Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
FraNe91
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Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby FraNe91 » Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:43 pm

Hello everyone, I'm new here so I introduce myself! :mrgreen:
I'm Francisco and I'm from Italy (any Italian fellow here around here?) and it's little time I started playing rpg. I started two years ago as a Dungeonslayers game master in a campaign that lasted two years and ended badly (or better said, didn't ended at all).
After that I decided I would finally start my Traveller campaign with different players. I can say I know really few things in respect of the Traveller official setting, mostly what's in the Spinward Marches campaign and what you can found around in the internet and in the Traveller wiki.
My Traveller campaign will be sandbox style -very different from my previous railroaded fantasy campaign- and located (for now) in the Vilis subsector. We haven't started still, but I hope that we will within the next two weeks.

This said I'll make my first newbie question: why is software included in ship maintenance cost?
What if I upgrade the software or buy more?
I can see no reason of this, because it's a separate thing from the main computer whereof its maintenance cost is already included.

Oh, and regarding my grammar... ignore it :D

Thanks!
Frane
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby rust » Fri Nov 29, 2013 1:55 pm

FraNe91 wrote: This said I'll make my first newbie question: why is software included in ship maintenance cost?
Well, one has to pay for all those patches and updates required to
keep the software running smoothly ... :shock:

More seriously, I also see no convincing reason to pay maintenance
for software, so I used the ship's cost minus the software to calcula-
te the maintenance cost.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Condottiere » Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:44 pm

I would have thought that the software would either be pirated or public domain by then.

Since you probably need specific application software for specific equipment, you could ignore this cost for standard or generic equipment. You may need to pay for an occasional update or zero day exploits, though after a thousand years, most would have been found by then.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Bardicheart » Fri Nov 29, 2013 6:10 pm

Condottiere wrote:I would have thought that the software would either be pirated or public domain by then.
Unfortunately software piracy and public domain died out due to bandwidth limits and programs requiring "non-trivial amounts of bandwidth to copy". All software is delivered on several million 5.25" floppy disks... :roll:

Ditto on ignoring software costs in maintenance figures.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Pyromancer » Sat Nov 30, 2013 4:46 am

Those "maintenance costs" are actually license fees.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby dragoner » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:00 am

Most likely all software is configured for each ship, on say the basis of about almost the entire library of NASA? Sounds expensive to maintain and keep updated.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Condottiere » Sat Nov 30, 2013 6:11 am

It's generic, copyright and patents can't last that long.

Even Windows would be public domain and open sourced by then, or the computers would be running on Android or Linux.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Pyromancer » Sat Nov 30, 2013 8:30 am

Condottiere wrote:It's generic, copyright and patents can't last that long.
Why not? The 3I is partly based on Vilani culture, which always had a longer perspective.
Even Windows would be public domain and open sourced by then, or the computers would be running on Android or Linux.
The software would need the equivalent of a FAA approval, and Imperial authorities might only grant those to software from megacorporation, due to liability issues. So, while in theory, you could run a ship on open source software, in practice you can't, at least not in Imperial controlled space.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Egil Skallagrimsson » Sat Nov 30, 2013 1:25 pm

Hi Francisco, welcome to the forums!

On your question, ship maintainance costs are a game mechanic, and will necessarily represent a simplification. Leave out software costs if you like, but why not leave out the costs of other systems which may not have been used in the last month? Or used less often. Perhaps increase the costs of those that have been used a lot, especially in extreme circumstances? In any event, make the costs more variable, sometimes your service is just the labour, other times major jobs need doing. Should older ships cost more to keep flying than newer ones?

Personally, we keep it simple, and use the parts value of the ship (including software) as the figure to calculate maintence costs from, as per RAW. However, one of the joys of Trav is all the options to tinker with the rules, to add more (or less) "realism". Most such changes end up adding complications, and taking time away from actually "adventuring", I suppose every GM, and group, eventually decided how much "realism", and its consequential book-keeping, they want.

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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Mytholder » Sat Nov 30, 2013 5:00 pm

One possibility - as well as patches, you're also paying for regular updates to your jump charts, library data and access to planetary data feeds. You can skimp on part of the maintenance costs, but then you risk using out-of-date charts and end up misjumping into a red zone.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby CosmicGamer » Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:41 pm

FraNe91 wrote:why is software included in ship maintenance cost?
For something like a Far Trader, the software makes up a mere 250th of the ships cost and is less than 17cr/mo. Is it worth worrying about?

While it can be fun to discuss possible ways of explaining this, the real reason is probably just because it's a game and the maintenance costs are a simple calculation and not part of a complex simulation of real costs. Wouldn't a older worn out ship and newer ships have different maintenance costs? Why would parts of the ship, hull, armor, staterooms (occupied or not), power plant, drives, all have the same 1/1000th maintenance cost? Would a higher tech version of the same item have lower costs due to higher reliability and efficiency or higher costs due to the increased costs or decreased availability of high tech materials? And so on...

Just saying, I never looked at it as anything but a rough estimate for those of us that like to do more role playing than record keeping and math.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby dragoner » Sat Nov 30, 2013 9:56 pm

Condottiere wrote:It's generic, copyright and patents can't last that long.
There might be a standard framework, but Traveller ships do more than any current space agency, I would think it is ship specific.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Bardicheart » Sat Nov 30, 2013 11:05 pm

CosmicGamer wrote:While it can be fun to discuss possible ways of explaining this, the real reason is probably just because it's a game and the maintenance costs are a simple calculation and not part of a complex simulation of real costs. Wouldn't a older worn out ship and newer ships have different maintenance costs? Why would parts of the ship, hull, armor, staterooms (occupied or not), power plant, drives, all have the same 1/1000th maintenance cost? Would a higher tech version of the same item have lower costs due to higher reliability and efficiency or higher costs due to the increased costs or decreased availability of high tech materials? And so on...

Just saying, I never looked at it as anything but a rough estimate for those of us that like to do more role playing than record keeping and math.
In some ways, if the construction is high tech / used high tech materials the cost is already figured into maintenance costs.

For example, a jump drive at +3 TL costs double the normal price and that would be reflected in an increase in maintenance cost reflecting the higher cost of parts, etc. What isn't included is whether that makes maintenance easier, reduces breakdowns, etc. Maybe individual Referee's should consider giving such systems a DM modifier for break downs or repairs depending on the system and whether that high tech is a refined, reliable technology (warranting a DM bonus) or experimental (perhaps warranting a DM penalty). One option would be to use the rules from High Guard (p53) allowing any advanced technology to have the same options for miniaturization or being easier to repair and so forth.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Condottiere » Sun Dec 01, 2013 4:09 am

You really can't make that argument for the Adventure/Core alphabet drives, since in theory Jump and M engines are are based on TL, but in practice a six hundred ton ship with a C drive can be built at TL 9, but you'd have to build a hundred ton ship with a C drive at TL15.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby FraNe91 » Tue Dec 03, 2013 7:06 pm

Egil Skallagrimsson wrote:Hi Francisco, welcome to the forums!
Thanks! :mrgreen:
Egil Skallagrimsson wrote: On your question, ship maintainance costs are a game mechanic, and will necessarily represent a simplification. Leave out software costs if you like, but why not leave out the costs of other systems which may not have been used in the last month? Or used less often. Perhaps increase the costs of those that have been used a lot, especially in extreme circumstances? In any event, make the costs more variable, sometimes your service is just the labour, other times major jobs need doing. Should older ships cost more to keep flying than newer ones?
Yeah I know it's just a simplification and game mechanics, but I was curious if there was already an in-setting explanation. Anyway I think I'll leave it out.
Egil Skallagrimsson wrote: Most such changes end up adding complications, and taking time away from actually "adventuring", I suppose every GM, and group, eventually decided how much "realism", and its consequential book-keeping, they want.
I already passed through this with my older Dungeonslayers campaign. It was a really simple system but far from realistic. We tried to make it more realistic and we failed, because as you said it ended up in complications. Now I'm careful about changing and adding rules.
Mytholder wrote:One possibility - as well as patches, you're also paying for regular updates to your jump charts, library data and access to planetary data feeds. You can skimp on part of the maintenance costs, but then you risk using out-of-date charts and end up misjumping into a red zone.
I really like this... could be a good adventure seed!
Getting lost in the black because of old charts :twisted:

Hans: "Aw, we've come out of jumpspace into a meteor shower. Some kind of asteroid collision. It's not on any of the charts."
Lukas: "What's going on?"
Hans: "Our position is correct, except...no, Garda-Vilis!"
Lukas: "What do you mean? Where is it?"
Hans: "Thats what I'm trying to tell you, kid. It ain't there. It's been totally blown away."
Lukas: "What? How?"
Oberon-Winns: "Destroyed by the Zhodani."
Hans: "The entire Imperium fleet couldn't destroy the whole planet. It'd take a thousand ships with more fire power than I've..."
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Jak Nazryth » Wed Dec 04, 2013 6:53 pm

Ciao Francisco!
e studio architectura in Roma, 1993! e studio Astia Antica "city fabric"...
Ok, forgive me of my REALLY bad Italian. ;)

On what the other guys said, you can invent anything you want for why software needs maintenance. Personally I would dump it, but compared to the cost of the ship itself, I don't think software would add a whole lot to monthly expenses.

On your question of the Spinward Marches campaign setting, I think it's a good place for many new Traveller players to begin. I like sandbox settings but my only suggestion is that you might want to have a over arching "background" plot. As the GM you can select anything you want. Zhodani war on the horizon, the Sword Worlds are about to revolt again... strange computer virus effecting the xboat system cutting off the Marches from the Core of the Emperium... Major incursion of slavers/raiders from Aslan areas... etc... This can be "noise" in the background and it can be just another adventure seed/thread your players might be interested in. Other than that, there are literally thousands of ideas, adventures, settings, and ship designs created and uploaded by "official sources " and fan-based sources alike.
Welcome and have fun! :)
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby hdan » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:46 pm

Possibly the post-neural computers that most Traveller ships have require a certain level of "flushing out" to keep them from learning bad (read that "deadly to passengers") patterns. Since software on such computers is going to have some ability to learn, having a trained technician "normalize" the data is probably not a bad idea, though you might expect that any Computer-1 or higher crewmember could handle the job as part of their standard maintenance duties. (Any number of classic scifi plots can come from the ship "accidentally" becoming conscious/haunted, though obviously the fact that this can happen won't be a mystery to anyone, just an inconvenience.)

Also, updated star charts are a great idea, but I kind of bundle that in with costs for landing at a starport. (Another adventure seed: the ship's navigator notices some odd "shifts" in jump data after arriving at a Class-C startport after an extended journey through underdeveloped space. It's almost as if someone is trying to hide something...)
/hdan
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby FraNe91 » Thu Dec 05, 2013 10:59 pm

Jak Nazryth wrote:Ciao Francisco!
e studio architectura in Roma, 1993! e studio Astia Antica "city fabric"...
Ok, forgive me of my REALLY bad Italian. ;)
Nevermind, you'll have the time to learn :D
Jak Nazryth wrote: I like sandbox settings but my only suggestion is that you might want to have a over arching "background" plot. [...] This can be "noise" in the background and it can be just another adventure seed/thread your players might be interested in.
That's exactly what I have in mind! In my campaign the Ine Givar is planning to start a war of Sword Worlds and Zhodani against the Imperium by increasing the tension between them trough planned events, like an assassination of an important Sword Worlder by an Imperial fanatic... guess what the inspiration is :roll:
Already during the first session they'll be directly involved in this without knowing -and without the necessity to realize it even in the future- :twisted:
I think this campaign will be a sort of an experiment and a good exercise :)
Jak Nazryth wrote: Welcome and have fun! :)
Thanks! :)
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby Condottiere » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:11 pm

Updating astrogation charts seems obvious, and you should be able to buy a pre-programmed navigation course for your jump, if I correctly recall CT.
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Re: Why is software included in ship maintainance cost?

Postby CosmicGamer » Fri Dec 06, 2013 1:14 pm

FraNe91 wrote:like an assassination of an important Sword Worlder by an Imperial fanatic... guess what the inspiration is :roll:
The list of movies, TV shows, books, comics. real world events and so on with a similar plot is too long for me to guess.

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