Computers.....

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
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Computers.....

Postby Infojunky » Sat Oct 03, 2015 6:13 pm

First off I generally like the basic computer system in the core rules, I have liked it since the 1st edition. (Please don't rewrite Computers every time the subject gets touched in follow up books like was the case in 1st edition)

The dichotomy between "ship's computers" nee Mainframes and the "personal computers" of the equipment section. I have players who will want their own Mainframe. Also in general the tech level advancements between the two should probably match. Oh, and you should lose the section stating how much more powerful ships computers are over ground based computers, the statement is just plain wrong.

Oh and "Bandwidth", I prefered Computer Rating as the terminology.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby AndrewW » Sat Oct 03, 2015 7:53 pm

Infojunky wrote:Oh and "Bandwidth", I prefered Computer Rating as the terminology.
Agreed, Bandwidth isn't the right fit.

Note computers are still being worked out.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Condottiere » Sun Oct 04, 2015 1:27 am

I want to use my iPhone Xenith to process the jump navigation programme, and other apps to control the ship.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Tenacious-Techhunter » Sat Nov 28, 2015 11:29 pm

Considering modern day smartphones can effectively plot any in-system route needed by Traveller Navigators, I really don't see much need for a gigantic "ship's computer", even accounting for shielding, multiple redundancy, hardening, and backup power. Kerbal Space Program illustrates a reasonable practical limit on navigation software when you have functionally unlimited ability to perform course correction; in a real-world case, in-system traffic from other ships would require pilots to eschew Kerbal-like precision anyway, but that's a completely random unpredictable phenomenon.

The only time you would need the full computing horsepower of NASA is when you are completely fuel constrained.

Now, one argument for a big ship's computer is the jump calculations, which are entirely fictional... But that would require a comparatively through-the-roof rating, and break gameplay.

One could argue that the most reasonable case for a big ship's computer is entertainment... but only a complete luddite would travel without a hand computer, and they wouldn't want computer based entertainment anyway.

Given modern "Glass Cockpits" (LCD panels, not CRTs), and the ability for fairly average modern computers to come up with overkill solutions to navigation problems, I think it's time to ring the death-knell for there even being any difference at all between a ship's computer and any other kind of computer.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Belisknar » Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:58 pm

Didn't want to start a new thread since this computers one is already here.

Agent and Intellect... How is this software supposed to be viewed to opperate?

Since they can utilise software 'Up to their bandwitdth' are we supposed to be running computers with extra Rating for the intellect, or do they not contribute?

This has been brought up due to some starship conversion where I've come across a ship with an Intellect with a rating equal to the computer it is installed on.

That being the Intellect is Rating 10, as is the computer it's installed on. All the other software barring manouver and library are also rating 10 so... how is this intellect supposed to be able to opperate anything other than the library if it's using up the entire system to run itself.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby ShawnDriscoll » Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:55 am

Tenacious-Techhunter wrote:Considering modern day smartphones can effectively plot any in-system route needed by Traveller Navigators, I really don't see much need for a gigantic "ship's computer", even accounting for shielding, multiple redundancy, hardening, and backup power.
Traveller's setting is not our future. It's an alternate future.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Tenacious-Techhunter » Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:01 pm

The assumptions that hypothetical future is based on are false. It’s one thing to make decisions based on a completely unknown hypothetical. It’s quite another to blatantly ignore evidence to the contrary.

Players should always be able to rely on fact. Now, it’s quite all right for the GM to apply handwavium here and there when he screws up the details, but the assumption that the universe fundamentally behaves with the same constraints as ours does is necessary for the players to make informed decisions.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby dmccoy1693 » Thu Mar 17, 2016 2:15 am

Remember, while doing all that, they also have to handle the size of future porn. Because that is not going to be taking up less computering power. :D :lol:
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Condottiere » Thu Mar 17, 2016 3:32 am

I think you can rent a robot, if not take it home with you.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Tenacious-Techhunter » Tue Mar 29, 2016 10:36 pm

Porn is no different than any other genre for its given medium, other than a history of making or breaking a given format in format wars:

Betamax vs. VHS? VHS
Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD vs. Internet? Internet

Please note these results are not due to superior technology; these are merely market-driven results.

So the assumption that porn is going to be the driver of high-tech is just plain unfounded, even if they do have a history of breaking ties.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby alex_greene » Mon Apr 11, 2016 3:42 pm

Let's focus on the library modules and astrogation maps, rather. The Far Future would likely have a great deal of information available in every ship's library, not to mention an astrogation database for transport, system and world data and so on. That information would require very efficient sorting and searching algorithms and a system able to keep track of all of that information.

Presumably, that sort of information would be held on hot-swappable server farms just off the bridge and stratrgically located at various points throughout the ship.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby phavoc » Mon Apr 11, 2016 6:58 pm

Tenacious-Techhunter wrote:The assumptions that hypothetical future is based on are false. It’s one thing to make decisions based on a completely unknown hypothetical. It’s quite another to blatantly ignore evidence to the contrary.

Players should always be able to rely on fact. Now, it’s quite all right for the GM to apply handwavium here and there when he screws up the details, but the assumption that the universe fundamentally behaves with the same constraints as ours does is necessary for the players to make informed decisions.
How do you come up with this line of reasoning? computers have barely been around for half a century, give or take a decade. Traveller is set in the 52nd century, and even accounting for darker periods and such, that's many hundreds of years for technology and programming to get better. Today storage is moving by leaps and bounds in yearly intervals. We are slowing down with processor power changes, hitting the physical wall for our baseline tech. But that doesn't mean we are done with all of it.

In some ways Traveller computers are actually downgraded from what they probably should be. Since it's a game it's ok to set some limits, but things might be better off with the assumption that your ship is already fitted out with the proper electronics and software to do all the basic tasks of navigation, movement and combat. Then it becomes what special things to you add to make it even better. That's kind of how the direction is going, but I think it missed a turn or two to get there.

We have devices from Amazon, or our cars, or the water department to recognize our voices and act on commands. In many ways some of the computer capabilities of Star Trek wouldn't necessarily be too far off (It's the Watson of the future). The real question becomes how does AI fit into the picture, and would the future have them and how would they implement them? The hypothetical becomes less of a stretch, and the limits of your imagination come into play.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Tenacious-Techhunter » Tue Apr 12, 2016 6:31 am

The current technology in a smart phone is already sufficiently capable of solving n-body problems to the extent necessary for any meaningful planetary body simulation in 3 dimensional space.

Additionally, with the comparatively unlimited fuel and thrust in the Traveller setting, elaborate planetary computations are completely unnecessary. You aren’t desperately trying to conserve fuel to the extent that it would make or break having any mission at all at the planning phase. Most pilots aren’t exploiting orbital physics for the sake of exotic maneuvers. There’s nothing sufficiently elaborate about shipboard physics that it requires even a desktop’s worth of computing power. All plausible computational horsepower needs in Traveller’s setting are purely personal. Not navigation, not fire control, not anything based on physics.

The only justification for an elaborately large ship’s computer is the part of Jump-Space physics that has to do with only Jump-Space, and not the real-space on either end. And since it’s a completely made up physical phenomenon, it’s all hand-wavium; there’s no physical justification for it. Additionally, requiring that big a computer for Jump-Space makes the computing requirements of just about anything else so ridiculously low that the meaningful computational power would be effectively infinite. That would ruin game balance.

A computer solving the problems that a Traveller Ship’s Computer would have more in common with 4 Raspberry Pi 3s attached to a redundancy backplane that fits inside a toaster than anything larger than even a microwave. It’s a simple fact of the required math; anything more than Kerbal-grade physics is overkill for Traveller.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby phavoc » Tue Apr 12, 2016 11:09 pm

I have to disagree about the desktop analogy. Traveller computers would be doing a whole host of operations, such as life support, grav plate monitoring, predictive evasion programs when in combat, analyzing comma traffic. Continuously updating nav plotting, reading sensors, erc, etc. All of that would exceed the computing power of today's desktop.

I see the "computer" in Traveller being more than just a rack mount off the bridge. It's a whole host of subsystems, access terminals, workstations, all with redundancy built into it.

I think k it's safe to say your shups computer doesn't need a single dton, but it certainly could be complex.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 13, 2016 12:42 am

There was a book out many years back called The Physics of Star Trek. It boiled down to star ship in Trek's timeline should be tiny and manned by very few people who should have direct neural interface with the ship and all devices. Everything else would be highly miniaturized and super powerful compared to what we see in the various media forms. The crews should be borged out. Star Trek therefore should be unwatchable because they are so far from facts as we know them.

And yet somehow people vastly prefer the way they are including computer cores taking a large chunk of a deck even though much is dispersed throughout the vessel. Star Wars... geez. No factual miniaturization there. The vast majority of fans like it that way including many sci fi RPG game systems.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Tenacious-Techhunter » Wed Apr 13, 2016 6:36 am

The GPS in your car isn’t the same computer as the one that runs your engine. Modern cars have lots of little computers that each do a very specialized thing. Modern Warships are the same way. They are modern disproofs of the entire concept of “a single centralized computer”. And, as I said, you still get your redundancy in the size of a toaster.

Gameplay must trump style. Players have to be able to rely upon what they know. The minute you start throwing facts out the window for the sake of style, it just becomes a game-destroying headache. No one wants a game whose basic premise has to be fixed.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Condottiere » Wed Apr 13, 2016 8:59 am

Your iPhone X will have sufficient computing power to run your spaceship.

The issue is astronavigation, and then outthinking the Galaxy Note that's controlling the Vargr Corsair during combat.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby Reynard » Wed Apr 13, 2016 10:22 am

"Game-destroying headache', hmmm. A game that has existed since 1977 outlasting pretty much every other sci fi rpg and is revived to the classic rules including some retro technology and people are buying and playing the game. A 'game-destroying headache' of a game would not exist this long.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby alex_greene » Wed Apr 13, 2016 1:37 pm

I really need to take a good, long look at the computers and communications sections of the Trav 2 CRB. It's an issue that always seems to need serious addressing.
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Re: Computers.....

Postby phavoc » Wed Apr 13, 2016 2:25 pm

Tenacious-Techhunter wrote:The GPS in your car isn’t the same computer as the one that runs your engine. Modern cars have lots of little computers that each do a very specialized thing. Modern Warships are the same way. They are modern disproofs of the entire concept of “a single centralized computer”. And, as I said, you still get your redundancy in the size of a toaster.

Gameplay must trump style. Players have to be able to rely upon what they know. The minute you start throwing facts out the window for the sake of style, it just becomes a game-destroying headache. No one wants a game whose basic premise has to be fixed.
I don't disagree that you will have multiple subsystems performing key operations. The fusion reactor, for example, is going to have it's own subsystems to control the containment field, to feed the proper ratio of fuel into it, to match power output to demand (and additional subsystems to route and handle the actual power). These will be all over the ship doing minor things, just like your car example (which is a good example by the way).

However you still will have the ships main computer hoovering up all this disparate data to build you data models and outputs of everything that is going on. As you say, each of the subsystems is doing ONE thing, but only the main ships computer will be concerned with what EVERYTHING is doing. Plus the ships computer will be taking in all the external sensor data and making sense of it. That's how we use the computers today, to have them make sense of all the raw data and then humans connect the dots and make the decisions. If we use canon material from Traveller as our baseline, then what is happening is the 52nd century isn't all that far off from what we do today. While they would certainly have the computer power and programming to make fully automated warships, they do not. So the human in the loop is still present and still required (just by design rather than limitations).

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