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Author Topic: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions  (Read 56484 times)

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Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #675 on: March 27, 2013, 03:08:54 PM »
If only common sense was as common as the name suggests ;D!

This, sadly, is very true. But things like "Try to post at least onece a week and let us know if you can't", "Respect the other players' ons and offs", "Be consistent with the person and tense you use", these things are actually common courtesy. Again, it is less common that it ought to be, but discourtesy is something that can be penalised, unlike lack of sense!

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Funny thing is, I've found such "rules for freeform games" to be often virtually indistinguishable from some systems I know, often of the "narrativist" or "old school" kinds. It's actually only logical. After all, they have to deal with either all conflicts or just fights, and set a pacing mechanism and a means to determine who gets the upper hand, with what consequences and who can narrate what parts of it.
But yeah, you should adapt them to the specific concept, and the specific people in the group, no matter whether it's nominally freeform or system >:)!

Actually, I was meaning things like the following example, rather than PvP, but PvP was the easiest example.

A while ago I started a game where the players were all survivors of a zombie apocalypse. In the rules of play I specified that no-one was to reference the zombies IC. My reason for this was simple. My idea for what the zombies were like would almost certainly be different from other peoples: there are a lots of different types of zombies out there in popular horror fiction, after all. If someone specifically described the zombies as being one specific way, in an IC post, that would become canon, and might put off people who envisioned the zombies as being a different way.

As the plot was to focus on the social pressures and interactions of the survivors, the exact nature of the zombies was not relevant!

That is the sort of thing I was meaning: a rule designed to enable players to get the most out of the setting without limiting anyone else's enjoyment.

Another example, perhaps, would be my insistence in sci-fi games that lasers are not viable hand weapons!

*nods* I just made basic rules and will be adding more within the next 24 hours, I can even think of them.

Rules tend to evolve anyway. One of my earliest group games I started out with 9 rules. I wanted 10, and so rule nine became "There is no rule nine".

This has become something of a tradition with me!

Offline Moraline

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #676 on: March 27, 2013, 03:15:24 PM »
Rule #11: Don't forget your towel. If you do not have a towel then please ask the GM for one and for goodness sake, Don't lose it!

Damn, I just went and messed up your rule set. LOL  Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I was just being goofy and wanted to add:

"Hi, Chrys!" I say as I wave emphatically like some deranged lunatic.

Offline Ciosa

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #677 on: March 27, 2013, 03:18:11 PM »

Another example, perhaps, would be my insistence in sci-fi games that lasers are not viable hand weapons!


Even less so, if you've attended the Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #678 on: March 27, 2013, 03:58:06 PM »
Rule #11: Don't forget your towel. If you do not have a towel then please ask the GM for one and for goodness sake, Don't lose it!

Damn, I just went and messed up your rule set. LOL  Sorry, I couldn't help myself, I was just being goofy and wanted to add:

"Hi, Chrys!" I say as I wave emphatically like some deranged lunatic.

Hi Mora.

*huggles*

Douglas Adams' private jokes aside though, that is probably the sort of thing I would put in a HHGTTG rp, yes.

Even less so, if you've attended the Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy

Yeah, but seriously, what is the best way to deflect a beam of light? Answer: a mirror. So if you dress your stormtroopers in tinfoil, any laser fired at them is reflected straight back at the person firing it! Same goes for lightsabres. Energy weapons are too easily deflected. A bullet is much more effective!

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #679 on: March 27, 2013, 04:25:59 PM »
I do believe in your standard SF setting what you generally want is plasma weapons, since superheated ionized gas can't just be reflected back at you.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #680 on: March 27, 2013, 05:02:27 PM »
The power of the laser matters too - enough energy will create enough heat and it'll melt what it hits instead of reflecting off. Even more energy and it'll just explode via thermal transfer shock.

Granted, you did say 'hand weapons' - but that's sci-fi for you, it just takes Sufficiently Advanced Batteries to power a suitably destructive laser gun.
« Last Edit: March 27, 2013, 05:03:40 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #681 on: March 27, 2013, 05:47:00 PM »
Whereas all it takes to power a projectile weapon is cordite...

I don't really want to get into a fight about what scifi weapons should be like... But yes, hand weapons. It has to be light, easy to aim, and not explode catastrophically when the other guy puts a bullet into the fifty pound back-pack that it takes to power it for a single shot...!

The point is, we have a perfectly good method of killing each other in the bullet. We've been using in for well over half a millennium, with increasing success. There is a rule in technology: If it works, don't fix it!

I know that someone is going to say that the the gun was developed to replace the bow and arrow, so why shouldn't the laser be developed to replace the gun...

Actually, not so. The gun was developed to replace the catapult, trebuchet and other such siege engines. It was smaller, more manoeuvrable and lighter that the previous devices for hurling rocks, was more accurate, had a longer range and a greater rate of fire. It was also more effective, having a higher projectile velocity and thus doing more damage.

The hand gun was developed from the cannon as a logical extension. It was less accurate and slower to load than a long bow, but was much more effective against even heavy armour at a much longer range.

If someone can develop a laser weapon that has twice the range, twice the effectiveness and twice the rate of fire of a 105mm howitzer, then I'm sure the world's military will take it up...

I do believe in your standard SF setting what you generally want is plasma weapons, since superheated ionized gas can't just be reflected back at you.

Ah, plasma, the fifth state of matter. Yes. We already have a perfectly good plasma weapon thought. It is called an armour piercing shell! To create plasma you need to put a large amount of energy into a very small amount of matter. The easiest way to do this is to hit it with something travelling very fast.

If you hit the armour of a tank (for example) with a tungsten bar that is travelling at something like 1700 m/s, the metal is turned instantly into superheated plasma!

Offline Cyrano Johnson

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Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #682 on: March 27, 2013, 05:54:58 PM »
Oh, I'm not anti-bullet by any means. In fact bullets may well evolve to have other advantages over the directed-energy-weapon, like self-guiding and self-propelled rounds (essentially mini-missiles) and other such fun things. I don't actually think it's super-likely that pew-pew-zap-zap weapons will replace the gun in some linear fashion; they'll probably be niche weapons used for specific purposes. (We see the beginnings of this in current directed energy weapons, which are used for things like frying an enemy's electronics.)

In SF film and television, energy weapons are really more a dramatic signal than anything else, to let you know you're In The Future.

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #683 on: March 27, 2013, 06:23:25 PM »
Oh, I'm not anti-bullet by any means. In fact bullets may well evolve to have other advantages over the directed-energy-weapon, like self-guiding and self-propelled rounds (essentially mini-missiles) and other such fun things. I don't actually think it's super-likely that pew-pew-zap-zap weapons will replace the gun in some linear fashion; they'll probably be niche weapons used for specific purposes. (We see the beginnings of this in current directed energy weapons, which are used for things like frying an enemy's electronics.)

In SF film and television, energy weapons are really more a dramatic signal than anything else, to let you know you're In The Future.

Well said!

In fact, laser weapons that are capable of flattening an entire city block already exist. The laser is not the thing that does the damage, however!

And of course, the other big problem with a directed energy weapon is that you can't hit something that is over the horizon with one! You need direct line of sight. Great for space battles, but not so good where you want to lob a shell at a target over ten kilometres away.

Oh and let's also look at the subject of space battles...

Lasers move at the speed of light. Interstellar space craft move a lot faster that this! Or at least they are capable of doing so.

Space battles would normally take place over a volume of space measured in hundreds of thousands of miles, between ships travelling at c-fractional velocities. By the time your laser reaches it's target, the target isn't there. However, if you fire a cloud of c-fractional ball-bearings into your enemy's path, chances are he's going to be dead meat!

Of course, this is all just my opinion, and others are welcome to their own opinions.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #684 on: March 29, 2013, 10:42:00 AM »
There was a big discussion about that in another thread...and what I think it really comes down to is that they're fairly similar assuming realistic - (sub-C) tactical maneuvering speeds and adherence to the laws of motion and inertia. If you assume FTL tactical movement like in Star Trek (or for that matter, FTL movement of any kind), you've already dumped everything we know about physics into the compost heap, so go nuts and invent literally anything you want.

Otherwise:

In space, a Laser will reach its target much faster than the Giant Space Shotgun of ball-bearings, so it's harder to dodge. It will, however, be attenuated and dispersed by distance, so laser weapons become less effective the further away the target is, whereas physical projectiles maintain their kinetic energy.

The Giant Space Shotgun, on the other hand, is limited by the fact that once they've been fired, they can't alter course, and even if the ball bearings themselves are not easily detectable by Insert Space Sensors Here, the act of firing them will be, so the enemy knows you're shooting at them and roughly where you've shot based on relative positions and their current trajectory. Now it becomes a contest between the target's ability to get out of the volume you shot into, or alter course enough to never be in that volume at all, before the pellets arrive. So again, range becomes a factor, because the further out you fire, the more time an enemy has to make said course adjustments.

End result...it entirely depends on the underlying tech that powers them. If you have super-advanced power sources/reactors, you'll want to go with the energy weapons, since they don't need ammunition, whereas kinetic strike weapons are going to be less power-intensive to fire but require significantly more powerful/complex computers to aim them properly.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 10:43:42 AM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #685 on: March 29, 2013, 11:17:08 AM »
Or...

And this has always been my preferred option...

The capital ship is the carrier. The principal weapon system on board it is the manned fighter ship. Fighters are not FTL capable, (unlike the carrier), but are one heck of a lot faster in normal space and a lot more manoeuvrable. The pilots would normally be genetically engineered to have faster reflexes and be able to withstand the increased G-forces. Plus they would be curled up into a ball, surrounded by a gelatinous gloop, and plugged directly into the fighter's control system. (The gloop is unfortunately necessary to cushion them from the G-forces, as it really makes a mess of their fur).

The fighters would be armed with guided missiles, energy weapons and fire-and-forget kinetic weapons. Basically they would be a small life-support pod surrounded by weapons and strapped to an engine...

The carrier's weapons would mostly be defensive - close defence lasers and the like.

And now, Glyph, I must ask you, please to wash your mouth out with soap, for using such foul language! The two most offensive four letter words it is possible to say to a sci-fi purist occur in your first paragraph.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #686 on: March 29, 2013, 12:44:33 PM »
You must be a Star Wars fan. Those are also 4-letter words. :D And you're the one who said spaceships would move a lot faster than light in combat situations - Trek is the only prominent franchise where this is true, barring extreme niche cases like the Culture, so it's your own fault.

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The capital ship is the carrier. The principal weapon system on board it is the manned fighter ship. Fighters are not FTL capable, (unlike the carrier), but are one heck of a lot faster in normal space and a lot more manoeuvrable. The pilots would normally be genetically engineered to have faster reflexes and be able to withstand the increased G-forces. Plus they would be curled up into a ball, surrounded by a gelatinous gloop, and plugged directly into the fighter's control system. (The gloop is unfortunately necessary to cushion them from the G-forces, as it really makes a mess of their fur).

The fighters would be armed with guided missiles, energy weapons and fire-and-forget kinetic weapons. Basically they would be a small life-support pod surrounded by weapons and strapped to an engine...

If you're using carrier-ships, you're getting something into a hybrid of previous issues. Your fighters will be better off as entirely unmanned drones than manned ships, controlled via remote telemetry from the carrier. Every pound of mass you don't have to allocate to life support is another pound of engines/fuel/armor/weapons, and the only advantage a living pilot has over a computer is the ability to disobey orders/improvise - great for a story/RP, of limited use in actual combat. Granted, we don't have sophisticated AI programs yet, but we also don't have interstellar spacecraft or laser cannons, and the ultimate limiter in either case is....range, yet again, because unless you have FTL communication, your fighters are limited to lightspeed in receiving instructions.

Guided missiles are a good middle-ground option, but they're another variation on the 'volume of space' issue the shotgun pellets had. To make them maneuverable, they need fuel, which consumes mass, which means less payload, and once they've expended their fuel, they become dumb-fire projectiles again. A missile carrying enough fuel to travel to a long-range target under power the whole way will either be so big it's not a missile so much as a disposable spacecraft in its own right, or have basically no payload beyond kinetic impact (which will drop as it expends fuel and thus mass, so range again is a factor). You'll probably, in the end, get something similar to how missile duels are conducted in David Weber's books, where the missiles launch under power, go ballistic for most of their trip, then activate another engine for terminal maneuvers against the target.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 12:46:36 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #687 on: March 29, 2013, 02:05:00 PM »
You must be a Star Wars fan. Those are also 4-letter words. :D And you're the one who said spaceships would move a lot faster than light in combat situations - Trek is the only prominent franchise where this is true, barring extreme niche cases like the Culture, so it's your own fault.

Au contraire. I did not say that ships move faster than light in combat situations, I merely said that interstellar ships are capable of moving a lot faster than light. There is a technique called "microjumping" which some sci-fi authors like Elizabeth Moon allow and others like C.J. Cherryh prefer not to. If your ships are allowed to microjump, they can easily skip out of the path of a laser. Of course the issue with this is that ithe only way to detect a laser has been fired at you is to be hit by it!

And while I prefer star wars to star trek, I'm not really a fan of either. I'm a born-again C. J. Cherryh fan.

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If you're using carrier-ships, you're getting something into a hybrid of previous issues. Your fighters will be better off as entirely unmanned drones than manned ships, controlled via remote telemetry from the carrier. Every pound of mass you don't have to allocate to life support is another pound of engines/fuel/armor/weapons, and the only advantage a living pilot has over a computer is the ability to disobey orders/improvise - great for a story/RP, of limited use in actual combat. Granted, we don't have sophisticated AI programs yet, but we also don't have interstellar spacecraft or laser cannons, and the ultimate limiter in either case is....range, yet again, because unless you have FTL communication, your fighters are limited to lightspeed in receiving instructions.

Limited to lightspeed in receiving communications. Precicely why the manned fighter ship will always beet the remotely controlled drone. As for an AI, it is only as good as the guy who programmed it. The AI cannot improvise, and in a situation it has not been programmed to deal with, it will reset and revert to some base-line default.

This is why I will always go with a combination of AI and pilot, connected by a neural implant chip in the pilot's brain, working together as one entity.

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Guided missiles are a good middle-ground option, but they're another variation on the 'volume of space' issue the shotgun pellets had. To make them maneuverable, they need fuel, which consumes mass, which means less payload, and once they've expended their fuel, they become dumb-fire projectiles again. A missile carrying enough fuel to travel to a long-range target under power the whole way will either be so big it's not a missile so much as a disposable spacecraft in its own right, or have basically no payload beyond kinetic impact (which will drop as it expends fuel and thus mass, so range again is a factor). You'll probably, in the end, get something similar to how missile duels are conducted in David Weber's books, where the missiles launch under power, go ballistic for most of their trip, then activate another engine for terminal maneuvers against the target.

Absolutely.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #688 on: March 29, 2013, 03:24:16 PM »
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Au contraire. I did not say that ships move faster than light in combat situations, I merely said that interstellar ships are capable of moving a lot faster than light. There is a technique called "microjumping" which some sci-fi authors like Elizabeth Moon allow and others like C.J. Cherryh prefer not to. If your ships are allowed to microjump, they can easily skip out of the path of a laser.

If you're being shot at, isn't that a combat situation? ???
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Of course the issue with this is that ithe only way to detect a laser has been fired at you is to be hit by it!

Precisely. So in an environment where communication is also limited to lightspeed, lasers gain the advantage of being effectively guaranteed-hit weapons, the problem becomes if they are close enough to do significant damage after accounting for dispersion.



Limited to lightspeed in receiving communications. Precicely why the manned fighter ship will always beet the remotely controlled drone. As for an AI, it is only as good as the guy who programmed it. The AI cannot improvise, and in a situation it has not been programmed to deal with, it will reset and revert to some base-line default.

This is why I will always go with a combination of AI and pilot, connected by a neural implant chip in the pilot's brain, working together as one entity.


See, the fighter pilot is also limited to lightspeed in receiving instructions, and as you said, the AI's strength depends on its programmers - if you get awesome geneticists, I get awesome technicians :D. A good brute-force AI will just carry a vast number of potential scenarios uploaded before launch, and choose the most-appropriate of its options when encountering something that doesn't perfectly fit parameters. Not as good as a sentient improvising, but can be good enough - and does it matter that the living pilot can improvise if he's fighting a robot drone with twice his armor, half again his speed and maneuverability, and twenty percent more destructive firepower, all contained in a hull only a few percent larger than his? (Disclaimer, numbers chosen entirely at random). You're assuming extreme genetic tinkering and engineering to basically custom-design a sub-species of fighter pilot capable of withstanding maneuvers a machine can handle innately, but for a robot drone, all it needs is a 'close enough' scenario for its greater equipment loadout to carry the day.

Online AndyZ

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #689 on: March 29, 2013, 03:45:56 PM »
Not necessarily about the autohit.  Some weapons have a charge up time, and if you see the weapon powering up, you can quickly start getting ready to dodge.

Offline LunarSage

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #690 on: March 29, 2013, 03:48:59 PM »
RIFTS had a blurb about lasers...

The books state in more than one instance that laser weapons do not make a sound, apart from the click of the trigger being pulled. However, they remark that many buyers want laser guns that go "pew pew," so a lot of companies include sound effect-generating noisemakers in their guns, which can be turned off if the user decides.

Energy weapons can be dodged in Rifts, but at a -10 penalty. The explanation given is that the character sees the trigger being pulled, and tries to get out of the way before the shot is fired. A -10 penalty is big enough that player characters almost never bother trying to dodge the blast.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 03:50:00 PM by LunarSage »

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #691 on: March 29, 2013, 04:27:28 PM »
Not necessarily about the autohit.  Some weapons have a charge up time, and if you see the weapon powering up, you can quickly start getting ready to dodge.

We're talking about ranges measured in hundreds or thousands of miles - realistic distances for a fight being conducted in the vacuum of space. Since any sensory input warning you about the weapon powering up will have the weapon discharge arriving right behind it, you'd need to be able to 'dodge' in less time than it takes for them to charge+fire. So it ends up being an effectively guaranteed hit - not always guaranteed, but close enough to make the difference a severe fringe case - similar to how Lunar put it, you basically need to start dodging before the weapon fires, only worse because depending on the range, the 'charge time' involved, and if the weapon even gives any detectable external hint it's preparing to fire, you might need to start dodging before you even know the weapon is getting ready to fire, which has its own cost applied to your maneuverability and/or fuel reserves.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 04:30:58 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Online AndyZ

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #692 on: March 29, 2013, 04:58:00 PM »
Let's say that ships are capable of moving at 99% of c, that two ships are within 1/1000 light second of each other (186 miles if memory serves) and it takes one second for the laser to visibly pulse and charge before firing.  Let's also start a timer at 0 seconds when ship A begins charging weapons.

It will take exactly one second between ship B seeing ship A charging the laser and the laser reaching ship B, the same length as the charge time.  Assuming an instantaneous reaction time by ship B's AI as well as instantaneous acceleration to top speed, B can be 184.14 miles away from its original position at the point when the laser strikes where ship B used to be.

Although neither reaction time nor acceleration to top speed will be instantaneous, ship B only really needs to move the distance of roughly half its size, assuming ship A aims for the center of mass.  If ship B is only 5 miles across, it only needs to move 2.5 miles to get out of the way.

I haven't done calculus in forever, but an acceleration of at least 3 miles per second seems reasonable for a ship which can reach a top speed of 184,140 miles per second.

Ship A would be able to adjust to Ship B's movement, but at a delay thanks to the time taken for the light to pass back and forth between them, the same delay that Ship B deals with when watching Ship A.  I could be wrong on this part, but I think those would cancel each other out.


I'm kinda worn out from work, though, so if I missed or miscalculated something, please point it out.

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #693 on: March 29, 2013, 05:20:08 PM »
Aaaand here we have the primary function of the human pilot.

See, Glyph, in your scenario, we don't need a human crew at all.

But an AI will always aim at where the ship will be given it's current velocity and acceleration, the formulae for calculating these being known and easy to program.

What an AI cannot do is anticipate that the targit might not speed up. See, in order to miss that laser, you don't have to accelerate. You can decelerate too! You can slow down and have it pass harmlessly in front of you. You can move laterally Zenith or Nadir and have it pass "above" or "below" you.

Most fights will take place within star systems.

Orbital mechanics thus apply. Orbital Mechanics are fucking complicated. To slow down, you increase your orbital radius, and to do that you accelerate. To speed up, you decrease your orbital radius, which means breaking! (Please note, this is why I dislike both Star Trek AND Star Wars). Now, an AI will be able to deal with the maths far better than a pilot. However a pilot will be better able to make the decision as to where to go...

Getting back to the remote drones vs AIs vs Pilots argument:

Remote drones become less and less effective the further they are from their mother ship. They therefore are useless as an offensive weapon and can function in a defensive capacity only, as the closer the attackers get, the more effective they become. In this role they are ideal.

Autonomous artificial intelligences with shit-loads of weapons? Seriously?

You really want to give the guns to computers?

The Terminator (1984) HD Intro - YouTube.flv

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #694 on: March 29, 2013, 05:31:07 PM »
In that situation, yes, but those are some pretty corner-case assumptions to set up your scenario. Ships moving at 99% C might make it easy to do the math, but that's going to have incredibly wonky effects on everyone's perception and completely wrecks the energy requirements involved, since for all intents and purposes you are moving at lightspeed, or as close to it as you can get without breaking physics. It seems obvious that when you are moving only 1% slower than the projectile being used to kill you, that does make said projectile of limited utility.  :-)

Additionally, moving that 2.5 miles can be harder depending on if the ship was in motion before the shot was fired, since you'll be adding inertia to compensate for before you can enact a course change, and the closer you are to lightspeed the closer to infinite energy you need to enact that change.

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See, Glyph, in your scenario, we don't need a human crew at all.

But an AI will always aim at where the ship will be given it's current velocity and acceleration, the formulae for calculating these being known and easy to program.

What an AI cannot do is anticipate that the targit might not speed up. See, in order to miss that laser, you don't have to accelerate. You can decelerate too! You can slow down and have it pass harmlessly in front of you. You can move laterally Zenith or Nadir and have it pass "above" or "below" you.

Why not? If slowing down is an option (negative acceleration), can't the AI account for this in its targeting probabilities? It's not aiming where the ship will be, it's aiming where the ship will be most likely to be when the beam arrives, factoring in know values for the target's ability to alter course - it's all intersecting vectors. And aiming where the ship will be given its current velocity and acceleration is a good bet anyways, since unless we're operating at 99% C, the beam and the warning that there is a beam will arrive more or less simultaneously...that human pilot might be a great innovator, but physics is the great de-innovator.

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Most fights will take place within star systems.

Orbital mechanics thus apply. Orbital Mechanics are fucking complicated. To slow down, you increase your orbital radius, and to do that you accelerate. To speed up, you decrease your orbital radius, which means breaking! (Please note, this is why I dislike both Star Trek AND Star Wars). Now, an AI will be able to deal with the maths far better than a pilot. However a pilot will be better able to make the decision as to where to go...

That's my point - it's all math, and hard-crunching numbers is where a computer-driven AI will vastly outstrip the pilot. The pilot doesn't really have much of a choice, the volume of space he can move in to cause the shot to miss will be exactly the same, but the computer will be able to run the calculations faster than him.


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Getting back to the remote drones vs AIs vs Pilots argument:

Remote drones become less and less effective the further they are from their mother ship. They therefore are useless as an offensive weapon and can function in a defensive capacity only, as the closer the attackers get, the more effective they become. In this role they are ideal.

Not necessarily. Drones might be less able to adapt to changing situations, but that puts the onus on information-gathering. The more you know about the situation beforehand, the more you can tell your drones to prepare for and the more accurately you can program their mission loadout. If nothing unexpected happens, their inability to improvise is a non-issue, and their superior stress tolerances/equipment loadout become more advantageous.

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Autonomous artificial intelligences with shit-loads of weapons? Seriously?

You really want to give the guns to computers?

I love Terminator, but it's not entirely a realistic scenario. Giving control of all your weapons to one intelligence with no safety override, sure that's a bad idea, but that's the same as putting all your guns in control of one human, they can go crazy and murder everyone just as easily as a computer can - more easily, in fact, since we currently understand programming better than we do neurology. SkyNet wasn't able to kill everyone because it was a malevolent AI, it was because it was a malevolent AI who was given no safeguards. If the President could singlehandedly launch all our nuclear weapons with a button at his desk, you could get a SkyNet situation today with no computers needed.



EDIT: Also, drones have a big advantage to anything short of a totalitarian state....they're expendable. If your mission goes FUBAR and your entire strike team is wiped out, your CO doesn't have to write two dozen letters to the robot factory.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2013, 05:40:54 PM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline nonniemouse

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #695 on: March 30, 2013, 10:01:09 PM »
As someone who studies artificial intelligence, I can say that solving problems like leading a shot against a moving target is simple mathematics and not even an interesting area of research today.  The same math will allow us to calculate the exact volume of space that the spaceship can possibly occupy by the time a projectile / laser reaches it, given knowledge of its flight characteristics (mass distribution, maximum engine output, etc), which can be dynamically captured on the flight (a possible application of AI technology today, even if a dull one).  AI algorithms can even calculate optimal firing solutions to attempt to deny an enemy from reaching a position to counterattack.  The optimal firing solution will of course be randomized, so it is impossible to "out guess" it.

The reason why we don't have widespread adoption of AIs with guns today is collateral damage, and that features in a ground combat situation are quite a bit more complex than space combat.  With today's technology, it is quite hard for an AI to evaluate whether throwing a grenade into a house is a good idea 'cause it's been fortified and turned into a bunker, or a bad idea 'cause the bad guy just ran into it and there's a laundry line in use in the backyard.

Offline Chrystal

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #696 on: March 31, 2013, 05:41:42 AM »
So...

What we have is, ultimately, a situation where a combination of AI to do the maths and work out the probabilities and firing solutions, etc, and a human conscience to say "Woah, not a good idea to fire at that enemy ship because it is sitting right in front of our civilian research colony on the moon and if we miss we're going to kill all the people we're actually here to protect..."

I have visions of RoboCop here. The robot follows it's programming to the letter, and as Nonniemouse points out, does not assess the situation to see if it's actions are a good thing. A robot cannot tell the difference between good and bad! That is a human function, and human instintcs also come into play. I think it was Star Wars IV (or the first one as those of us in our 40s like to call it) where someone utters the immortal line, "Remember they can jam every instrument except your eyes".

That is another problem with remote drones. There are a limited number of radio frequencies available. All of which can be jammed by a constant white-noise broadcast!

So your drones fly off, and just keep flying because your control signals aren't getting through...

Androids.... Now, if we send out a strong enough EMP, it is going to fry every circuit in their brains. Something humans are not vulnerable to. Of course the AI in the human piloted ship is also vulnerable to EMP but not if it is shut down.

So, Glyph, honey, your robot/drone fighter fleet is dead in space, and my pilot/AI combination fighter fleet has just powered back up and breezes past yours, not even bothering to waste ammo on them, and is now in a position to attack your carrier!

Can you shield your robots against the EMP? Probably, but all that shielding is going to dispose of your weight and volume advantage. My ships have manual controls that don't rely on the AI, so can still be flown, although not as well. And rebooting the AI if it does get EMPed might bring it back on-line. I say might because I don't know but it would be nice if it did.

I'm rather annoyed I didn't think of the EMP earlier in this discussion. The one weapon that electronics are vulnerable to that biologicals are not.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #697 on: March 31, 2013, 09:20:40 AM »

I have visions of RoboCop here. The robot follows it's programming to the letter, and as Nonniemouse points out, does not assess the situation to see if it's actions are a good thing. A robot cannot tell the difference between good and bad! That is a human function, and human instintcs also come into play. I think it was Star Wars IV (or the first one as those of us in our 40s like to call it) where someone utters the immortal line, "Remember they can jam every instrument except your eyes".

When you're in a fight, 'shoot the bad guy' is always  the Good option. There's a lot less opportunity for 'good and bad' in actual combat - like I said previously, the only advantage a human has is the ability to disobey orders, and if your AI's decision tree is complex enough, it doesn't matter that it can't break outside of its programmed options. You do not need to pass the Turing Test to shoot a gun, your 'Artificial Intelligence' can in fact be quite stupid (or more accurately, savant-like) as long as it's good in the one thing it needs to be good at. The circumstances that would lead to an interstellar war in the first place are also those likely to result in a war of extermination...there won't be silly concepts like 'civilians' or 'collateral damage' or 'war crimes', only Them and Us. Killing Them is victory, Them Killing Us is defeat.

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That is another problem with remote drones. There are a limited number of radio frequencies available. All of which can be jammed by a constant white-noise broadcast!

So your drones fly off, and just keep flying because your control signals aren't getting through...
What  control signals? You already established that the drones are limited to lightspeed, and so they can't have human input directing them as that would make them too sluggish to operate. Since we're operating these in an offensive situation, the drones are going to be loaded with their programming before they launch, which would include a 'If cut off via jamming', follow these parameters' routine...we can stick this on modern-day Predator drones, a space fighter is not going to be left helpless by a little white noise. You can't cut the drone off from what it doesn't need to operate. And for all that a human can fly by eye, the Mark One Eyeball is a really awful tool at the speeds and distances we've been assuming as constant through this debate.

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Androids.... Now, if we send out a strong enough EMP, it is going to fry every circuit in their brains. Something humans are not vulnerable to. Of course the AI in the human piloted ship is also vulnerable to EMP but not if it is shut down.

So, Glyph, honey, your robot/drone fighter fleet is dead in space, and my pilot/AI combination fighter fleet has just powered back up and breezes past yours, not even bothering to waste ammo on them, and is now in a position to attack your carrier!
So why can your bio-hybrid fighters power down, fire their blast, and power up again, but my drones can't detect you powering down and power down themselves to let the EMP wash over them harmlessly before reactivating and continuing to devastate the poor organic shlubs with their superior weaponry, maneuverability, speed, and armor?

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Can you shield your robots against the EMP? Probably, but all that shielding is going to dispose of your weight and volume advantage. My ships have manual controls that don't rely on the AI, so can still be flown, although not as well. And rebooting the AI if it does get EMPed might bring it back on-line. I say might because I don't know but it would be nice if it did.

I'm rather annoyed I didn't think of the EMP earlier in this discussion. The one weapon that electronics are vulnerable to that biologicals are not.
Seriously? EMP hardening is a trivial affair, we've already figured it out with our current technology - it just involves different construction materials, or incorporating a Faraday cage into the outer hull. For that matter, If you're building anything in space at all, you're already being bombarded by tons of constant background radiation. EMP pulses are going to be worse than useless in a stellar combat situation, since the very nature of the environment requires significant advances in the field anyways.

But heck, let's say you somehow manage to build a Better EMP. All you've designed is a short-range burst weapon with exactly the same end-result properties as a weak laser - Speed-of-Light attack speed, and trading damage for a short omnidirectional burst, affected by range due to dispersion. Except you don't have to shut down your own ships to fire the laser, and the defensive measures will be the same - moving to evade or powering down after the incoming attack is detected (your opponent powering down all their electronics is a pretty bit IMMA FIRING MY LAZOR hint) and before the shockwave can reach - a computer will be better and determining the precise speed of propagation of the pulse, and be able to power up its systems immediately after it hits.

And frankly, I'll trade 1 weapon electronics are vulnerable to for the dozens that biologics are vulnerable to. That tonnage you've allocated to an EMP burst device, I'll slap on a directed neutron burst projector and cook your delicate organic meat-sack right through the hull and armor. Or, you know, bigger lasers and just shred your biofighters the conventional way. Or carry the same weapons as you, minus your big bulky EMP generator and the gooey chewy center of your delicious Organic Fighter Pop, and fit two or three times as many drone fighters into the same carrier tonnage.



And for that matter, that's another advantage of a mechanical-based fleet...replacement time. It takes time to gestate and grow new organic pilots, and more time to train them, in addition to building their hardware. Even with mass cloning tanks (and if you've got those, are you really any different for using drones made of meat instead of metal?), cloned organisms still grow at the same rate as normal ones. Comparatively, the drone factories will be able to pump out fully operational ships as fast as the machinery will allow them.
« Last Edit: March 31, 2013, 09:38:17 AM by TheGlyphstone »

Offline alxnjshTopic starter

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #698 on: April 07, 2013, 08:32:26 PM »
*brushes off the stools once again*

Lounge is kinda quiet lately. Are GMs busy?

How about a topic...anyone ever played the game Magic the Gathering? I was a closet MtG player in high school, but haven't played for probably 15 years. I still have all my cards and saw a pack recently in a Target.

Online TheGlyphstone

Re: GM Lounge - Bartenders Answer All Your Questions
« Reply #699 on: April 07, 2013, 08:43:11 PM »
Last time I played MTG was back in the Shadowmoor block. I had a great casual B/W deck based around stacking multiple lifelinks per attack, but they made that impossible in M10.