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Is making gravity an element in a science fiction game too hardcore to be playable? One very immersive factor in science fiction adventure stories is gravity. Adventurers deal with the challenge of high acceleration, crushing planets, and zero-G adaptation among different races. I'm wondering how well this factor would translate if you were running your own ship, exploring environments and dealing with traveling the cosmos. Basics The races in the game world rely on either widespread Galactic technology or their own native tech for their hulls. In terms of Galactic technology, billions of years old, gravity is artificial and can even conform to the shell of a given character (read: not a factor). With native tech like that of the various Terran empires, gravity is generated either by rotating segments or a limited form of artificial gravity. Galactic tech is obviously more expensive, while native tech is (in accordance with the storyline and post-apocalyptic environment) more widespread. Here are some gameplay effects and possible challenges: Maps Reconfigured When a native tech ship thrusts, gravity is along the axis of acceleration. This means that walls become floors and ceilings while some cooridoors become drop shafts (down is now sideways). If you had to manuever through the ship while it is thrusting this would change the spatial layout of the ship, potentially becoming very disorienting. Weakening Under High/Low Gravity Native tech ships would coast between thrusting to save fuel. The ship would switch to rotating or using its gravity ducts for the health and comfort of the crew, to perform maintenence more efficiently and to complete certain projects, usually science based. Among civilian passengers and less hardy spacers, lack of gravity would drain morale, which ultimately affects the ship as a business (if taking passengers) and crew retention / obedience. Over weeks, lack of gravity would lower health and stats among all crew. (Long distance trips will be made with time acceleration, btw, depending on the tech level, so this is abstract). As a tradeoff, onboard space could be given over to recreational facilities which fight the effects of low gravity on the heart and other muscle tissues. Under high gravity (such as hard acceleration to make a deadline), crew would tire more quickly. Less labor would get done onboard, accidents would be more devasting, security personnel would be less ready for combat and more instances of fighting might arise. Maximum Thrust and Manuevering This also would mean that ships can only thrust at the gravity tolerable to their weakest crew members. So low-G crew could only tolerate a few multiples of their maximum gravity before blacking out or even dying. (This limit would appear on the interface). This factor then would affect hiring, and better candidates would be more likely to have bionics or cyber enhancements to help them deal with gravity. You could upgrade to equipment to help deal with gravity. Equipment would range from more expensive flight suits (with compression and circulatory stimulation) to fortifying drugs to gravity tanks and gravity stations of compressed fluids. Terrans ships would have an option of two types of reverse-engineered Galactic tech in the form of gravity ducts and gravplates. Ducts would modify gravity in section of the hull (generating a field) but wear down over time and need replacing; plates would require lots of energy per section Tactical Vulnerabilities When thrusting, all crew would respond to an automatic yellow alert and secure themselves and convert the interior. The time this takes would depend on their level of discipline and training. Ships with rotating sections would have to stop rotating to thrust. This time delay would depend on the quality level of the equipment. Both of these states would be represented in the interface as a flashing status effect near/over the acceleration controls. If you chose to accelerate, you'd get a query along the lines of "All stations have not yet reported secure, sir. If we thrust now we may experience __________ effects. Proceed anyway?" The effects might be damaged equipment and/or crew casualties, but would decrease with crew skill (as more experienced crew would learn to grab onto anything). If time critical repairs or emergency surgery were being performed and you wanted to accelerate, the you would have to delay or risk damaging the endeavor (losing equipment or a patient). If a ship's rotating section were hit and disabled, over weeks it would create problems with morale and health. Boarding Defense When boarding an enemy ship or repelling boarders, acceration and reconfiguration of gravity could be a weapon. An accelerating ship could, if all crew were secure, hard accelerate to trap or injure boarders (using the same system as unsecured crew, modified by the equipment being used to board). Gravity could also be cycled (in terms of plates) higher or lower, provided you were in control of the command deck. If you were boarding a ship, you'd either need to be sure the engine was disabled without destroying the ship, or have jet-pack assisted power armor, preferrably with phase-bonding climbing claws. Spinning, Disorientation, Personal Combat, Getting Stuck Under zero-G there are several personal interaction problems: the potential to become disoriented because of physics-based interactions is high. You could jump into a room and hit the opposite wall too hard, or drift at an annoyingly slow pace, possibly even getting stuck in the middle of the room. And in combat, you could be hit and as a result go spinning. For the sake of playability, then, in this case gravity will only be "psuedo-gravity." You can never be sent spinning although you can spin others or have your allies spun if hit. Walls "magnetize" all personnel, causing them to slowly drift toward any wall in zero-G. And while you can still glance off another object, any object you face you "grip" automatically, preventing you from ping-ponging around a room. Obviously, gravity offers some intriguing possibilities in terms of tradeoffs. For a science fiction game, it would almost seem to be required. But since it is so counter-intuitive, it may not be worth it. Thoughts?

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Original post by Wavinator
Is making gravity an element in a science fiction game too hardcore to be playable?

For what i read in your post, gravity will impose lots of limits for "low-level" (e.g. in the first hours of the game) players. When the crew is less experienced, they (and also any passenger) will suffer from almost any extreme decision (save fuel, acceleration for the deadline, long travels, sudden acceleration). Maybe this will be OK if you want to use gravity as an indicator of the evolution of your players, but you should balance what low-level players can do. I think... Gravity can be OK if you use it as an element of decision for your players - if (for example) I use more money in increasing the possible cargo of the ship, I'll be more vulnerable against moments of crisis when i have to make extreme maneuvers ("Captain, the pirates are very near, we must accelerate now!" ("Damn, now is when we will miss the gravity stabilizers...")). About boarding and personal combat, depends on how you will design the actual combat.

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When a native tech ship thrusts, gravity is along the axis of acceleration. This means that walls become floors and ceilings while some cooridoors become drop shafts (down is now sideways). If you had to manuever through the ship while it is thrusting this would change the spatial layout of the ship, potentially becoming very disorienting.


I think that if this were a problem, wouldn't ships simply be built to accomodate? By that, I mean, why build the ships as if gravity were "down" (as if it were a ship on a planet) and then suddenly shift so that everyone is pulled "sideways" whenever the ship accelerates?

Just build the ships decks already sideways. That way, when the ship is accelerating, the decks and doors seem normal, and when the ship is not accelerating and there is zero gravity, it doesn't matter which way it's built anyway. There's no reason at all to force the ship to "change" depending on whether it's standing still or moving.

The only time I can visualize it changing is if the ship fired it's engines or jets to move straight "up" or "down" or strafe "left" and "right."

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Original post by Taolung
I think that if this were a problem, wouldn't ships simply be built to accomodate? By that, I mean, why build the ships as if gravity were "down" (as if it were a ship on a planet) and then suddenly shift so that everyone is pulled "sideways" whenever the ship accelerates?

Just build the ships decks already sideways. That way, when the ship is accelerating, the decks and doors seem normal, and when the ship is not accelerating and there is zero gravity, it doesn't matter which way it's built anyway. There's no reason at all to force the ship to "change" depending on whether it's standing still or moving.

The only time I can visualize it changing is if the ship fired it's engines or jets to move straight "up" or "down" or strafe "left" and "right."


Don't forget decceleration - it's all very well designing your ships around thrust in one direction, but you're also going to need to reverse that thrust at some point, and you don't really want your entire crew to suddenly fall onto the ceiling.

Of course, you could simply rotate your ship around so it's pointing the other direction before accelerating, so you're always accelerating along the same axis. This would be good for smallish ships, (it would also save you needing an extra bunch of engines on the front of the ship for decceleration) but for a very big unmanouverable ship this could be a bit of a pain in the arse. Another alternative would be to build the occupied areas of the ship as a series of rotating compartments, that can rotate automatically to align themselves with the axis of thrust. Of course, you'd probably still end up with some parts of the ship in inertial no-mans-land, but that would certainly fix the problem - at the cost of requiring extra infrastructure.

[Edited by - Sandman on September 13, 2004 1:07:54 PM]

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A quick brainstorm:

* I'd say that rotating any ship in the opposite direction would be much more effective than adding reverse thrusters. You'd save a lot more mass that way. The only problem might be if the ship's got a rotating section as it will resist that change (think spinning top etc.).

* In the same way, you wouldn't need to stop the rotating section to thrust, only if you needed to change orientation.

* In any case, if a ship was built where the apparent direction of gravity changes for whatever reason, the insides of the ship would take that into account. For example, if the ship will mainly accelerate and decelerate, then floors and ceilings must be interchangable. Walls too, maybe. Some features might have to appear on both the floor and the ceiling (e.g. stoves in the galley, and what about toilets?) which might be another reason to limit that sort of thing as much as possible.

* If a ship were to change direction the change might be imperceptable near the centre of the craft (well, you'd turn, but air resistance in the ship might make you turn with it, making it less pronounced), but might manifest itself as a force several times that of Earth gravity further out.

* If you can create a force that can simulate gravity, you can also use that force to cushion against unwanted gravitational effects.

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I wouldn't expect ships to have walls become floors, or anything like that during acceleration. If these are used at all during acceleration, then the ship would be built along that axis.
Another, more likely situation would be that the crew just don't move around much during acceleration/deceleration. Either they're at their assigned posts, or they're in one of the areas with artificial gravity. The routes between these areas probably wouldn't have actual "floors, walls and ceilings" anyway. They'd either be elevators or a kind of corridors with stairs or handholds on every "wall". In those areas, there just wouldn't be one single side that's made to be floor. And they wouldn't be used much during acceleration/deceleration. Maybe during crew shift change, or in emergencies/special events. Normally, people would stay in one place, or in the gravity areas.

During normal flight, I dont think gravity should have any effects. (other than limiting your max acceleration because there's a limit to how much gravity the crew can handle).

On a spaceship, I'd expect the crew to be prepared for these things. They'd make sure to be securely strapped in during acceleration/deceleration, so I don't think it would be a problem. (Maybe you could allow the player to increase acceleration beyond what your crew can safely handle, for use during emergencies. But under normal operation, the crew should be safe, with no ill effects, because that's basically their job. If they have to accelerate fast and for an extended period, then they'd have some couches to dampen the effects, or use some kind of exoskeletons for support or whatever. In short, they would never, under normal non-emergency operation, accelerate so much that it becomes harmful for them.

I think the bigger problem is what to do when the ship is just coasting to save fuel. Then having no gravity would probably be a likely option. To compensate for this, I'd expect them to have the crew quarters provide some kind of artificial gravity. When working, they might have to go into the gravity-less areas of the ship (engines, generator, cockpit, gun turrets or various other components), but again, they would implement measures to keep them safe, and they wouldn't be there all day. I'd say that's a given for any starfaring culture. They won't begin using spaceships on a large scale until they've figured out how to keep the crew in decent health.

So I think that during normal flight, it shouldn't be an issue at all. The crew is safe if the ship has the most basic systems in place. (Maybe you can get a cheap junk-pile that can't provide artifical gravity at all during coasting, not even in the crew quarters)

It could still influence the following though:
- Some engines might rely on very short bursts of high acceleration (like chemical rockets). This would force the crew to spend much more time coasting, and so could increase the chance accidents related to the lack of gravity. (Not sure if this is a good idea, considering I just said coasting shouldn't influence the crew. Maybe certain engines just have a special "burst" property, which lets them accelerate better, but also eats much more fuel, and, because it'll require more coasting time, will also create a chance that some no-gravity related accident/event happens. So it's not something gradual, but a binary property an engine either has or doesn't have. Because I dont think it should be a problem at all for normal engines.)

- During battle/boarding. As you said, bursts of acceleration/deceleration can be an effective weapon to fight boarding parties.

- If the ship's artificial gravity mechanisms have been damaged, the entire ship will have no gravity until it's fixed.

- If other parts of the ship has been damaged, it might be neccesary to shut down the artificial gravity mechanisms before it's possible for the crew to repair the damage.

- In an emergency, you might need a boost with some really extreme acceleration, which would influence the crew

Basically though, I think it should be kept as special states that only applies some times. During normal flight, it shouldn't be an issue at all, but when one of the above situations occur, you might enter the high- or low gravity state, with all the penalties and chances of accidents that follow.

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I once read a "hardcore" sci-fi book where the story happened on a high gravity planet. The writer (scientist of some sort) told in the book, that he did not have any artificial gravity machinery, as it would have caused troubles that are usually ignored.

At least he mentioned that the difference of potential energy between the areas of normal gravity and artificial gravity would prevent a object to move from one environment to another.

I guess that it meant that the space warping nature of gravity would make impossible to have sudden changes in gravity. Think about water making walls on the sea. (Okay, this is not the best analogy but you get the point. I hope.)

The changes of gravity (even gradual, if on a short distance) would also stress a lot any structure, so a ship with any sort of arti-grav - regular grav -mix would be, well, if not impossible, then at least impractical.

But finally, yes, i would enjoy if a space game had some gravity-related content. And in a game it does not have to be so exact, as long as it follows its own rules, thus not breaking the suspension of disbelief.

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Original post by rrc2soft
For what i read in your post, gravity will impose lots of limits for "low-level" (e.g. in the first hours of the game) players. When the crew is less experienced, they (and also any passenger) will suffer from almost any extreme decision (save fuel, acceleration for the deadline, long travels, sudden acceleration). Maybe this will be OK if you want to use gravity as an indicator of the evolution of your players, but you should balance what low-level players can do. I think... Gravity can be OK if you use it as an element of decision for your players - if (for example) I use more money in increasing the possible cargo of the ship, I'll be more vulnerable against moments of crisis when i have to make extreme maneuvers ("Captain, the pirates are very near, we must accelerate now!" ("Damn, now is when we will miss the gravity stabilizers...")).


I like the idea of keeping this constant more so than just an indicator of level. Toward that end, maybe I'll make the cost of getting rid of zero-G or high-G increasingly exhorbitant so that it delivers diminishing returns.

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About boarding and personal combat, depends on how you will design the actual combat.


Thinking 3rd person if you choose to board, otherwise it's abstract 'over the comms' reports. Not sure if I can squeeze in any really significant player micromanagment of the battle outside of the section you're in at this point. So you'd be 3rd person, fighting directly with your character, taking cover, setting priorities and objectives for your crew, then getting back up and pressing the attack.

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I just remembered, that gravity also affects time. Tought, that it would be worth mentioning, too. Think about spaceship, where different parts have different speed of time. The differences are minimal in real life, but they are there.

Differences could possibly build up when traveling at relativistic speeds? Could cause some interesting situations:
"Sir, our time coherency protection went doooooooooowwwwnnnn..." :)

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Original post by Taolung
I think that if this were a problem, wouldn't ships simply be built to accomodate? By that, I mean, why build the ships as if gravity were "down" (as if it were a ship on a planet) and then suddenly shift so that everyone is pulled "sideways" whenever the ship accelerates?


You may be right. However, logically, there are some cases where I can see a common "long and flat" design being more practical:

1) The vehicle is designed to spend extended periods in a gravity well, such as hopping between cities, belly-landing to carry cargo or otherwise operating for extended periods aerodynamically in atmosphere

2) Load bearing may be easier with a vessel that's aligned on a column above the source of acceleration as opposed to arrayed around it. Think about it like picking a pancake up with a ball point pen versus the structure of the ball point pen itself. If you want a bigger ship and you expand outward, it's going to put more force against a smaller surface area of the ship. Also, th more massive the vessel, the more a tail landing scheme will cause similar problems, not to mention creating a towering structure that is vulnerable to wind.

3) Tactical vulnerability: When a ship accelerates toward or away from an aggressor, having a thin and long structure would be preferable to the wide structure, especially in terms of area of effect weapons.

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Original post by Sandman
Don't forget decceleration - it's all very well designing your ships around thrust in one direction, but you're also going to need to reverse that thrust at some point, and you don't really want your entire crew to suddenly fall onto the ceiling.

Of course, you could simply rotate your ship around so it's pointing the other direction before accelerating, so you're always accelerating along the same axis. This would be good for smallish ships, (it would also save you needing an extra bunch of engines on the front of the ship for decceleration) but for a very big unmanouverable ship this could be a bit of a pain in the arse. Another alternative would be to build the occupied areas of the ship as a series of rotating compartments, that can rotate automatically to align themselves with the axis of thrust. Of course, you'd probably still end up with some parts of the ship in inertial no-mans-land, but that would certainly fix the problem - at the cost of requiring extra infrastructure.


Yeah, my thought was that native ships generally reverse course and applied steady thrust to decelerate, whereas Galactic ships simply drifted to a stop. This would make the Terran vessels more gritty, sort of like in Babylon 5.

I like the idea of rotating interiors. This poses and interesting structural problem, though. Since you'll be worried about configuring the interior of your ship, the tradeoff would be that "gymballed interiors" would necessarily be smaller and proportionally shaped. So they might not work for certain sections, such as engineering where the reactor lives.

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Original post by teamonkey
* I'd say that rotating any ship in the opposite direction would be much more effective than adding reverse thrusters. You'd save a lot more mass that way. The only problem might be if the ship's got a rotating section as it will resist that change (think spinning top etc.).


Yes, or spinning bicycle wheel. I thought this could be represented quite simply by making a delay between when the section(s) stopped rotating and when you could start manuevering.

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* In the same way, you wouldn't need to stop the rotating section to thrust, only if you needed to change orientation.


The only excuse here would be stress on the rotational assembly. It's designed, say, to get up to 1 G in a particularly direction, perhaps using maglev rails. Putting 8Gs on it laterally then would be a very bad idea, and hence it would need to be secured or would be damaged.

This may be FAR too anal. But my suspicion is that adding things like this actually makes the world come alive, because it imposes quirky limits that flesh out the world. (It's like commonly used "mages can't wear knight's armor" rules that technically don't make sense but give the world more gravitas).

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* In any case, if a ship was built where the apparent direction of gravity changes for whatever reason, the insides of the ship would take that into account. For example, if the ship will mainly accelerate and decelerate, then floors and ceilings must be interchangable. Walls too, maybe. Some features might have to appear on both the floor and the ceiling (e.g. stoves in the galley, and what about toilets?) which might be another reason to limit that sort of thing as much as possible.


The core ships in the game, the highrunners (think Millenium Falcon or Cowboy Beebop) have to land on planets, accelerate and decelerate as well as manuever aggressively in combat. Most are belly landers in order to distribute the weight of the ship.

This means that the average ship has between 2 and 3 directions, not including aggressive thrust (in which case everything is secured).

To handle both belly landing and constant, long term acceleration, I see a kind of laddered design: Tables in a galley, for instance, would come connected to the floor, and the floor, table and chairs would be suspended as one piece between two pillars. Stations and things like beds or toilets would actually be boxed pods capable of also rotating while mounted to the wall (though you wouldn't want to be using them while the ship was hard accelerating or jinking [grin])


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* If a ship were to change direction the change might be imperceptable near the centre of the craft (well, you'd turn, but air resistance in the ship might make you turn with it, making it less pronounced), but might manifest itself as a force several times that of Earth gravity further out.


Yes. I'm thinking that this, along with defensive reasons, might be why sensitive equipment and the ship's bridge would be in the center of most ships. (Who needs windows when you have viewscreens).

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* If you can create a force that can simulate gravity, you can also use that force to cushion against unwanted gravitational effects.


Agreed. I'm cheating here a bit because a central feature of surviving a crash landing are crashwebs, which generate brief inertial field at the moment of impact (crashlanding may be a side effect of high-G FTL manuvering / racing around planets).

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Gravity should not be a battle consideration unless it is very graphical and easy to understand. For instance:

Quote:
Quote from logs of Frigate Philly:
We was flying along mindin' ow own bidness. Sumbody just came up an' shot our ass. We wasn't doin nuttin' either.

As soon as the ship takes damage it is thrown into red alert (this can also be switched manually). Since the Frigate Philly can be easily be broken into 3 main areas (bridge, cargo and engineering) three progress bars show up. These bars represent everything from people getting to stations, to cargo being latched down, to the mess hall putting lids on the pots. These progress bars should move at different rates (the mess hall might take longer than the bridge). This would be a great area for stat modification. Once all of the progress bars are completed you can turn without harm to your ship. HOwever, thats too easy.

Lets say this happened next:
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Frigate Philly logs
So I looked at who was doin da shootin, and wouldn't cha know it, there was a big ol' Caddy 'bout ta hit me. So I jumped outa da way like anybody else, even wid my broken hip.

Now, there is going to be the circumstance where you need to turn before the ship is prepared. This is the beauty of the progress bars. At a glance you can tell what is going to be injured and roughly by how much. You make a turn and the remaining portions take a percentage (perhaps chance) of damage. After a brief pause the bars will continue to rise until completed or the ship is accelerated in some other way. The pause would be another area for stat change. Experienced crews would recover quicker.

As a note: Straightline flying is no fun. I don't play driving games to go down a straight road. If every turn or acceleration is going to have these ramifications, there should be something else to work on while the ship is going straight. Perhaps crew disputes or design plans or nebula analysis or raiding the cargo for the enclosed wine. Whatever. The only flying I want to do is going to be stuff involving some kind of acceleration.

I thought of something else but I just lost my train of thought. Maybe more will come later.

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Original post by Spoonster
...
I'd say that's a given for any starfaring culture. They won't begin using spaceships on a large scale until they've figured out how to keep the crew in decent health.


Good observations, but I have to point out: The environment is post-apocalyptic, so the species in the galaxy are climbing back up the tech ladder. With this premise, it's possible that races are rediscovering starflight using a haphazard mix of old and new.

Does it make a difference to you if there's a good reason to have gravity, storywise? I know this is a factor of suspension of disbelief for many. I can overcome that angle, but the question of the counter-intuitive nature of gravity then comes up. Will you understand why you're being affected by these things (my guess is yes); then, will you have fun dealing with the different tradeoffs (rotating sections cost X but give you Y with Z drawback; whereas hiring crewman from low-G asteroid colonies will cost X but... etc.)

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- Some engines might rely on very short bursts of high acceleration (like chemical rockets). This would force the crew to spend much more time coasting, and so could increase the chance accidents related to the lack of gravity. (Not sure if this is a good idea, considering I just said coasting shouldn't influence the crew. Maybe certain engines just have a special "burst" property, which lets them accelerate better, but also eats much more fuel, and, because it'll require more coasting time, will also create a chance that some no-gravity related accident/event happens. So it's not something gradual, but a binary property an engine either has or doesn't have. Because I dont think it should be a problem at all for normal engines.)


I'll have to weigh the tradeoffs here. I do like the idea of different engines having different consequences. It makes upgrading, one of the most fun activities in an RPG, very in depth.

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- If the ship's artificial gravity mechanisms have been damaged, the entire ship will have no gravity until it's fixed.


This could also have a tradeoff. What if you decide not to train your crew in zero-G operations (given that some planets have higher tech and maybe use artifical or Galactic tech) and then a saboteur strikes? Your people will be less effective and defending and repairing the ship, even though you saved thousands in training.

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- If other parts of the ship has been damaged, it might be neccesary to shut down the artificial gravity mechanisms before it's possible for the crew to repair the damage.


Nice tradeoff.

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Basically though, I think it should be kept as special states that only applies some times. During normal flight, it shouldn't be an issue at all, but when one of the above situations occur, you might enter the high- or low gravity state, with all the penalties and chances of accidents that follow.


And just to clarify, is this because of the potential management headache or because of story / worldbuilding expectations of how the universe should work. The latter I can handle with plausible reasoning, but the former is the greater concern.

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Original post by Ubik
I once read a "hardcore" sci-fi book where the story happened on a high gravity planet. The writer (scientist of some sort) told in the book, that he did not have any artificial gravity machinery, as it would have caused troubles that are usually ignored.


Wouldn't happen to be Hal Clement, would it? He's a master of this stuff.

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At least he mentioned that the difference of potential energy between the areas of normal gravity and artificial gravity would prevent a object to move from one environment to another.


Hmmmm... Interesting, I didn't know about this. So getting an object across would be energy intensive. It might be an intersting story background reason for why Galactic and native technology can't be blended.

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I guess that it meant that the space warping nature of gravity would make impossible to have sudden changes in gravity. Think about water making walls on the sea. (Okay, this is not the best analogy but you get the point. I hope.)


Yes, although I'd imagine that the you might have a gradual "hill" to climb when entering artificial gravity if it were stepped gently enough. Even gravity on the earth is not constant everywhere.

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The changes of gravity (even gradual, if on a short distance) would also stress a lot any structure, so a ship with any sort of arti-grav - regular grav -mix would be, well, if not impossible, then at least impractical.


Another good excuse for not mixing the two.

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But finally, yes, i would enjoy if a space game had some gravity-related content. And in a game it does not have to be so exact, as long as it follows its own rules, thus not breaking the suspension of disbelief.


Glad to hear it!

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Original post by Wavinator
Wouldn't happen to be Hal Clement, would it? He's a master of this stuff.


Yes, Hal Clement and Mission of gravity, I should have checked that before posting. Lazy me. :)

Robert L. Forward's Dragon's egg has some interesting gravity related stuff too, might be worth checking if you are not familiar to it. It also has very interesting and very well descripted aliens. But that's already off-topic.

When talking about forces, inertia comes to play. Perhaps ships based on Galactic tech could use the artificial gravity to make the ships highly maneuverable and passengers would not suffer from any incomfortabilities. Gravity would simply pull to another direction than the force from acceleration.

The gravity producing mechanism also offers a good chance for balancing. Gravity mechanism would produce a gravity field representing some mass (one earth for one G), or alternatively it could be something like ships mass * G. Bigger gravity requires more energy, so producing full gravity for a big ship would mean that there is not that much energy to absorb the inertia forces, making the big ships less maneuverable.

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Original post by Wavinator
Thinking 3rd person if you choose to board, otherwise it's abstract 'over the comms' reports. Not sure if I can squeeze in any really significant player micromanagment of the battle outside of the section you're in at this point. So you'd be 3rd person, fighting directly with your character, taking cover, setting priorities and objectives for your crew, then getting back up and pressing the attack.


It could be very cool, since the gravity conditions inside ships will be different depending on their actual state, enabling different styles of gameplay for just one type of action sequence. Moreover, those gravity conditions will be direct consequence of the player's actions before boarding the ship, giving the player a feeling of "i did this..." [smile].

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In my opinion the simplest thing would be to let inertial dampeners and artificial gravity be common tech. If I remember correctly from other posts your're going to have a graphical representation of the ships and environment (was it 1st or 3rd person? doesn't matter). If things have to be designed so that everything can be used in zero g and during acceleration etc I'm afraid that the ships won't look anything like a combat vessel (and would be extremely hard to crate). "Flattish" (wider and longer than high) ships capable of belly landing would probably be designed to have the "front" on the "top" - the engines would be placed on the underside. I'm gussing they're pretty bulky, so ships can't be very low. Radiation is also a factor - the engines should be placed as far away from the "command deck" (and living quarters) as possible in case of readiation leak. The "traditional" sci-fi ships with the engines in one end and "cockpit" in the other is more sensible in that regard. With no inertial dampeners and artificial-g such a ship would have to be built dual purpose for belly landing. Triple purpose with coasting.

Definitions:
Inertial dampeners (ID) remove the effect of acceleration of the ship for the people inside. This means that even if the ship is accelerating they feel like the ships velocity is constant.
Artificial gravity (AG) pulls them to the floor (or pushes them if you're using push gravity. It doesn't matter except where to put the AG generators [smile]). The AG devices should be [a] plate(s) that covers the area that needs AG (floorplates in habitable areas - hence ST:Enterprises name for them - floorplates).

ID and AG may produce energy signatures that's detectable by other ships. A sound tactic in stealth missions can be to turn off the devices. Ships designed to be very stealthy could be made completely without these devices.

AG might also be used to create propulsion in some exotic engines, but that's beyond the scope of the topic.

Suggestions:

Don't make this scientifically correct. Stresses between AG and natural gravity should be disregarded (even making it so that it feels you're walking up a hill when you cross the transition is impossible to do graphically.)

Let all ships have intertial dampening and AG, but give it a bit of a size so that people won't ask for anti-g suits or guns or things like that.

Not everything needs to have AG. Cargo holds and the like doesn't need them. Perhaps they should have ID to avoid destroying the cargo during acceleration. Perhaps the two technologies could be linked.

I assume the "playing field" is going to be huge (interstellar). If travel between stars is sub-C you'll have to deal with relativistics. If you're using wormhole, hyperspace, etc. you're already using at least as exotic technology as AG. I can't see why you shouldn't allow AG but allow "shortcuts". If you're using Super-C speeds you need huge acceleration and ID would make this tolerable for the people inside.

Inertial dampening and combat: As stated, ID removes effect of outside acceleration from the inside of the ship. ID may be controlled by a computer and while it's capable of correcting the steady acceleration of the ship (after all it gets information from the helm), shock effects by explosions will still cause things inside to be bounced around. If the ID device is in disrepair, damaged or destroyed the effects will be worse. Effects wary from a light shaking from an explosion to being thrown across the room to not being able to dampen engine acceleration (pulled toward the engine during acceleration).

Fighters: If you're using manned fighters you have to have ID. A normal human can survive 12Gs for a few seconds, but a missile can sustain heavy Gs without any problem (my cellular phone survives 200G - I would have been crushed). ID in fighters can remove for example 95% of pulling Gs, making it able to be much more manouverable. AG may not be needed.
The alternative is to only use missiles and drones. Or robot pilots [smile].

Artificial G and combat: If AG is knocked out or turned off things inside become weightless (assuming ID works). If you really want to have zero-g fighting inside the spaceships you can let the AG devices be very suspectible to energy fluctuations etc.
AG can sometimes also be used as a weapon. If you mount gravity plating in the roof as well as in the floor you can pummel intruders by swithcing the direction of the gravity. It might also be possible to increase the gravity to above normal, either crushing them (but then you'd probably do damage to the ship as well), or letting them feel what an insect feels when it's put in a jar and shaken. Everything not secured will also be thrown about though.

You could give your soldiers extensive Zero-G training so that if the ship is invaded they'll have an edge during combat by turning off AG. If they have no training and the AG is disrupted they'll flap about like the frogs they sent to the ISS recently. It wasn't pretty.


And finally, in Zero-G combat, remember - The enemy's gate is down.

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This also would mean that ships can only thrust at the gravity tolerable to their weakest crew members. So low-G crew could only tolerate a few multiples of their maximum gravity before blacking out or even dying.


Just a though, I remember seeing a movie quite a while agao (Abyss I think) where a divers suit was filled with a bretable liquid so the diver could withstand more presser and go deeper. Don't know the science behind it (if there actually was any), but if it is sound....

- Insted of gravity you have a liquid filled ship. The crew get around by swiming (exercize) and are slightly less affected by suddon gravity shifts.

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When a native tech ship thrusts, gravity is along the axis of acceleration. This means that walls become floors and ceilings while some cooridoors become drop shafts (down is now sideways).


I picture a ship with curving tubes for hallways and sphears or elliptoids for rooms. Crew would be trained to roll down tubes if they weren't strapped in. Equipment would be on tracks or "roll" with the gravity.

Also I would see ALL equipment having velcro, magnets or some other way of automaticly clinging to the wall, otherwise being in the galley when when gravity changes would be a big hazerd with all the kinves and all flying around.

I am assuming that the acceleration would not be the smoothest process so you would wind up with someone having to get their "space legs" simalar to what sailors do. Of course this is probabbly too much detatil for you game.

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Walls "magnetize" all personnel, causing them to slowly drift toward any wall in zero-G.

Very good idea.

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Original post by Wavinator
Good observations, but I have to point out: The environment is post-apocalyptic, so the species in the galaxy are climbing back up the tech ladder. With this premise, it's possible that races are rediscovering starflight using a haphazard mix of old and new.

Good point, but still, would they jump back into their old crumbling spaceships if they knew their muscles would be reduced to jelly by the time they reached their destination? It might be postapocalyptic, but they're still so much in control of their tech that they feel comfortable about spaceflight.

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And just to clarify, is this because of the potential management headache or because of story / worldbuilding expectations of how the universe should work. The latter I can handle with plausible reasoning, but the former is the greater concern.

Basically, to keep it simple for the player. I agree, the latter is simple enough to work around, but I think it would become too much of a headache for the player, if he constantly have to monitor the exact amount of gravity on the ship, and keep track of which effects it has on his crew. I'd prefer to know that normally, there are no ill effect, as the crew is operating (mainly) under normal gravity, and then occasionally, I'll get into the other situations where there might be high or no gravity, and then I'll have to deal with that.

I think this whole gravity thing opens up for a lot of interesting aspects, just don't overburden the player with the micromanagement. I'd say that normally, the crew can take care of themselves. They know how to handle gravity (or lack thereof) on a spaceship. The ship will have the neccesary facilities for this as well.

Gravity should only be an issue in special events. (During battles/boarding, if a ship is damaged and/or being repaired, during emergency acceleration, or similar)

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You may be right. However, logically, there are some cases where I can see a common "long and flat" design being more practical:

1) The vehicle is designed to spend extended periods in a gravity well, such as hopping between cities, belly-landing to carry cargo or otherwise operating for extended periods aerodynamically in atmosphere

2) Load bearing may be easier with a vessel that's aligned on a column above the source of acceleration as opposed to arrayed around it. Think about it like picking a pancake up with a ball point pen versus the structure of the ball point pen itself. If you want a bigger ship and you expand outward, it's going to put more force against a smaller surface area of the ship. Also, th more massive the vessel, the more a tail landing scheme will cause similar problems, not to mention creating a towering structure that is vulnerable to wind.

3) Tactical vulnerability: When a ship accelerates toward or away from an aggressor, having a thin and long structure would be preferable to the wide structure, especially in terms of area of effect weapons.


Hmm, I think you've confused me. :)

The ship can be build however you want. Just turn the decks sideways so peoples feet point towards the rear of the craft and their heads point towards the front. In these ships, people don't fly "forwards" they always fly "up."

Inside the ship, they'd never know the difference because all the screens and displays would show whatever view they wanted.

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You may be right. However, logically, there are some cases where I can see a common "long and flat" design being more practical:

1) The vehicle is designed to spend extended periods in a gravity well, such as hopping between cities, belly-landing to carry cargo or otherwise operating for extended periods aerodynamically in atmosphere

...Also, th more massive the vessel, the more a tail landing scheme will cause similar problems, not to mention creating a towering structure that is vulnerable to wind.
slightly offtopic- I think that atmosperic landings would be prohibitted to some ships. They would only be able to dock to a space station and then have there cargo unloaded through space elevators (will there be any?) and/or specially designed surface to orbit dingys. I think the naval equivalent of weighing anchor away from land is a good analogy.

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Ah, yes. Now what Wavinator says makes more sense. I should have caught that.

No, it wouldn't do to have everyone trying to stand on a wall if the ship is meant to enter gravity wells and land on planets.

I think you either have to do as Thermodynamics says and use "ferryboats" or a space elevator as a go between *or* the ships have to have some kind of artificial gravity or be able to transform or change itself depending on the situation.

Ships that have rotating rings to provide a sort of artificial gravity aren't going to land. A lot of exotic ships aren't going to land.

Maybe the ship can be designed like one of those wierd paintings where any surface could be a wall, floor, or ceiling, depending on what was going on. Walking down the hall, you'd see doors positioned every which way - on the ceiling, upside down, on the floor....

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Original post by Kars
Just a though, I remember seeing a movie quite a while agao (Abyss I think) where a divers suit was filled with a bretable liquid so the diver could withstand more presser and go deeper. Don't know the science behind it (if there actually was any), but if it is sound....


In Gerry Anderson's UFO, the aliens were green because they breathed an oxygenated liquid for interstellar flight, for the same reason. The liquid was green and it dyed their skin.

Yeah, you can breathe oxygenated liquid. Don't know how much it would protect you against pressures though (and does it really matter? ;) )

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Original post by Ubik
The gravity producing mechanism also offers a good chance for balancing. Gravity mechanism would produce a gravity field representing some mass (one earth for one G), or alternatively it could be something like ships mass * G. Bigger gravity requires more energy, so producing full gravity for a big ship would mean that there is not that much energy to absorb the inertia forces, making the big ships less maneuverable.


I think this could balance nicely for the player who is willing to do a little bit of optimizing for their ship. But rather than using a movement penalty, it may be enough to simply balance the power cost issue of running the gravity generators.

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Original post by frostburn
If I remember correctly from other posts your're going to have a graphical representation of the ships and environment (was it 1st or 3rd person? doesn't matter). If things have to be designed so that everything can be used in zero g and during acceleration etc I'm afraid that the ships won't look anything like a combat vessel


This is a side issue that has arisen: Is it cool if form follows function, or should ships be created to look sexy? Part of this is in the hands of the players as they weld together lego-style pieces in building their ship. Part of it is determined by the ruleset that makes one design better than another. I'm not sure having a flying amalgam of blocks and beveled edges is all that bad, as opposed to a sleek, sexy look (Babylon 5 versus Star Trek ships).

Quote:

ID and AG may produce energy signatures that's detectable by other ships. A sound tactic in stealth missions can be to turn off the devices. Ships designed to be very stealthy could be made completely without these devices.


Cool idea. Yes, it would enhance stealth.

Quote:

Let all ships have intertial dampening and AG, but give it a bit of a size so that people won't ask for anti-g suits or guns or things like that.


This may be easier in the long run for simplicity's sake. Although making some sort of division would create a difference in feel in tech levels, like the difference between sailing and steam ships if you wanted to create interesting and divergent environments.

Quote:

I assume the "playing field" is going to be huge (interstellar). If travel between stars is sub-C you'll have to deal with relativistics. If you're using wormhole, hyperspace, etc. you're already using at least as exotic technology as AG. I can't see why you shouldn't allow AG but allow "shortcuts". If you're using Super-C speeds you need huge acceleration and ID would make this tolerable for the people inside.


Interstellar travel is FTL, but depending on tech level, interplanetary flight may be STL. Here I think handwaving is best in that the g forces and translati
on issues get obviated.
(My criteria for adding a scientific principle or effect is if it is worth doing for the reward and adds to gameplay, not because its real).

Quote:

Inertial dampening and combat: As stated, ID removes effect of outside acceleration from the inside of the ship. ID may be controlled by a computer and while it's capable of correcting the steady acceleration of the ship (after all it gets information from the helm), shock effects by explosions will still cause things inside to be bounced around. If the ID device is in disrepair, damaged or destroyed the effects will be worse. Effects wary from a light shaking from an explosion to being thrown across the room to not being able to dampen engine acceleration (pulled toward the engine during acceleration).


Hmmmm... could be useful for saboteurs and boarders.

Quote:

Fighters: If you're using manned fighters you have to have ID. A normal human can survive 12Gs for a few seconds, but a missile can sustain heavy Gs without any problem (my cellular phone survives 200G - I would have been crushed). ID in fighters can remove for example 95% of pulling Gs, making it able to be much more manouverable. AG may not be needed.
The alternative is to only use missiles and drones. Or robot pilots [smile].


The drone / robot fighter universe is just too sterile for me, so I'm going with man-machine interface on this one as superior. So, yes, ID definitely.

Quote:

Artificial G and combat: If AG is knocked out or turned off things inside become weightless (assuming ID works). If you really want to have zero-g fighting inside the spaceships you can let the AG devices be very suspectible to energy fluctuations etc.


Ah, a delicate system. I've got a mechanism for that built into the combat engine, so I'll have to keep this in mind and try it.

Quote:

AG can sometimes also be used as a weapon. If you mount gravity plating in the roof as well as in the floor you can pummel intruders by swithcing the direction of the gravity. It might also be possible to increase the gravity to above normal, either crushing them (but then you'd probably do damage to the ship as well), or letting them feel what an insect feels when it's put in a jar and shaken. Everything not secured will also be thrown about though.


This would be a funny anim and an effective barrier in a corridoor, causing you to have to destroy the plates at range. If they were camoflagued, it would be much worse.

Quote:

You could give your soldiers extensive Zero-G training so that if the ship is invaded they'll have an edge during combat by turning off AG. If they have no training and the AG is disrupted they'll flap about like the frogs they sent to the ISS recently. It wasn't pretty.


This was one of the main reasons I thought about it being interesting. I see a galaxy with mishmash tech and its possible to have people using old, reliable tech they don't understand which generates gravity for them when they go into space (mass produced via push-button automation). Yet when they encounter a supposedly more "primitive" culture without AG, they might get their collective butts whipped in space.


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And finally, in Zero-G combat, remember - The enemy's gate is down.


???

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