Author Topic: A Big Picture  (Read 5471 times)

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Offline sublight (OP)

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A Big Picture
« on: August 15, 2012, 07:13:04 AM »
Ok, so as Boss Dude I think I'm expected to make a big visionary statement on what we are doing and where we are going. This helps everyone know if we are on the same page.


Newtonian Physics Model - Us programers, being a little nerdy, have been drooling over Newtonian Aurora for some time: Long enough to want to make our fan-game Newtonian too. If any fellow fans not actively involved were hoping for the Standard model in C#, you may want to shout out before we get too far along.

Weapon Balance and Time - Large masses at high speeds hold potentially game breaking power. To help reign this in ship acceleration and delta-V will be substantially slower. Perhaps 1/5th of the numbers seen in Steve's Newtonian. To compensate, the construction cycle will be similarly slowed and the expected time increased. Where currently 5-day auto-turns are the 1-month auto-turn equivalent will likely become the norm. A faster time advance combined with slower ship speeds should balance out to about the same game-speed 'feel'

One side effect of all this is that economic summaries will be in more understandable 1-month reports rather than 5-day ticks.

Real Time - Pulsar 4x will be designed for 'real time' play. Think XCOM. Players will specify a speed rate (1x, 60x, 3600x, etc) and a maximum advance time (5 minutes, 30 days, etc) and the game will rapidly run through a series of short sub-pulses at the specified rate for the specified duration (pausing early will be an option)

Technology and Propulsion - How many of you have read the works of David Brin in his Uplift-universe sagas? His works are filled with a wonder of hundreds of different technologies, with no race using them all. Similar thing here. There would be multiple technologies for moving a ship from point A to point B to match the multiple different weapons types. We would also fill in and diversify the other technological areas.

However, no race would want to research them all. In the real world this is called Technological Lockout. Its an old story. Cars: steamer vs internal combustion for example. Eventually one gained a technical edge, a wider commercial acceptance, and attracted more research than the other, leaving the steamer obsolete and unused... but what if the key marketing decision or tech breakthrough and gone the other way? With centuries of isolated development the same theoretical technology could produce different applied tech trees, which is what Pulsar4x would have. At race creation a player would be presented with a number technological progression categories and would be prompted to forever forgo learning one so their scientists can focus on the others.

For example, propulsion.
Universal Progression:
Reaction Drive: Mass goes very fast out one end to produce thrust. Fuel limited.

Race Specific: (pick two)
Dimension Gate: An artificially constructed jump point that allows that can fling a ship to a targeted star system in mere days.
Warp: The usual technobabble. FTL travel faster than Hyper, slower than Gate that only works for interstellar travel between stars where gravity hasn't pulled space-time taut. 
Hyper-Drive: A micro-jump technology that permits extremely fast non-newtonian linear motion. While the hyper drive could be used for interstellar travel, it is still sub-light and probably would be too slow.
Reaction-Less Drive: By clawing directly at the fabric of time/space ships can move without using fuel. Very slow acceleration, but allows speeds almost as fast as hyper.

Ever race has some method of traveling between the stars, but the enemy you fight might travel differently than you do. Same thing with weapons. They probably have at least two ways to kill you, they might not be using the same things you use to kill them. Also, just because your scienists won't research the inferior alien technology doesn't mean your spies can't steal as with any other advanced technology in Aurora.

I'll probably add more latter.
Clarification: Production consumption would also be 'real time' with sub-pulse updates, but reporting and officer death/skill checks are proposed to be pushed out to monthly.
« Last Edit: August 15, 2012, 07:44:23 AM by sublight »

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2012, 07:02:54 PM »
Todays Big Picture vision:

System Propulsion and Movement

Sudo-Newtonian Motion:
We may be doing Newtonian reaction/reaction motion as the starting point, but I'm been thinking as a first pass simplification we might handwave the gravitational effect on ships. Maybe trans-newtonian elements make star ships gravitationally neutrally buoyant or something. It's ugly to the physics student, but having a ship continue in a straight line when not accelerating is both easier to code and easier for the casual player to extrapolate.

We need an energy reference point, say... uranium. That has about 79 TJ/kg. A nuclear reactor that is 20% fuel and extracts 20% of the available energy over 50 years would generate on average 2 megawatts per ton.
That leaves plenty of room for technological improvement and sort of matches the Aurora4x Pressurized Water reactor number. With a 50 year life time it's reasonable to assume a reactor never stops generating.

Conventional Propulsion
Chemical rockets might work for missiles, but anyone trying to explore Sol needs better. We'll use Nuclear-Electric propulsion, where a conventional engine is basically just a reactor with +50% space overhead to include all the necessary piping and nozzles needed to accelerate a generic inert reaction mass.

Conventional Engines would have 3 parameters: size, reactor technology, and specific impulse. Increasing the isp increase deltaV but lowers acceleration. Here are two 150 ton conventional engine examples.

150 ton Conventional Arc-Jet Thruster
Power: 100ton reactor * 2MW/ton = 200MW
Impulse: 1,019s (10 km/s)
Mass rate: 2 kg/s (7,200 L/hour)
Thrust: 20,000 N
Base Acceleration: 0.133 m/s

150 ton Conventional Field-Electric Jet
Power: 100ton reactor * 2MW/ton = 200MW
Impulse: 20,387s (200 km/s)
Mass rate: 7.5 g/s (27 L/hour)
Thrust: 1,500 N (accelerates 1k tons at 1.5 mm/s2)
Base Acceleration: 0.01 m/s

Conventional engines would be required to have at least a 0.01 thrust/mass ratio, so the Field-Electric would be the most fuel efficient design at this reactor tech level. They provide a modest deltaV, but have horrible acceleration.

Consider a 1,000 ton conventional gunboat.
150 ton arcjet thruster
550 tons reaction mass
300 tons armor, sensors, crew quarters, and weapons.
DeltaV: 9.2 km/s  Max Accel: 2cm/s/s

It really can't move all that fast, but it tries.
For weapons it has squeezed in one little 50 ton rail gun.
Using the starting tech levels copied from Newtonian Aurora, it fires a 0.5kg shell at 31.6 km/s with 250 MJ of energy. Recharging takes 1,000 MJ... or 5 seconds of output from the power plant included in the nuclear-electric propulsion system. It might not be able to accelerate and fire at the same time, but we all know what happens when someone big and arrogant charges full speed inward toward a railgun defended system...

I say we bestow on Steve the sincerest form of flattery and just copy his weapon system to start. The numbers looks reasonable, and we can diversify the tech tree with more exotic weapons latter.

Trans-Newtonian Propulsion
With conventional power as a lower bound and reactor power as an upper bound we need to decide on an energy density for sorium. I'll propose 5 TJ/kg: a little less than 10% of uranium with no pesky radiation. At 5 TJ/kg sorium could theoretically accelerate itself to an exhaust speed of 3,162 km/s when all efficiency modifiers are maximized. That corresponds to a minimum fuel usage of 0.31623 kg/mega-newtan.

To soften the extremes let's limit the engine power range to 25-250%. Thats 15x 5% steps down, and 15x 10% steps up. Reducing the max size efficiency savings to a 40% reduction, and we get a 1.5 kg/MN capstone base fuel usage. Fuel usage might start at 2.5 kg/MN, with 10 efficiency techs each reducing fuel costs by 0.2kg/MN each.

So, the Pulsar4x starting base fuel use rate is 2.5kg/s, or roughly 9,000 Litter per MN per hour. That's 45x higher than Newtonian. We'll split the difference between burn time and acceleration, reducing the MN/ton rating in Pulsar to 1/5th or 1/6th. Lets say our Nuclear Thermal equivalent starts at 3 kilo-newtons/ton.

Sample 150 ton Nuclear Thermal Engine
Thrust Modifier: 100% Thrust: 450,000 N
Base Acceleration: 3 m/s
Fuel Use at full burn: 67.5 L/minute
isp: 40,775s (400 km/s)

For anyone disappointed that the starting transnewtonian engine 'only' provides double the theoretical deltaV of a conventional design, take a look at the thrust differences.

Reactionless Drive
[Technobable]In the early days before conventional engines had been phased out a startling discovery was made when a conventional-driven picket was accidentally refueled with sorium instead of ammonium. If was found that when sorium is passed through a neutron flux inside a reactor, the multi-dimensional resonance produces a motive force in excess of the reactors power...[/technobable]

The energy for a reactionless drive doesn't come from no where, it comes from our friend, the nuclear reactor. Of course, our reactors did have room for improvement, so the sorium doubles the reactor output, and uses that energy to double it's own potential. Since only a trickle of sorium is needed we'll toss in an efficiency bonus equivalent to the 25% thrust power level. This gives a fuel usage of 0.8839 kg/MN, implying 640 GJ/kg is extracted. With energy double by the reactor, at starting tech a reactionless drive has effective impulse of 163,000s!

Now, why wouldn't everyone use this great engine? There is one little snag: acceleration. Even with power boosted it takes a while for a reactor with MW output to match the GJs of energy provided by the sorium.

Sample 150 ton Reactionless drive:
100 ton reactor (200MW *2)
Effective isp: 163,000s (1,600 km/s)
Fuel conversion rate: 0.0375 L/minute
Thrust: 1,000 N
Base Acceleration: 0.007 m/s
See Reply #3 for revised Reaction-less drive mechanics.

Please direct any comments or concerns to the Ideas thread.
« Last Edit: March 13, 2013, 06:00:37 PM by sublight »

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2012, 01:26:48 PM »
Planet Maps
Someday there will be enhanced ground combat and planetary maps. That someday will not be initial beta release day. After listening to the ideas thread I have become convinced that people want a non-traditional map with latitude/longitude linked regions, with a 3-d model preferred. It is a cool concept we all like but, regrettably, is more than we can manage at the moment. Rather than implementing a stop-gap with little interest, we are going to continue with Aurora-style colony management and mark improved ground mapping as a requested feature. We'll come back to it after the space-side of Pulsar4x has been finished and beta-released.

Ship Motion and Combat Continued
As previously mentioned, our current goal it to implement an energy-balanced Newtonian motion system. The most radical difference is that range is theoretically unlimited, and fuel efficacy rather than engine power limits maximum speed for a reaction-thruster. This also means that fuel consumption will be orders of magnitude higher as well.

Reaction Drives - Take 2
In Aurora, speed is generally much more important than range. Thus, speed increases (and savings) lead to exponential changes is fuel economy. The Standard->Newtonian transition replaces all 'speed' references with acceleration, and all 'range' references with deltaV. The new balance seems to leave room for improvement, and in the three months since my last post I think I've thought of a few.
- Fuel efficacy vs power: Flattened slightly from 4^P/4 to 3^P/3.
- Fuel efficacy vs size: Replace with %savings = 15 log (EngineSize / 10 tons). A negative percent is a fuel usage increase. Engine sizes limited from 0.1 ton (0.04 MSP) to 1000 tons (20 HS) for +/- 30% fuel use by size.
- These flattened curves allow the step magnitude between fuel efficacy techs to be increase while preserving energy balance, making each tech level a significant improvement over the one before.

Reationless Drives - Redo
A reactionless drive that uses fuel never did felt right, but I've found a new system that logically converts power directly into thrust.
Power = Newtons * Meters / Seconds, or Newtons * Velocity.
Thus, Newtons = Power / Velocity.
For simplified engine design, the drive would offers a linear power curve where Force = ForceMax * (1 - V/Vmax).

A Reactionless Drive has 4 parameters: PowerTech, Size, Optimal Thrust, and Optimal Velocity.
Optimal Thrust and Optimal Velocity are linked by: Thrust= Power / Velocity. Setting Optimal Thrust maximizes speed for the requested thrust. Setting optimal speed maximizes thrust at the requested speed. ForceMax = 2x Thrust Optimal, Vmax = 2x Optimal Velocity.

Size provides a Power Bonus of: 15 log (EngineSize / 100 tons) ((Since they use no fuel reactionless drives will be larger))
PowerTech should be self explanatory. A reactionless drive is the same size as a reactor, but since it produces only thrust and no power has the base power doubled.

Reactionless Drive Example
Consider a 100 ton Pebble Bed gravity-torque reactionless drive, producing 600 MW of motive power.

Mercury Drive:
Set optimal speed for 48 km/s. At this speed optimal thrust is 12,500 N.
MaxThrust = 25,000 N
MaxSpeed = 96 km/s
Base Accel: 0.25 m/s
Time to Optimal Speed: 3 days.     (divide by engine mass fraction)
Time to 90% MaxSpeed: 10.2 days (divide by engine mass fraction)
This engine is designed to have optimal performance at Mercury's orbital velocity for optimal inner-planet maneuvering.

Comet Drive:
Set optimal thrust to 4000 N. At this thurst optimal speed is 150 km/s
MaxThurst: 8,000 N
MaxSpeed: 300 km/s
Base Accel: 0.08 m/s
Time to optimal speed: 60 days    (divide by engine mass fraction)
Time to 90% MaxSpeed: 200 days (divide by engine mass fraction)

All reaction drives would be military engines. They offer tactically superior performance, but impose strategic logistical fuel challenges to keep them moving.

Reactionless drives would be civilian engines. With low acceleration and/or top speed they are vulernable in conflicts, but with no fuel constraints are cheaper and simpler to operate.

Have a comment? Think the first suggested propulsion guidelines were better? Then post your thoughts over in the Ideas thread.

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2012, 11:13:48 AM »
Combat Damage Mechanics

Working from the Inside Out:

Component Damage:
Every component has two parameters. Soak, what it absorbed once destroyed, and Integrity, what it takes to become destroyed.

In the end, damage will become thermal energy and the slagged ship components will probably resemble a modern art glass sculpture. If half of a component's mass gets blown off the ship, components have heat capacities of 0.8 J/gK, and they retain a 50 degree C thermal rise from passing on to other areas then the Soak value works out to 20 MJ/ton.

By default, civilian and delicate electronic components would have an integrity of 1/4 the soak value, or 5 MJ/ton. Hardened Military components may add armor providing +100% integrity for each armor level, and receive the first armor level free.

Since ships are assumed to, on average, displace 10x their empty mass, destroying 1,000 tons displacement of civilian shipping can be expected to require 2.5 GJ of armor penetration. For comparison, a 1 kg railgun shell colliding at 100 km/s relative velocity will provide 5 GJ.

If a damage allocation roll selects an already damaged component, the soak rating is deducted and a new roll is made.

Damage Profile
Same laser/proximity nuke profile as Newtonian.

Missiles and Railguns inflict 1/3 their damage to the armor column they are centered over, 1/6th their damage to each column on either side, 1/12th that to the next column, and so forth until the damage either falls below the armor rating or runs out of ship. Since armor tiles are much wider than they are thick I think this gives a more realistic crater shape than the newtonian missile rule.

See Newtonain Aurora. Alternatively, we may replace those with Particle Shields that reflect a static % of all damage up to the shield strength rating.

Contact Missile Damage
A contact missile deals the kinetic damage as if it was a massive railgun shell or the explosive rating, whichever is greater. For example, a missile with 3 tons remaining after fuel expenditure 'bumps' a fleeing ship at 10 km/s. Kinetic impact energy is 150 GJ. If the missile included a 1-ton RDX conventional 6 MJ warhead, the kinetic energy would be used. If the missile contained a 150kTon nuke (~600 GJ) then the explosive damage would be used.

Think my numbers are off or have some other idea? Head over to the Ideas thread and post it!
« Last Edit: December 05, 2012, 11:22:11 AM by sublight »

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2013, 07:12:42 AM »
Pulsar Weapons: Newtonian Rules
New/Revised Weapon Concepts and tentative mechanics:

Weapon Types:
Direct Weapons: Kinetic(Slug), Kinetic(ScatterShot), GRASER, LASER, MASER.
Missile Types: Nuke (Proximity), Nuke (Pumped Laser), Fragmentation, EMP, Kinetic Kill Vehicle

This gives 5 'beam' weapons and 5 missile designs.
Any of them (except possible the MASER and EMP missile) can kill a ship surprisingly quickly under ideal circumstances.

We'll try to dream up a 6th more exotic beam and missile type to give to spoiler races.

Kinetic Slug Depending on the flavor, this may be a rail or coil gun. The effect is the same: a modest hunk of metal traveling very very fast. These are extremely dangerous if the attacker and target are closing at any significant speed, but the long transit times make targeting a non-stationary target problematic.

Kinetic Scatter Shot This replaces the kinetic slug with 100 ball bearings scattered, ideally, in a uniform distribution. Scatter guns have a weapon_proximity equal to twice the weapon_drift, and will always score at least one hit on a non-manuvering target as long as the weapon_drift is no more than 5x the target radius. Regrettably, scatter shot has a lower muzzle velocity than a slug and will thus do less damage even if every scattered shot hits.

LASER A medium frequency coherent beam of inferred or visible light. Photons in this electromagnetic spectrum tend to induce vibration and/or electron excitement in the target molecules resulting in localized surface heating. A sufficiently intense laser can flash-vaporize layers of armor and send concussive shockwaves inward further propagating the damage. These weapons function as you would expect. Lasers travel at the speed of light, minimizing the target's time to maneuver. Laser beams will spread however, suffering a damage drop-off. The happy side effect of the spread is that it also counteracts beam drift accuracy issues. Pulsar assumes a 1 micro-meter wavelength for calculating minimal theoretical beam diffusion.

GRASER The high frequency 'Gama Ray Laser' is technically a high-energy X-ray Laser and is occasionally called an X-RASER. These high-energy photons have a high material penetration, allowing GRASERs to ignore any shields. Each 10cm-layer of armor is assumed to offer a half-thickness of protection against them, so a ship with 3 armor layers will suffer a 12.5% leak. While armor will be destroyed if it blocks damage greater than the armor's rating, over all the GRASER will resemble Aurora's Meson Canon. Pulsar assumes a 1 nano-meter wavelength for calculating minimal theoretical beam diffusion.

Interestingly, in the vacuum of space the shorter wavelengths of X-ray lasers allow a theoretically higher maximum beam coherence than is possible visible light lasers. However, making this theory a reality will require an empire to make a moderate research effort.

MASER These low frequency 'Microwave Laser' have little photon energy, but they have remarkable penetration of most non-conducting ceramic armors while their associated electromagnetic-waves are capable of inducing electron motion in anything conducting. This produces interesting effects in electrical systems. At long-ranges these coherent high-power microwaves can induce interference in targeting and sensor computers that increases up to out-right jamming with enough power and proximity. Closer still and a strong enough maser can reproduce the lingering effects of tripped circuits and crew nausea from a jump emergence. Pulsar assumes a 1 milli-meter wavelength for calculating minimal theoretical beam diffusion.

Minimal theoretical divergence in vacuum is wave_length / (Pi * weapon_caliber).

Proximity Nuclear Missile
With a nuke 'close' is usually good enough to kill a ship, affording nukes the freedom to pursue high-accuracy proximity firing solutions. The danger of these beasts is the primary reason 'close' ship formation is still measured in tens of kilometers.

Pumped Laser Nuclear Missile
These nukes are designed to detonate at over 1k km ranges, outside of finial-fire point defense coverage. While the X-Ray laser is less accurate than anything a ship would mount, they generally also fire from a lot closer than many ships can get. While these lasers are also a lot weaker than a proximity detonation, they do avoid pesky beam point-defense fire.

EMP Missile
The strongest Nuclear EMP bursts are actually secondary effects generated by interaction with a planetary atmosphere and magnetic field. In the vacuum of space these Non-Nuclear-Electromagnetic-Pulse 'grenades' offer the only missile-ranged non-leathal combat option. In practice, their research is usually driven by benevolent politicians. Given the choice to use a weapon that neutralize a target for 30-300 seconds or a proximity nuke that will permanently silence the opposition, most ship captains will pick the nuke. This leaves the EMP missile typically restricted to warning-shots and extreme live-fire exercise.

An EMP Missile divides a conventional explosion into area damage like a proximity nuke, but will use the MASER energy density effects. (to be determined)

Kinetic Kill Vehicle
The only thing worse than a direct impact by a kinetic kill vehicle is a hit by a direct hit by a nuke. A multi-ton object traveling at interplanetary speeds will kill. Some of these are filled with conventional explosives for use in orbital bombardment, but even a payload of concrete can reach kinetic energies measured on the kilo-ton scale. Luckily, their accuracy tends to be limited. A KKV can be anything from a balistic-coasting soft-killed nuke to a cheap decoy warhead.

If a K.K.V. hits, treat it as a kinetic slug weighting several thousand kg.

Fragmentation Missiles
Fragmentation missiles are often sophisticated variations of wrapping a conventional explosive in scrap metal. On detonation, a large fraction of the explosive energy is converted into kinetic energy that turns the missile into a rapidly expanding cloud of debris still on a ballistic trajectory for the target. This allows a devastating proximity-like hit that can rival a close nuclear detonation. While generally still less accurate than a proximity nuclear missile, fragmentation missiles are both cheaper and share the Pulsed Laser Missile's ability to activate from outside of final-defense fire range.

Multiple Fragmentation Missiles may be detonated together to make a combined debris cloud of greater initial size and total mass.
After hitting or missing their target debris clouds will linger until their expansion reduces them to an area density of less than 0.1g / square-meter. Until then, any following missile salvo or task group passing through a debris cloud rolls a random number between 1 and 5,000. This number is the distance in km between the center of the task group or salvo and the debris cloud. If there is an overlap, Bad Things may happen depending on relative velocity.

Ships catastrophically destroyed (remaining damage after ship destruction > 1/2 ship's total soak rating) will also turn into debris clouds rather than wrecks.

Weapon Concepts
Hit-Chance = [ (weapon_proximity + target_radius) / (weapon_drift + target_jink) ] ^ 2.
If the Hit-chance is < 1% or (weapon_proximity + target_radius + weapon_drift) < target_jink then the weapon automatically misses.

weapon_drift = distance_to_target * weapon_jitter * sq_root( 1 + relative_speed / (trackingSpeed * distance_to_target))
This is the maximum distance between where you aim a weapon and where the weapon will actually end up going.

trackingSpeed: This starts at 0.125 radians per second, which by an odd coincidence comes out to 1250 km/s at 10k km: the same starting tracking speed of the TransNewtonian rule set.

distance_to_target: This is the unguided distance to target. Minimum of 1k km if a direct weapon, or 1 second relative closing speed if a guided missile.

Target_jink = 0.5 * target_maneuvering_accell * dT^ 1.5, or the distance of closest approach between the target's plotted position and the weapon's zero-jitter median trajectory. Whichever is greater. This is potentially shorter than the classic distance-acceleration equation, but a ship dodging multiple shots can't keep accelerating in the same direction.

Target_maneuvering_accell is the target's Continual Evasive Manuvering rating. 'Continual Evasive Manuvering' will be a new combat option similar to the Aurora Shields-Active order. Evasive maneuvering is micro-level local dodging that will not move a ship on the Systems map, is deducted from Maximum Acceleration for the purposes of system-map maneuvering, and will continually burn reaction mass from any ship with a reaction-drive engine. Like shields, Continual Evasive Manuvering is intended for combat situations and not long-duration picket duties.

weapon_jitter: This starts at 1m per 1k kms for direct weapons, or 100m per 1k kms for missiles.
The missile number works out to 10cm at 1km, which seems to be comparable to the official accuracy of modern battle tanks. The reduced direct weapon jitter is a concession to game play to ensure anti-missile point defenses can work.

Task-group Formations
Ships in a task group are assumed to be stacked vertically 20 km - 100 km apart depending on the number of ships. This vertical orientation allows omnidirectional firing along the elliptic planes of a star system, provides room for ships to evasively maneuver independently if needed, and keeps ships close enough together to provide mutual point-defense support. The spacing also reduces the risk that a single missile or debris field will take out multiple ships.

Horizontal spacing and orientation will be handled similarly to Aurora's formation system.

Missile Salvos
Just as ships in a formation are kms apart verticaly, The salvoed missiles are also given spacing. For now, lets say they are 0.1 seconds apart, up to a maximum of 1 km at speeds of 10+ km/s. This means few proximity attacks short of a heavy nuke can take out more than one attacking missile at a time.

On the other hand, every missile fired from the same location with the same speed against the same target is included in a salvo, so fire control saturation will require more elaborate planing. This is only fair considering the how much damage a single missile can do under newtonian rules.

Point Defense
The minimum final-defense range will be reduced to 1k km to reflect accuracy limitations of weapons with jitter.

Final-fire point-defenses aim for a soft-kill of the guidance package to convert an incoming missile into an unguided kinetic rocket. Even though an unlucky kinetic kill vehicle can still one-shot a battle ship, converting incoming missiles into expanding shrapnel clouds is rarely an improvement.

Since some missiles may activate outside of final-defense ranges and a KKV's chance of impacting drops as the ballistic distance increases the lower accuracy of an area-defense may be worth considering.

Any thoughts? Comments? Feel free to post them over in the ideas thread.

Offline se5a

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #5 on: April 14, 2013, 04:46:42 PM »
Have you thought about multiplayer?

also, one thing that made me stop playing Aurora was that combat was a boring micromanagement hell - especially if you had fighters that needed resupplying during battle. some good unit AI would help immensely here.
Also being able to set up default strategies IAs for different circumstances etc would go a long way to helping multiplayer if more than two people (ie, force combat to be completely AI and have the players review what happened after the fact, and adjust strategy/tactic orders, rather than slow the game down for all other players while two players duke it out painstakingly slowly)

Offline Elouda

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #6 on: April 14, 2013, 09:17:14 PM »
Wow, this looks incredible!  :o

Really looking forward to some of the tactics all these weapons open up.

I noticed that conventional missiles were not listed, but will they still be an option?

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #7 on: April 15, 2013, 06:52:48 AM »
Our first release will be exclusively hot-seat multiplayer for lack of an AI. Writing the AI is phase two. In fact, our long term plan is to make heavy use of scripting to allow players to automate tasks they don't enjoy while focusing on their favorite bits. In the long run, this may make multiplayer less about direct competition and more about challenging friends to take on custom user-made AI scripts.

Conventional ICBMs will be part of the Trans-Newtonian Classic rule set from the start.

In the newtonian rules... I considered conventional missiles primarily a planetary-combat related feature. We'll create the mechanics for something whenever planetary maps and ground combat code is started. For now consider it "coming soon"

Offline se5a

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #8 on: April 16, 2013, 05:55:03 PM »
sounds good!
I may be interested in helping out at somepoint.
I have a little C# and winforms experience. currently messing with Mogre trying to put together an Asteroids type game.

Offline ardem

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #9 on: April 18, 2013, 07:30:46 PM »
Question on Shields and missiles.

Are Shields attached to the hull, what I mean by this the shield is close to the hull and really like an extra layer of armour.

Or are shields a distance away from the ship and add a buffer zone to incoming missiles and detonation. Not that it would help much but would stop missiles exploding against the hull.

Offline sublight (OP)

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #10 on: September 21, 2013, 01:28:50 PM »

Lets try this... shields are not attached to the hull but offer a buffer zone dampening up to, say, half the incoming damage within limits.

Magnetic dipole shields emulating planetary magnetic fields are a developmental challenge undertaken by nearly every scenting race as an alternative to heavy mass shielding for charged particle protection. This concept is radically improved upon by the discovery that Vendarite doped ferro-magnetic filings can be rigidly suspended along self-reinforcing magnetic field lines to create a programmable shaped rigid shells. This discovery is the forerunner of all trans newtonian force shield technology in use today.

Base_Tonage: A ship constant equal to 5 tons per meter diameter.

Shield Strength: The percent of damage deflected by the shield. This is 50% at full charge if the total shield generator tonage is greater than the Base_Tonage; or is equal to Shield_Tonage / (2x Base_Tonage) if smaller.

Resilience: The maximum impact that shields offer full benefit against. Equal to Tech x Shield_Tonage / Base_Tonage.

Recharge Rate: Shield points gained every second while powered. One shield point = 1/10%.

Shield strength drains by twice the recharge rate while unpowered, and drop in proportion to each impact.

Power Cost: Equal to Resilience * Recharge Rate ^2 / 125 with a discount of 10*log(size / 10)

Example. Lets say the sample ship Enterprise traded in an active scanner and two Phasors for twin 200 ton MaxSceen shield generators

MaxScreen 200:
T-2 Resilience: 25 GJ
T-1 Regen: 1
Size Power/Cost Discount: 13%

The Enterprise has a diameter of 58 meters for a Base_Tonage of 290 tons.
This gives a max Shield strength of 50%, a +0.1%/second recharge rate, and 34.5 GJ resilience with a total power cost of 240 MW.

This shield would reduce each apollo pellet impact to 28.5 MJ for only a 13% chance of loosing an armor tile at a cost of 0.1% shield strength.

The first Gemini impact would be reduced to 1,905 MJ with only 75 MJ leaking through undamaged armor, and reduce the shield strength to 44.4%. Seven seconds later the 2nd Gemini impact would be reduced to 2,092 MJ with 137 MJ leaking past undamaged armor and shields reduced to 40.1%.

Alternatively consider a Scream fragmentation impact. The Scream fragments would strike at 215 km/s in an expanding disk with a density of 167g / m^2 for 3.85 GJ/m of bad news. The MaxShield can only stop 17.25 GJ of the 223.3 GJ incoming. The shield is reduced to 0% strength, every armor tile is destroyed, with 174 GJ still remaining to trash the interior. The Enterprise has 250 GJ total of integrity and soak so there will, probably, be some survivors.

If you haven’t noticed the good news is missile defense will be easier in Newtonian Pulsar. The bad news is you really don’t want to get hit.

Beam Fire Control Revision

weapon_drift = distance_to_target * weapon_jitter * sq_root( 1 + relative_speed / (trackingSpeed * distance_to_target * sqrt(tracking_time - 9)))

Tracking time maxes out at 109 seconds for 10x tracking speed bonus. A fire control takes a minimum of 10 seconds for target acquisition.

trackingSpeed: starting tracking speed has been reduced to 0.01 radians per second. At 10k km this gives 100 km/s tracking after 10 seconds or 1,000 km/s tracking at max bonus. I think this will offer sufficient incentive not to use minimalist 10 ton fire controls.


I’ve lost my original notes, but it looks like LASER and GRASER devices have an aperture in cm equal to the square root of their tonnage. MASERs will have an aperture 10 times this, and even so will have aperture limited beam divergence rather than technology limited.

Consider if the Enterprise replaced two 100 ton Phaser weapons with two 100 ton MASER type Scramblers. The scramblers will have a 1-meter beam aperture giving 0.0003° beam divergence for 5.6m / k km spread. A minimum MASER damage threshold of 1 kJ/m^2 gives this MASER a maximum range of about 32 k km.

Electronic components are vulnerable to hard and soft resets from MASER weapons if they take 1% or 0.1% their integrity in damage.

A hard reset triggers jump blindness, deactivating the component for 30-300 seconds depending on crew training.

A soft reset causes all beam fire control tracking_times to revert to 0s, causes missile fire controls to release any controlled missiles, and deactivates active and passive sensors for 10 seconds.

Unhardened electronic components have an integrity to cross sectional area ratio of 891 KJ times cuberoot(tons).

The Barbarian Vanguard PD-FC masses 40 tons, and so so has a hard reset threshold of 30.5 KJ/m^s and a soft reset threshold of 3.05 KJ/m^s.

The Scrambler MASER would have a 100% chance of forcing at least a soft reset at 18.3 k km, and has a 100% chance of forcing a hard reset at 5.8k km.

EMP Missiles

An EMP missile uses an explosively pumped flux compression generator to generate an intense omnidirectional EMP pulse. Mechanically, an emp missile converts 10% of a chemical warhead into a MESON-like pulse.

A 1-ton HMX driven warhead would produce a 15 KJ/m^2 EMP strike at 100 meters proximity. This would cause a soft reset of just about every electrical component, with a 24% chance to crash a Vanguard past soft reset into a full jump blindness crash.

Interstellar Travel

Jump Drives:
I'm toying with the idea of giving jump drives a static speed value instead of a speed multiplier. In this case, ship speed would instead determine the jump distance. By moving faster a ship a ship can enter/exit jump space closer to a star. If the minimum speed needed to jump is the square of the stellar escape velocity, then a ship puttering along at 50 km/s would have to spend years slogging out past Neptune orbit before it could jump, while a speeder ship traveling twice as fast could jump at half the distance.

Jump Gates:
An expensive asteroid transformation project that enables near instantaneous travel 1-way. Building a gate would be slightly easier than using orbital habitats to run factories to build a shipyard on an uninhabitable rock. Like a shipyard, jump gates would also require years of expanding to handle larger ships, but once built would greatly accelerate trading logistics.

Thoughts? Comments?

Offline Jorgen_CAB

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #11 on: September 21, 2013, 05:40:15 PM »
This all sounds very interesting, although I find it hard to comment without putting it all into context.  :)

One question that I have is about the damage model. Will there be different armour protection for different components and/or certain components that are more exposed than others?
I presume, for example, that most sensor system would be more exposed than say a missile magazine. Engines would be more exposed than most other components on the ship. I also suppose that turrets will be targeted as something being on the outside of the hull and armoured separately. I don't think that you said much about how damage will be applied to a ship and/or whether there will be a chance an attack can hit a weak spot on a ship by chance etc..

Offline NihilRex

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Re: A Big Picture
« Reply #12 on: March 15, 2014, 02:58:49 AM »
As a comment on the proposed shield - Technobabble - short ranged grab projectors "spike" at incoming projectiles and beams, deflecting them from the hull.   Projectors pulse just enough power to deflect the incoming, then retarget if they have capacitor power left.

Id also have 2 versions.   call them Reactive and Mesh.   Mesh works better at lots of little incoming - more small projectors per unit area.   Reactive has fewer projectors, but more capacitor, meaning it can deflect larger projectiles.

Obviously this means that shields would benefit directly from 3 techs, tracking speed, reactionless drive, and capacitor tech.   It also cuts down on ubershields protecting against highspeed sand and similar saturation tactics.



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