now we'll value liberty more than comfort, as shown in Thailand, Greece, Kyrgistan, etceteras; --I think that's a prelude to what's to come around the world.

But I'm getting side-tracked. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that instead of implicitly assuming that reality will be boring in the future, therefore fantasy technologies are necessary, therefore we should have them first, then figure how they work; we could more simply and profitably assume that reality will be fun in the future, and try to figure out how it will play out. ((And stop being copy-cats... Just because most space fantasies have "shields" doesn't mean that they are mandatory.))
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Sun May 16, 2010 12:32 pm

@chuck: force field is a real, physical term that defines a function that maps any space coordinate to a resulting force vector. A gravity well is a force field, only, as you said, dependent on some attributes of the interacting bodies (mass). So force fields do exist, its only our ability to produce extremely abnormal force fields the one in question.

I believe JackS already explained why shields would be useless. Read the document once and again, you'll notice how he comes up to the conclusion that shields would interact poorly with any kind of interesting object, natural or man-made. With such "canon" in place, I would explore the possibility of modelling shields as they are: a local topology change around ships that destroy incoming objects, disarranges them, removing almost any structural properties they may have. Their kinetic energy remains unchanged, but you can't push, say, a nuclear warhead past a shield. The shield would disassemble it. Does that seem to have gameplay value? (I believe there's potential value there).

One such force field exists naturally around singularities. We would be assuming humanity has the ability to manufacture fields as extreme as the ones found around singularities. Not a small thing, it may be a real consistency problem in canon if we assumed that.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby chuck_starchaser » Mon May 17, 2010 7:25 am

Klauss, there's practical considerations that make what you're proposing a total NO-NO. Suppose we've mastered a technology so advanced as to produce synthetic singularities... Then, what is NOT possible?
Why? Just produce a singularity in the middle of an opposing fleet and watch it being sucked into oblivion. Food synthesizers, time travel...

This is yet another argument against fanciful technologies; namely, once you allow one, you've indulged in a moral hazard whereby you have no ammunition to argue against any.

Thus, the criteria ought to be a short leash: A technology should be allowed if it doesn't contradict fundamental laws of physics AND there is some conceivable way to achieve it --as in a plan, a schematic, etceteras; and, given those schematics, it should be clear that there are no theoretical barriers to its existance; no reliance on materials orders of magnitude stronger than at present, or things like that. I could be wrong, but I don't think I've seen detailed schematics for equipment that could conceivably produce singularities; so singularities are out, as far as I'm concerned.

And if anyone will argue that we'd go further than that in science and technology in 1000 years, then ask them for a detailed forecast of exactly what technologies will exist then, and why. Arthur C. Clarke attempted just that, back in the 50's: a very detailed and exhaustive analysis of where technology would go in the next 50 years, and his forecasts proved right about 20% of the time, which is a colossal achievement. 1000 years is 20 times 50 years, and so, someone as smart as Arthur could be expected to be right 0.2^20, so we need someone a few billion times smarter for this job.
Or else we can assume one of two things:
  • a) there are science limits to what can be done, and technological achievement is asymptotic to those limits, so not much progress is left, or
  • b) our civilization collapses due to
    • 1) unresolved, inherent problems with money, which tends to become illiquid without free lending, necessitating constant inflation; or causes constant growth of debt, with free lending, until debts cannot be serviced and need to be monetized; while transnational banking conspiracies who knew this continue to use these cycles to their own advantage, trying to form a world government with themselves at the top (New World Order); and don't give up power even as the world descends into chaos, since they consider depopulation a beneficial change (e.g. Rockefeller), or
    • 2) unrestrained population growth proves Maltus right, food production can't keep up and we die like brewer's bacteria once they finish their job, or
    • 3) Earth goes into an out of control warming trend all the way back to the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM, +6 deg.C), sea level goes up 200 feet, as Antarctic and Greenland ice and most glaciers melt, flooding all coastal cities and a lot of agricultural land; then the oceans become anoxic, hydrogen sulfide sea burps travel over land killing all that breathes, and ... well ... there'd be no UTCS then, so forget it, or
    • 4) Earth temperature spikes up enough to cause ocean currents to stop momentarily, and we go into a rapid cooling leading to a glacial period, which we humans can at least survive, if in much smaller numbers, as we've lived through many glaciations before, and so technology continues to advance, but much more slowly, or
    • 5) Some or all of the above, or
  • c) Both.

As far as "force fields", you're obviously talking about gravity, which is often spoken of as an "acceleration field", and which term makes a lot more sense.
Otherwise, "force field" is a mental abstraction about a given field, and what force it *would* produce on some reference object of given characteristics; but what I'm opposed to is the ignorant use of the term which causes most people to think of forces (without an object to apply to) floating statically in space.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon May 17, 2010 8:41 am

chuck_starchaser wrote:EDIT:
The "ball lightning" idea is interesting. (Current theory in ball lightning is that it's a soliton wave. Look up "soliton" in wikipedia.) But we must still question the usefulness of throwing balls of plasma, in the first place.

((Not to mention the question of what would make being hit by a bolt of plasma feel like more than an open-hand slap; --perhaps a "hair raising experience".))


My understanding is that because charged particles can be manipulated electromagnetically, you can do similar but different things to them that you could do to EM conductive solid projectiles in a mass driver type weapon. So you can accelerate them to very high speeds to deliver focused kinetic energy directly (like a railgun).

And because you can use EM forces to hold them away from solid parts of your hull, they can be heated to very high temperatures without just melting your own ship. So I think you would be able to deliver some very high temperatures to the target's hull (like a laser).

Maybe this is a logic leap, but it seems like the same properties that make this kind of technology useful for thrusters makes it useful for weapons at least.

Finally, when a ball lightning "vessel" ruptures (as in against an enemy ship), the now uncountered force of the particles pushing against each other violently might accelerate them into something like an explosion. How much of an explosion would probably be the question.

As to the why this has been his modus operandi, I don't know; but I suspect it's either a reluctance to change UTCS game data already produced based on fantasy terms; or a perceived need to have these specific types offensive and defensive systems in order for a space game to exist or be playable and fun; or both.


I don't know either, but it could also be that he was the first to really push for realism, but this was as far as he was allowed to go-- that he could only try to explain shields, it wasn't politically possible to remove them from canon at that time.

We do know that he told to come up with a FTL explanation(s) though, because the eventual multiplayer support was a game design requirement which eliminated time elapsing and cryogenics to act as the stage curtain for big scene changes. So he might have had other requirements he was ordered to work around, which weren't hard scifi, or that a lot of technologies related to the fantastical FTL explanation (space warping) came in on the same boat.

As for making things playable and fun, I don't think that explains much because for example lasers aren't any more visible in a vacuum than kinetic weapons and shields aren't any better or more realistic of an explanation for regenerating defenses than say sacrificial armor replaced by autonomous means (little service bots crawling on the hull) or self regenerating armor of some kind or a defensive system based around charged particles.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Mon May 17, 2010 9:43 am

I wasn't proposing singularities, only force fields as extreme as those found around them. Notice there's a big difference between the two, a singularity might swallow an entire star system, a force field cannot, no matter how extreme, if some restrictions are applied.

Notice that some people (I don't think scientists... but I haven't researched the matter) are making a fuss about particle colliders because collision energies are getting so huge that they're concerned they might produce microsingularities (which, in fact, are more destructive than big singularities due to hawking radiation during evaporation).
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Mon May 17, 2010 4:46 pm

um.. okay.. one major problem with the hawking radiation :p blackholes potentially produced in a particle accelerator... isnt going to have the mass of a moon.. let alone a person.. it may potentially emit extremely high energy particles, but those particles would be of such a minute volume as to be harmless.

and im not sure how hawking radiation has anything to do with force fields..

case in point is the effects of a high mass cosmic ray. I have heard of cosmic rays hitting detectors that are heavy and or fast enough to cause micro explosions in the heavy water tanks.. but at most that would be like lighting off a very tiny firecracker in some part of you're body.

another point is the heat generated by bubbles in the ocean. for instance, over time they severely damage propellers, as each little bubble when it ruptures against the propeller detonates with the heat of some 10,000 suns i believe... but it is with such a finite ammount of mass and duration.. it really does almost nothing

those micro black holes would be even less massive than a bubble.. at most a few dozen particles. Due to the laws described by hawking radiation, these would have a lifespan of such a tiny amount of time as to be un-detectable really, and that life span is the duration of its 'radiation'. the intensity of the radiation would be extreme.. but with only a few dozen particles, no one would notice.

this is why those micro-blackhole fear mongers are laughed at :p

mind you, I could be off on some of this, please feel free to correct me where I am misinformed.. this is not my area of focus.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Mon May 17, 2010 7:46 pm

@neskiairti, IIRC, the things they fear was that of producing a blob of strange matter. Strange matter is theorized to be unstable up to a certain concentration, and after that it becomes stable and catalytic (converts regular matter into strange matter). Once enough strange matter accumulates, a sizable black hole may result. But the theory has a particularly important constant yet undefined, one that cuould rule out the possibility or not. AFAIK, physicists laugh at those fear mongers because, they say, if such a disaster was possible, nature would have produced the required factors at least once in the galaxy - and such a disaster would destroy the entire galaxy. So there should be no galaxy. And there is a galaxy, so, physicists say, the constant must be such as to make stable strange matter aggregations impossible.

In any case, the point was, tiny or not, singularities might be at humanity's reach in a thousand years, even if tiny unstable and ephemeral ones, so care should be had when saying "cannot happen".

Now... I agree... assuming humans can produce "Black Holes" (in caps), is game-destabilizing. I would steer clear of that. But all kinds of strange extreme stuff might be possible in a smaller scale. A "shield" might be for all we care such a phenomenon, low energy compared to a moon-sized blackhole, but destructive enough when collided with.

And, mind you, the protection at a game level it would provide would be a tactical one: only basic, primitive attacks can travel through a shield. Throw stuff at a ship, that's all. You can't put a nuke next to the ship and detonate it, because the shield disassembles the nuke. At a time when nukes would be rather commonplace, I think it's a very important tactical advantage, and for capships, "shields down" would be like an endgame if the other party is equipped with high-yield explosives (like nukes).

Try to argue against the gameplay value of such a model.

Interesting thing about the bubbles though...
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Mon May 17, 2010 9:12 pm

well.. my suggestion in regards to shields.. don't reach too far..
either take one of two paths.. find a close to home explainable just slightly out of reach potential... (even if in reality its impossible) the shorter the reach the less room for problems.. this path is by far the easiest.

the harder path is to parallel physics. Something that exists in fantasy, that we as a people have never observed (at least not without realizing it) for one reason or another.. but carefully describe it with a full set of logical rules and limitations.. essentially inventing a new law of physics that normally is not observable. then label it as element handwavium.

if you do it well enough, you get things like Asimov's positronic brain. complete gobbledygook, but believable and no one minds that its BS.. its also rather limited in its own way.. so it did not unbalance the story.. or let people question why such and such didn't do this or that since it is now possible.

I know this is anethema to chuck -laughs- but if you decide you really need something you cant describe with physics, thats the only recourse you got left without resorting to technobabble or trekspeak.

One of my favorite little parallel physics is dark matter.. it is a variable we can see mathematically, and theorize about what it is.. I was always rather amused by the idea of it twsting the idea of string theory.. the 'frequency' on which a string vibrates determining what a particle is.. so.. what if some parts of the vibration assign different aspects to the particle.. like how much mass it has, how large it is, how active it is.. and so forth.. and dark matter is a combination of these variables on a particle.. that creates matter that reacts to gravity.. but not to EM.. nor any normal strong force.. so the only thing holding it together would be the mass of other bodies. maybe add some other rules to it.. like some one finds a way to change its nature.. and give it a strong force.. make it form a molecular structure.. rigid crystalline structure..

admittedly i don't see any use for that in shields :p but just giving you an idea.

in regards to strangelets. Yeah that was one of the big fears, but i thought micro black holes were another random terror people focused on.. separate from strangelets.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Deus Siddis » Mon May 17, 2010 9:22 pm

klauss wrote:Now... I agree... assuming humans can produce "Black Holes" (in caps), is game-destabilizing.


Small enough, short lived black holes wouldn't necessarily be destabilizing to balance at all. Methinks the realism factor would be the main question here. Gameplay wise a weapon that penetrated armor as easily as it penetrated space, but only caused damage in a limited area, had limited range before it dispersed, had massive power / heat dissipation issues, etc., probably could fit an interesting but not overpowering role in the arsenal.

But is it even remotely possible?

And, mind you, the protection at a game level it would provide would be a tactical one: only basic, primitive attacks can travel through a shield. Throw stuff at a ship, that's all. You can't put a nuke next to the ship and detonate it, because the shield disassembles the nuke. At a time when nukes would be rather commonplace, I think it's a very important tactical advantage, and for capships, "shields down" would be like an endgame if the other party is equipped with high-yield explosives (like nukes).

Try to argue against the gameplay value of such a model.


Point defense and ECM could offer the same or more gameplay value, and are well within the realm of hard scifi, without question.

Add to that bomb pumped lasers and the limited proximity effect of nukes in space. In fact what happens if a nuke or antimatter weapon goes off inside a section of a ship with no atmosphere? Is that catastrophic or does it do just about nothing?
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Mon May 17, 2010 9:23 pm

Neskiairti wrote:in regards to strangelets. Yeah that was one of the big fears, but i thought micro black holes were another random terror people focused on.. separate from strangelets.


May be, and I'm confusing them. As I said, I didn't research the matter much.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby pheonixstorm » Fri May 28, 2010 12:29 am

How about teleportation? It sounds sci-fantasy, but its made the rounds on the big news stations that it is possible (though at present nothing more than light or an atom).
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Fri May 28, 2010 12:43 am

do you know how this supposed teleportation works?
if you can describe the physics behind it that match up with reality.. maybe just maybe.. but just saying "i saw it on the news! its true" is going to make most physics friendly folk scoff :P
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Fri May 28, 2010 3:47 pm

Right now, scientists have teleported information across small distances.

In essence, they made information travel faster than the speed of light. IIRC, it happened through clever use of quantum entanglement.

They were also able to teleport matter. How does that work? Well... they "copy" the state of one atom into a distant atom. The atoms don't move, but... they kind of "swap".

ATM, it only happened in controlled environments, across small distances, and in small scale (one atom, one photon). I do not believe it will be possible to teleport matter in a more massive scale, because they only did teleport the state, not their spatial arrangement. The atoms in molecules, for instance, have to be prearranged by other means (current teleportation won't rearrange matter in space). Not to mention the molecules in a cell, and the cells in a human body.

CORRECTION:
The wikipedia wrote:It does not transport the system itself, nor does it allow communication of information at superluminal (faster than light) speed.

I thought it did.

PS:
The wikipedia wrote:The teleportation scheme combines the resources of two separately impossible procedures. If we remove the shared entangled state from Alice and Bob, the scheme becomes classical teleportation, which is impossible as mentioned before. On the other hand, if the classical channel is removed, then it becomes an attempt to achieve superluminal communication, again impossible (see no communication theorem).
I believe it's scientists thinking inside the box. If I knew anything about quantum mechanics I'd be tempted to challenge that assumption. I bet someone is already though... lets just wait.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Fri May 28, 2010 4:10 pm

aye.. the no communication theorem is flawed from my point of view( if its the one i think it is).

where you cannot transmit a message faster than the speed of light, due to it arriving before it was sent.

this only works if you assume time is a measurable piece of the universe and not a singular state. Einstein made this assumption and so have most of the physicists since. Since there is no way to prove or disprove it, and it is required for much of the einsteinian physics model.. it sticks.

personally I believe time does not exist, which means that no matter when you send something, it can never arrive before it is sent.. or even at the same time it is sent. Propogation, even at superluminal speeds.. still would take distance and speed in to account. The propogation of your message would arrive effectively before you do.

of course, I cant prove this anymore than anyone else can prove that time exists :p so it is just belief. ahh we humans and our 'faith'.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby klauss » Fri May 28, 2010 4:58 pm

The "no communication theorem", AFAIK, isn't a theorem in the strict sense. It's an axiom in the model of general relativity, and as all axioms, it should be regularly challenged.

That the theory has proven astoundingly sound and hard to challenge doesn't mean one shouldn't keep trying as knowledge evolves, mostly when knowledge from a subject where general relativity simply does not apply (quantum mechanics) seems to suggest the axiom may be false. Even if only in some limited scale.

CORRECTION: again, I show my ignorance on the subject. I think I was assuming the no communication theorem to be based on general relativity (since it mentions superluminal stuff)... it seems it is not, it is based on pure math (perhaps actual experiments?), and is phrased in a rather sensible manner: no instantaneous communication is possible. Notice, superluminal isn't instantaneous. Hence, I humbly believe the first wiki article (that said this theorem precludes the possibility of superluminal communication) is simply wrong. It does not. Superluminal communication may still be impossible, but it's not this theorem the one that conflicts with it.

PS: The article on "no communication theorem" seems to agree:
The wikipedia - no communication theorem wrote:If superluminal communication is prohibited, it is not because of the no-communication theorem. Thus, the question of superluminal communication remains open.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Neskiairti » Sat May 29, 2010 3:00 am

that was from the opposing viewpoint, klauss.

and yeah, its pure math, but it was derived from relativity proofs.
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby Shark » Mon Jul 05, 2010 6:40 pm

What is the current status of the base interface? Any screenshots?
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Re: Base Computer Interface

Postby -REBEL3- » Mon Jul 05, 2010 10:34 pm

I'm afraid I'm not going to be able to work on the interfaces for a while-I was involved in a car accident, and, among other injuries, broke a finger. Doesn't hurt much, but I can't draw well. So, it'll be a month or so before any more work happens on this front.
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