The Physics of Space Battles

Discuss the Traveller RPG and its many settings
AndrewW
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The Physics of Space Battles

Postby AndrewW » Sun Sep 28, 2014 5:14 pm

sideranautae
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:10 pm

Something most new Trav players should have to watch- several times. (except for the false propaganda clip at the end)
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wbnc
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby wbnc » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:21 pm

Yeah, space battles would be fairly dull to look at. No bright bolts of energy, no roaring thrusters, no twisting turning dogfights.
You can simulate real world physics, and limitations fairly well, but for the most part it takes some of the excitement out of the mix. realistic simulations rapidly boil down to mathematics, and resource management, with just a dash of tactics thrown in...So most games mix a little space opera into the sci-fi, The space opera additives give players a bit more room to be dashing, courageous, while they show of those piloting skills.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Sun Sep 28, 2014 6:26 pm

wbnc wrote:Yeah, space battles would be fairly dull to look at. No bright bolts of energy, no roaring thrusters, no twisting turning dogfights.
You can simulate real world physics, and limitations fairly well, but for the most part it takes some of the excitement out of the mix. realistic simulations rapidly boil down to mathematics, and resource management, with just a dash of tactics thrown in...So most games mix a little space opera into the sci-fi, The space opera additives give players a bit more room to be dashing, courageous, while they show of those piloting skills.
Yep, every Trav movement rule (from every version I've seen) assumes Newtonian physics movement, etc., and then adds a Pilot mod (the only real nod to Air to Air combat.)

Not to mention that military ships will all probably be spherical in design...
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wbnc
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby wbnc » Sun Sep 28, 2014 8:18 pm

A sphere is the most efficient form as far as space and maneuvering in space goes. However there is where economy/tactics comes in.

when a ship is under fire, you want as little f the ship exposed to incoming fire a possible. one it makes a harder target, and two you can armor the exposed sections more heavily without making it an expensive, barely mobile bunker.

wedge, or cylinders, give you the ability to pack vulnerable part behind the heavily armored sections that you point toward the enemy. a wedge, or cylinder offers the largest area to mount weapons on, while protecting engines and systems behind heavily armored/shielded forward end.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:08 pm

wbnc wrote:A sphere is the most efficient form as far as space and maneuvering in space goes. However there is where economy/tactics comes in.

when a ship is under fire, you want as little f the ship exposed to incoming fire a possible. one it makes a harder target, and two you can armor the exposed sections more heavily without making it an expensive, barely mobile bunker.

wedge, or cylinders, give you the ability to pack vulnerable part behind the heavily armored sections that you point toward the enemy. a wedge, or cylinder offers the largest area to mount weapons on, while protecting engines and systems behind heavily armored/shielded forward end.
Actually, a sphere enables the most armour and the smallest target cross section for a given volume. In space your enemy can come from any direction. Other shapes are not as efficient for a war craft.

Most people don't know this though. ;)
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wbnc
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby wbnc » Sun Sep 28, 2014 9:52 pm

sideranautae wrote: Actually, a sphere enables the most armour and the smallest target cross section for a given volume. In space your enemy can come from any direction. Other shapes are not as efficient for a war craft.

Most people don't know this though. ;)
I have to say your reasoning is solid, I suppose if space/exposed surface efficiency was the deciding factor the ships would be spherical. But I also suspect different fleets would have different takes on the most effective way to get the most bang for their buck.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Sun Sep 28, 2014 10:40 pm

wbnc wrote:
sideranautae wrote: Actually, a sphere enables the most armour and the smallest target cross section for a given volume. In space your enemy can come from any direction. Other shapes are not as efficient for a war craft.

Most people don't know this though. ;)
I have to say your reasoning is solid, I suppose if space/exposed surface efficiency was the deciding factor the ships would be spherical. But I also suspect different fleets would have different takes on the most effective way to get the most bang for their buck.

It's just straight geometry & physics. If you want max armor for volume and minimum sensor (stealth) and target cross section, you have to go sphere. Any other shape is worse in those 3 areas.

If the war ship will be doing a lot of atmospheric work you'll probably go with a capsule or saucer shape instead
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Reynard
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby Reynard » Mon Sep 29, 2014 12:52 am

Anyone remember the RPG featuring lots and lots of diplomacy and trading in outer space? Anyone? Everyone have a copy of it?

Well, Star Trek always promoted trade and diplomacy over those embarrassing moments of violence on the ground or in space. Sure, most worlds in the Federation were fairly stepford in their coexistence and somehow the aggressive opposition became as tame as cranky kittens. You can fight a little but... Oh, how many Star Trek RPGs are still going strong?

Now that I think about it, how many RPG or space combat games are out there that feature totally realistic zero g movement, realistic power and energy use, low tech weapons for offence and defense fired at 'see the whites of their eyes on the bridge' ranges? Battlestar Galactica with its CPR big guns, autocannon small arms and uber nukes aimed at crawling dreadnaught comes close but who actually owns let along play it? 1889 died a while back.

Yet Traveller, with it's 'not always accurate but still tries' sciences, is still the only one going strong after 40 years. Super realism is good for reality but everywhere else, it is also super boring and limited for fun. People like opposition and they like firework. It stimulates that millions year old survival brain we inherited.

It's a cool video and one of many produced since sci fi has been around especially with each new scientific discovery. Just about everything he mentions I've heard many decades ago. A little too preachy as correct as it is. Two thumbs up for effort and now I go back to being a feliniod engineer on a vessel that should be totally impossible... or at least 42% improbable and falling.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby EvilDM » Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:06 am

wbnc wrote:A sphere is the most efficient form as far as space and maneuvering in space goes. However there is where economy/tactics comes in.
Wouldn't a sphere be pretty hard to maneuver, especially to turn?
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:10 am

EvilDM wrote:
wbnc wrote:A sphere is the most efficient form as far as space and maneuvering in space goes. However there is where economy/tactics comes in.
Wouldn't a sphere be pretty hard to maneuver, especially to turn?
No. Newtonian movement using grav M-drives means the shape doesn't matter. Even using rockets it wouldn't matter.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby EvilDM » Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:47 am

sideranautae wrote:
EvilDM wrote:
wbnc wrote:A sphere is the most efficient form as far as space and maneuvering in space goes. However there is where economy/tactics comes in.
Wouldn't a sphere be pretty hard to maneuver, especially to turn?
No. Newtonian movement using grav M-drives means the shape doesn't matter. Even using rockets it wouldn't matter.
I admit physics is not my strong point but a cylinder can have maneuvering thrusters at different intervalls from the center of mass facing outward while a sphere can only have those thursters at one distance (= radius) and they must either extrude from the main body, thurst into the sphere or be set up at an angle?
Wouldn't that mean that a cylinder would be able to turn faster and more precise than the sphere?
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Mon Sep 29, 2014 1:58 am

EvilDM wrote:
sideranautae wrote:
No. Newtonian movement using grav M-drives means the shape doesn't matter. Even using rockets it wouldn't matter.
I admit physics is not my strong point but a cylinder can have maneuvering thrusters at different intervalls from the center of mass facing outward while a sphere can only have those thursters at one distance (= radius) and they must either extrude from the main body, thurst into the sphere or be set up at an angle?
Wouldn't that mean that a cylinder would be able to turn faster and more precise than the sphere?
Why use thrusters to turn/spin? Just use gyroscopes. There is no restriction on pointing a thruster (which aren't used in Trav ships) on a sphere.

Anyway, in short, there is no advantage in spinning end over end being a cylinder rather than spinning a 180 being a sphere.
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Reynard
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby Reynard » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:34 am

You never see thrusters on Traveller ships. I would think they use a system of flywheels imbedded throughout to adjust directions as some of today's craft do.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:36 am

Reynard wrote:You never see thrusters on Traveller ships. I would think they use a system of flywheels imbedded throughout to adjust directions as some of today's craft do.
MT's Starship Operators book mentions this.
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ieqo
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby ieqo » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:43 am

Y'all are missing the very most important reason why Traveller ships aren't all spherical. That is that there exists a very large cross-section of gaming consumers for whom artwork is important. Read the reviews on pretty much any rpg product, and you'll find just as much review of the product's art than you will on the content. I've crossed rhetorical swords with folks who actually make a purchase decision based on the artwork. And you have to admit: there ain't too many ways to make a sphere look 'kewl'. So therefore, if one wants to sell products, it stands to reason that one must pander to those who want kewl-looking, pew-pew spaceships and are willing to pay for them rather than pander to those who are going to whinge on the internet day in and day out about how high-energy beam weapons and reactionless propulsion works in the real world.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby sideranautae » Mon Sep 29, 2014 2:48 am

ieqo wrote:Y'all are missing the very most important reason why Traveller ships aren't all spherical. That is that there exists a very large cross-section of gaming consumers for whom artwork is important. Read the reviews on pretty much any rpg product,
Naw. Trav art work has never been its strong point. B&W mostly sub-par drawings for 35+ years. So, RPGers that make buying decisions based on having to have good art don't buy Trav games in the first place. That's ipso facto

The reason is because the artists that are hired generally don;t know the rules or much about the subject they are drawing.

N.B. most trav ships are drawn as TL 6 rocket propulsion craft.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby phavoc » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:57 am

Offensively a wedge is the best, as you can bring the bulk of your weapons to bear if they are properly aligned. But Traveller doesn't use weapon arcs, so that's a non-issue.

I would also think that the wedge shape would give you a smaller forward cross-section, which would be somewhat advantageous. But Traveller also doesn't take into account the actual design and where the damage occurs, so again it's a not-issue.

By the rules the number of weapons you can bring to bear is limited as your tonnage goes up. A sphere would not potentially have as many weapons to bring to bear on a specific heading, but it would also be able to potentially slug it out with a ship that did because it could change it's facing to bring new undamaged armor and weapons to bear while other ship form factors could not.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby wbnc » Mon Sep 29, 2014 7:36 am

sideranautae wrote: The reason is because the artists that are hired generally don;t know the rules or much about the subject they are drawing.
.
By the way I am a designer, who supplies concept sketches for mongoose...no insult taken, if you can't hear another persons opinion without getting peeved..ya really should find a job that doesn't invite criticism..


I mentioned earlier I know spheres maybe the most efficient space wise, and if that was the only factor yeah, a sphere wins hands down.But I design less than optimal/efficient/realistic for several reasons.

However there are two issues....

artistic:
If your designing ships for an audience you cant always go with the most realistic, or most efficient. after all it is a form of entertainment. You have to try to provide something visually interesting to the audience.
People look for a front and back, as well as a hint to the purpose of the ship. So if your designing a cargo ship you give it obvious cargo pods, or holds. If it's a warship you add a few weapons pointed in the direction the ship is pointed.
If a ship is intended to enter an atmosphere you give at least some form of streamlining, or at least minimal cross section so it isn't a wall flying into a headwind.

The second consideration is well, practicality, bean counters get a vote in ship design.

If a ships weapons are pointed in the "wrong" direction in a fight they are wasted mass, and wasted resources.And in all likelihood on a sphere more than half the weapons will be pointed in the wrong direction to engage the ships primary target. No commander will willingly allow himself to be enveloped so he will most likely be taking fire from one or two directions at most.

Now you could install duplicates of it's heavy weapons around it's circumference to cover those arcs, but bean counters hate duplicate systems. they would insist on a single main weapons system and turning the ship toward the primary target to engage... that means you need a ship that can present a very narrow cross section on at least one facing.

A sphere has the same cross section at any angle. That means you cant hide critical systems behind heavy armor or away from the direct line of fire, the heavily armor the end that's going to take the heaviest fire. You have to armor it 360 x 360...which bean counters also hate. they want you to armor the section that is most likely to be taking heavy fire the heaviest and spread out the remaining armor in other places. ( modern tanks are a great example)

The 360x360 armor also reduces the mass you have to move around, increasing speed and response times...Which is important if you do suddenly face an enemy that can threaten you from an angle our main weapons cant engage. now i know Traveller ships don't consider the actual mass of ships, or the facing of a ship, however if we are talking practicalities of real warships then this is a factor.

Sooooo basically there can be reasons for a non-spheroid ship, without it being impractical, or unrealistic.
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Re: The Physics of Space Battles

Postby EvilDM » Mon Sep 29, 2014 9:15 am

Also, many ships in Traveller have to get into an atmosphere eventually and in that case being a least a little bit aerodynamic helps a lot.

Also, while also not simulated by Traveller, a cone/cylinder shaoe would allow you to get a longer spinal gun tha a sphere of equal mass.
Last edited by EvilDM on Mon Sep 29, 2014 11:40 am, edited 2 times in total.

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