Advanced and Retrotech questions

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Hey all! Just out of curiosity, why does buying a TL-8 Steam Engine cost so much more than the same engine at TL-3? In the real world it is the opposite of this. A steam engine in 1800 cost about 500 pounds, adjusted for the value of the pound in the current year, is about 500,000 pounds. Yet I can go and buy a steam engine today for less than $2,000 US. It seems that all of Our tech becomes cheaper as it goes up in tech level, so why do all of the charts in Traveller make retrotech more expensive instead of less?

Oh! and let Me know if you all think this should be in a separate post, why can you only put two computers in a ship? Why can't you just add more computers for more computing power (bandwidth)? I roll a 2 meter tall rack of "computers" into the cargo hold and "plug it in", Viola! more bandwidth. It should be no different than adding additional slave units to the Main Computer as long as you have enough power to run the "server farm". Or they run in parallel as another option?

Thoughts?
 

kevinknight

Banded Mongoose
Retrotech: The argument can be made that the cost remains the same because it becomes better in ways that are not reflected in its stats. There is a fairly good writeup on this logic in the 1st Edition CSC. Certain other items, like your steam engine example, if they remain exactly the same, should have their cost decreased to a certain point as the TL increases. However, from a publishing point of view, all of these situations cannot be addressed and the individual GM should simply have it priced how he wants in his game.

Computers: Don't get me started on how broke the starship computers and software are... MGT 2nd edition still tries to hold true to the version of computers presented in Original Traveller in the late 70's (ie, back when the idea of a person owning a computer they could use in their home was ludicrous). The tech level rating make no sense. You can't have a Computer/35 until tech level 15, but you can have a Computer/40 at tech level 9. Huh? They really need to just scrap it and come up with a new system.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
kevinknight said:
Retrotech: The argument can be made that the cost remains the same because it becomes better in ways that are not reflected in its stats. There is a fairly good writeup on this logic in the 1st Edition CSC. Certain other items, like your steam engine example, if they remain exactly the same, should have their cost decreased to a certain point as the TL increases. However, from a publishing point of view, all of these situations cannot be addressed and the individual GM should simply have it priced how he wants in his game.

Computers: Don't get me started on how broke the starship computers and software are... MGT 2nd edition still tries to hold true to the version of computers presented in Original Traveller in the late 70's (ie, back when the idea of a person owning a computer they could use in their home was ludicrous). The tech level rating make no sense. You can't have a Computer/35 until tech level 15, but you can have a Computer/40 at tech level 9. Huh? They really need to just scrap it and come up with a new system.

I always thought that Computers in Traveller needed a Size Stat and a Power Usage Stat. Sure, go ahead and add more Computers, but they take up Dtons and use Power. That would make sense to Me. I look at the Computer Cores as a supercomputer-style of design with the accompanying added bandwidth, so in My mind the Computer Cores should be larger and use more power, but have considerably more "Bandwidth".

As for the higher prices on the charts for Advanced and Retrotech, I just basically reversed the numbers for building lower tech items at a higher tech level. It is a house rule, but it just made sense to Me. Nothing in human history has gotten more expensive, by having the same capabilities and being produced by higher TL manufacturing capabilities. So I couldn't figure out why that is the case in Traveller. This was as true in the 1970s when Traveller was written as it is today.

1964, the CDC6600 is built, is about 12,000 pounds, has one CPU and runs 2 Megaflops. , used 13KW of power, and cost $20,700,000 each in 2021 Dollars ($10,000,000/Megaflop)

1975 the Cray-1 was released, is about the same size as the CDC6600, ran 160 Megaflops, used 115KW of power, and cost $35,300,000 each in 2021 Dollars ($220,000/Megaflop)

2019 the IBM Summit was released. It takes up 873 square meters, runs runs 200 Petaflops, uses 13MW of power, and costs $325,000,000 each. ($0.62/Megaflop)

and that is the difference in Computer capability over just 3 TLs, from TL 5 to TL 8
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
1. You can't run computers in parallel, in the same hull, or any additional computer, for that matter.

2. But you can air gap them.

3. I think we've been manufacturing knives about the same way, for a couple of millenia; retroteching anything is a question of whether it's worthwhile doing so, and if you persist, it becomes a question of having available, or reconstructing, the tooling and materials, as well as the skills of the craftsmen.

4. As for the costs, they evolve: energy, labour, materials, real estate, tariffs, tooling; you could have a robot build the engine by itself, using (then) current technology, whether laser cutters and titanium steel.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Condottiere said:
1. You can't run computers in parallel, in the same hull, or any additional computer, for that matter.

2. But you can air gap them.

3. I think we've been manufacturing knives about the same way, for a couple of millenia; retroteching anything is a question of whether it's worthwhile doing so, and if you persist, it becomes a question of having available, or reconstructing, the tooling and materials, as well as the skills of the craftsmen.

4. As for the costs, they evolve: energy, labour, materials, real estate, tariffs, tooling; you could have a robot build the engine by itself, using (then) current technology, whether laser cutters and titanium steel.

As to your Number 1, I guess My question is why not? What is the in-game reason for this? I hate using the heavy-handed reason of, because I as your Referee, or the book says so.

Number 2) By current rules you could "air-gap" your Main Computer from your Backup Computer, but you still can't use both at the same time.

Number 3) As someone who has done blacksmithing, this is not true. It can take Me a week to make a decent knife that will stand the test of time. I use the old method with a forge, tongs, hammers, and anvils. If I sell a knife, it is likely to be a $200-$300 one-off production. I can go buy an almost indentically functional, mass-produced modern technology knife for $50. I can make one knife a week. One guy pushing buttons in a factory can make 10,000 in that same week. That is the difference between Standard Tech and Retro Tech. and it applies across almost every human technological endeavor. So, I guess this is for both 3 and 4. Same capabilities, produced both faster and at a lower price, not at a higher price. It is a triangle. The three points are price, capability/size, and production speed. When you increase in Tech Level, basically pick one point to modify in your favor for free or modify two points in your favor for a penalty on the third point.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
Anything USEFULL and mass produced will go down in price at higher tech levels. Anything obsolete, like a steam engine, must be singly crafted, adding to the price. Kind of like asking NASA to make a Saturn V engine today. No one remembers how and the parts aren't available anymore. Or how NASA was all but scavenging landfills for 8096 chips for the space shuttles at the end of their run.

Computers made more sense when they weren't integrated with the ship. There should be rules for bigger-than-personal computers that can be added.
Perhaps the High Guard revision will add dedicated computers, for weapons, etc.
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Arkathan said:
Anything USEFULL and mass produced will go down in price at higher tech levels. Anything obsolete, like a steam engine, must be singly crafted, adding to the price. Kind of like asking NASA to make a Saturn V engine today. No one remembers how and the parts aren't available anymore. Or how NASA was all but scavenging landfills for 8096 chips for the space shuttles at the end of their run.

Computers made more sense when they weren't integrated with the ship. There should be rules for bigger-than-personal computers that can be added.
Perhaps the High Guard revision will add dedicated computers, for weapons, etc.
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

I can order a mass-produced steam engine today. They are still available and My theory still holds.

As for the chip problem with the Shuttle, that is easy. Noone built those chips anymore because no one used them anymore. So, to have to retool an entire factory to just produce a few thousand chips to a previous TL's standards with absolutely no changes or improvements whatsoever, of course it will be more expensive. Yet, if they used the same capability as the original chips, but built with modern computer technology, they'd be dirt cheap. Your Space Shuttle analogy had the issue of manufacturing TL6 technology for use in a TL6 device at TL7. Had they replaced the entire computer with TL7 equipment but with TL6 capabilities, it would have been cheaper. The reason they could not do that was because of the small scale and the contractual requirement to use obsolete parts instead of actually upgrading the tech, but maintaining the same capability. (TL6 Retrotech, built at TL7)

You actually proved My point on this with the Saturn V rocket. No one would build that today. It would be stupid, but they will build a cheaper launch system, with the same capabilities using TL7 or 8 technology, Retrotech. Or they could expand the capabilities to the limits of Our current technology and far exceeding the capabilities of the Saturn V, for roughly the same price with today's dollars and technology. (SpaceX)
 

AndrewW

Cosmic Mongoose
Arkathan said:
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

That's covered in Robot Handbook.
 

Geir

Cosmic Mongoose
AndrewW said:
Arkathan said:
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

That's covered in Robot Handbook.

Yep.

Also, for the updated Central Supply Catalogue, I also added a bit more about retrotech electronics and computers (retro only applies to them, but proto applies to anything). And some more computers ('mid-sized' to cover anything from a PDP-11 to a modern blade server) and rules for making 'supercomputers'. Nothing that changes the basic dynamic of how computers work in Traveller, though. I'll have to see if it all survives the edit.

There are definitely some 'legacy' issues with Traveller computers. They actually have evolved since the classic books, but they still carry some of that baggage, which I've tried to rationalize, but need to retain for 'game balance'. And given how wrong people were about computer evolution 45 years ago, can we really say that we know where they will be in 45 years - Moore's law is slowly flattening into an s-curve. Could be worse: did anyone else ever read H. Beam Piper's Cosmic Computer (a.k.a. Junkyard Planet) ?

Spoiler alert: The computer was built into the walls. That was a big 'surprise' in 1963 when it was written, but by the time I read it about 20 years later, it was already silly, even though back then all I had was a Commodore 64 and a 300 baud modem... and an Epson dot-matrix printer that still haunts my basement.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
1. For computers it's game balance, that only one can operate per hull at any one time; you could say it's to do with cybersecurity.

2. Smallarms - replicas from Sturmgewehrs, Lugers, Winchesters to early Colts; arguably, shotguns.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Condottiere said:
1. For computers it's game balance, that only one can operate per hull at any one time; you could say it's to do with cybersecurity.

2. Smallarms - replicas from Sturmgewehrs, Lugers, Winchesters to early Colts; arguably, shotguns.

Number 2) Aren't all of those things within the same TL? Single-shot to 6-shot revolver is the same tech level. You bump up a tech level, you get the M1911 to the auto-pistol. From the double-barreled shotgun to a pump shotgun with a drum clip. They still make the revolvers along side the M1911 and they are cheaper now than they were originally. Same for the shotguns.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
AndrewW said:
Arkathan said:
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

That's covered in Robot Handbook.

I know. But I use GDW Book 8 because I didn't like the MTG1 one as well.
Looking forward to the new one though.
 

Arkathan

Cosmic Mongoose
MasterGwydion said:
Arkathan said:
Anything USEFULL and mass produced will go down in price at higher tech levels. Anything obsolete, like a steam engine, must be singly crafted, adding to the price. Kind of like asking NASA to make a Saturn V engine today. No one remembers how and the parts aren't available anymore. Or how NASA was all but scavenging landfills for 8096 chips for the space shuttles at the end of their run.

Computers made more sense when they weren't integrated with the ship. There should be rules for bigger-than-personal computers that can be added.
Perhaps the High Guard revision will add dedicated computers, for weapons, etc.
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

I can order a mass-produced steam engine today. They are still available and My theory still holds.

As for the chip problem with the Shuttle, that is easy. Noone built those chips anymore because no one used them anymore. So, to have to retool an entire factory to just produce a few thousand chips to a previous TL's standards with absolutely no changes or improvements whatsoever, of course it will be more expensive. Yet, if they used the same capability as the original chips, but built with modern computer technology, they'd be dirt cheap. Your Space Shuttle analogy had the issue of manufacturing TL6 technology for use in a TL6 device at TL7. Had they replaced the entire computer with TL7 equipment but with TL6 capabilities, it would have been cheaper. The reason they could not do that was because of the small scale and the contractual requirement to use obsolete parts instead of actually upgrading the tech, but maintaining the same capability. (TL6 Retrotech, built at TL7)

You actually proved My point on this with the Saturn V rocket. No one would build that today. It would be stupid, but they will build a cheaper launch system, with the same capabilities using TL7 or 8 technology, Retrotech. Or they could expand the capabilities to the limits of Our current technology and far exceeding the capabilities of the Saturn V, for roughly the same price with today's dollars and technology. (SpaceX)
I don't think I was arguing against your point, so...
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Arkathan said:
MasterGwydion said:
Arkathan said:
Anything USEFULL and mass produced will go down in price at higher tech levels. Anything obsolete, like a steam engine, must be singly crafted, adding to the price. Kind of like asking NASA to make a Saturn V engine today. No one remembers how and the parts aren't available anymore. Or how NASA was all but scavenging landfills for 8096 chips for the space shuttles at the end of their run.

Computers made more sense when they weren't integrated with the ship. There should be rules for bigger-than-personal computers that can be added.
Perhaps the High Guard revision will add dedicated computers, for weapons, etc.
As it is, I just make a master brain robot for the ship's AI and allow it to have immobile slaves attached to various computer terminals around the ship, so that non-capital ships have the bandwidth to get a voice activated personality.

I can order a mass-produced steam engine today. They are still available and My theory still holds.

As for the chip problem with the Shuttle, that is easy. Noone built those chips anymore because no one used them anymore. So, to have to retool an entire factory to just produce a few thousand chips to a previous TL's standards with absolutely no changes or improvements whatsoever, of course it will be more expensive. Yet, if they used the same capability as the original chips, but built with modern computer technology, they'd be dirt cheap. Your Space Shuttle analogy had the issue of manufacturing TL6 technology for use in a TL6 device at TL7. Had they replaced the entire computer with TL7 equipment but with TL6 capabilities, it would have been cheaper. The reason they could not do that was because of the small scale and the contractual requirement to use obsolete parts instead of actually upgrading the tech, but maintaining the same capability. (TL6 Retrotech, built at TL7)

You actually proved My point on this with the Saturn V rocket. No one would build that today. It would be stupid, but they will build a cheaper launch system, with the same capabilities using TL7 or 8 technology, Retrotech. Or they could expand the capabilities to the limits of Our current technology and far exceeding the capabilities of the Saturn V, for roughly the same price with today's dollars and technology. (SpaceX)
I don't think I was arguing against your point, so...

Then I will respond with, "Oops! My bad."
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
I'm by no means an expert on the smallarms industry, but as I understand it, tooling wears out, which means that the individual components are manufactured to the initial precision, so it's either capital reinvestment, selling an inferior product, or discontinuing the line.

As much as possible, tooling gets recycled, so unless there's a steady market, the manufacturers are going to move to a new model.

One assumes that there's a natural evolution to improving the product, however that's defined, efficiency, cheaper cost of manufacture, and so on.

Recreating the original product is now easier, since you could identify interest and get the start up capital with pre-orders, which is where the Sturmgewehr replicas would come in.

In the example of the knife, it's sort of reached it's optimal form, especially in terms of varieties of shape for specific tasks, and we've been continuously using it, and will probably do so in future, maybe improving it with better materials.

Three dee printing will likely allow us to create parts so that we don't need to initially build the tooling for, especially for those with niche interest, but how much that costs in the Traveller sense, I couldn't tell you, in comparison to recreate the requisite set of tooling and finding or training people with that skillset.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Condottiere said:
I'm by no means an expert on the smallarms industry, but as I understand it, tooling wears out, which means that the individual components are manufactured to the initial precision, so it's either capital reinvestment, selling an inferior product, or discontinuing the line.

As much as possible, tooling gets recycled, so unless there's a steady market, the manufacturers are going to move to a new model.

One assumes that there's a natural evolution to improving the product, however that's defined, efficiency, cheaper cost of manufacture, and so on.

Recreating the original product is now easier, since you could identify interest and get the start up capital with pre-orders, which is where the Sturmgewehr replicas would come in.

In the example of the knife, it's sort of reached it's optimal form, especially in terms of varieties of shape for specific tasks, and we've been continuously using it, and will probably do so in future, maybe improving it with better materials.

Three dee printing will likely allow us to create parts so that we don't need to initially build the tooling for, especially for those with niche interest, but how much that costs in the Traveller sense, I couldn't tell you, in comparison to recreate the requisite set of tooling and finding or training people with that skillset.

I am not an expert in the small arms industry either...lol... The main difference that We have to consider for the economic differences between Our world and the OTU, as to if Retrotech is available, is off-world trade. It is something that has no good correlation on modern Earth, but My thinking would be that, of course We make better versions of lower TL equipment to sell off-world lower TL worlds than Ours'. The closest analog, may be all of those cheap low-tech plastic toys that China and Taiwan produce only to export them to countries like the US or groups like the EU. Just My thoughts on it anyhow.
 

Condottiere

Emperor Mongoose
Speaking of which.

What you can do, is off shore manufacturing, to a region whose technological base is same or one level down from the manufacturing equipment, and transplant the factory.

Once costs go up, whether labour, taxation, or real estate, you could transplant the factory, again.

One area of manufacture that could remain the same, is stuff like bell making, since occasionally a new church need a new bell.
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Condottiere said:
Speaking of which.

What you can do, is off shore manufacturing, to a region whose technological base is same or one level down from the manufacturing equipment, and transplant the factory.

Once costs go up, whether labour, taxation, or real estate, you could transplant the factory, again.

One area of manufacture that could remain the same, is stuff like bell making, since occasionally a new church need a new bell.

I totally agree on the church bell thing. At least until Makertech.
 

Geir

Cosmic Mongoose
I did add fabrication chambers (3D printers of varying complexity) to both Robots and the new CSC. It's not going to kill off manufacturing entirely or turn society post-scarcity before TL17, if then, but it does allow for the option of making spares and replicas, with restrictions. Don't expect to print Credits or even weapons with most models, but if you have an open source file for a fancy church bell or the skills to model one, then there you go...
 

MasterGwydion

Banded Mongoose
Geir said:
I did add fabrication chambers (3D printers of varying complexity) to both Robots and the new CSC. It's not going to kill off manufacturing entirely or turn society post-scarcity before TL17, if then, but it does allow for the option of making spares and replicas, with restrictions. Don't expect to print Credits or even weapons with most models, but if you have an open source file for a fancy church bell or the skills to model one, then there you go...

Post-Scarcity for energy happens are TL-10. Completely robotic manufacturing/agriculture takes place at TL-10 to TL-12, but still requires the same Raw Materials as earlier TLs, so not post-scarcity. TL-17 starts the Early Post-Scarcity Era with Energy-Matter Replication of Base Materials (Elements and non-organic compounds). It goes up from there to anything non-organic, non-sentient, then anything non-sentient, and finally fully sentient sophonts (teleporters).
 
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