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Thread: What is combat going to be like?

  1. #1
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    Feb 2017

    What is combat going to be like?

    Here is a thought train for you.

    * I don't think dogfighting with this much inertia will be playable. Even docking with a predictably rotating object is hard enough to spawn various frustrated discussions. Close quarters evasive maneuvers as well as staying on somebody's tail seems pretty much out the window.

    * The interface does not seem to give a situational awareness that invites to creating fire zones, multi ship formations, maintaining an intentional AOB (angle-on-bow), using other enemies to break LOS etc. Even if you are not going to be part of a fleet, you probably are going to attack or defend something that has multiple units that you need to relate to differently (escorts vs targets).

    The demos thus far have been straight forward shooting on stationary items. But all firing seems to be at a range that would be impossible to maintain if the target has some rudimentary MTS/RCS.

    One thing I can think of is some sort of beam weapon that is not instant hit, and the damage dissipates with distance. So you basically try to deal with system damage and maintaining shields and weapons while deciding if you want to close in on, or speed away from your target.
    In addition your targeting profile should matter. If you decide on turning off TMS, then the targeting system of the opponent will be less effective because you give off a weaker thermal signature.

    So maybe a possible scenario could unfold like this:
    * One of your (affiliated) facilities reports multiple unknown contacts: two small, one medium. Not responding to hails.
    * You plot course towards the station. Full speed. Engage.
    * Station is reporting the two small contacts are opening fire. They are identified as fighter crafts. Defense grid is engaging.
    * You keep full accelleration. You cut active sensors.
    * Station is reporting that passive defenses (shields and armor) are holding. One fighter damaged.
    * You are approaching, but still outside sensor range. You see the station on sensors (due to its beacon). You do not yet see the attackers. You decide to cut down on engines and vent heat. Dumping heat before going "dark".
    * The attacks firing and active sensors are registering on your sensors. You cut down on power while stowing the radiators. The (little) heat generated is now magazined in the TMS loops or some internal reservoir. You are basically drifting towards the station at high speed. The station is reporting that defensive grid has been disabled. Shields are holding. The damaged fighter is going critical, eject its core and is dead in the water.
    * The station is reporting that the medium target is now closing in and identified as a corvette. It has boarding capability.
    * You are within firing range and getting a firing solution. You know full well that you will overshoot the battle area. You will get 4-5 salvoes. You put full power to the weapons system. Heat is building up.
    * You fire a large salvoe at the corvette. Station is reporting that target is damaged. You cannot assess the damage because you are still going without active sensors. The enemy fighter is attempting to locate you. First warning of ECS system overheating.
    * You fire another salvoe at the corvette. You score full hit. Heat is now at alarm level. You find you must reveal yourself at this point. You turn on full TMS radiation and activate full sensors. All systems except MES.
    * You find that the corvette is moderately damaged, but probably still drifting towards the station so it's not all in the clear. The fighter is firing at you and hitting. The station is reporting that the defense grid will be up in 30 seconds.
    * You pass the battle area at high speed. You fire at the fighter, but miss. The fighter is scoring another hit. This time you take damage. The fighter is pursuing you.
    * The station defensive grid is now operational. You direct it to fire at the corvette. The fighter is accellerating quicker than you, but you are going so fast that it trails behind.
    * Station is hammering the corvette. You and the fighter are shooting back and forth, but it finds that it is fighting above its weight class and speeds away. You cannot pursue.
    * You fly back to the station. The corvette can just sit tight while the failing LMS deals with the crew and troops. You salvage the disabled fighter and capture its pilot.


    At least this is the sort of combat dynamics I see that will lend itself to the current game mechanics. But at the current velocities, I do not know if this is viable. With the speeds things are passing each other, it is doubtful that this mechanics will play out.
    I do think the game needs beyond-visual-range combat mechanics. I do not see LOS as a tactical element, except when sneaking/hiding to avoid initial detection. As soon as the battle is raging, you cannot navigate to remain in the shadow. If you have main capital ships, then avoiding/disabling firing arcs may be a factor, but again it's hard to maintain AOB (angle-on-bow). It would demand that you have a display that somehow shows a close-up of it so you can see which side of it that is facing you.

    If anybody has read Peter Hamilton "The reality disfunction", then this is the sort of combat mechanics that may be viable. Two vessels sending combat "things" towards eachother (hybrids of drones/weapon station/missiles/countermeasures) and that these are the expendables.

  2. #2
    I don't have much to comment on the rest since it can be interpreted in very figurative way (for ex: "full power to weapon" only matter if the weapon is power hungry like a railgun, its cheesy SF to use the expression to say you'll hit better/harder)
    However there's a few rules to whatever I expect to be called "realistic warfare", which this game advertise as.

    As a first point, my bible is the Atomic Rocket website.
    There Ain't No Stealth In Space

    What is "realistic space warfare" :
    - STEALTH IS IMPOSSIBLE (no folding the radiator don't matter the slightest) & you have 100% detection capability anywhere within combat-range
    - Changing radar from active to passive don't make you any stealthier either, it may only serve to indicate you are neutral if you arrived in a fight without a stance.
    - Sensor range (even passive) easily lies in the 10 000km with modern tech, the range at which a weapon can hit however...
    - Maximum Effective Range is what reduce the distance of engagement. (it change with orbital parameter except for laser, and mechanical precision)
    - A battle is either a single-kill joust (because velocity outmatch any armor possible), or require to match orbital velocity first for any longer encounter.
    - Linked to above : any deployable equipment/drone you send will have to match speed (unless we are talking missile, then only collision course matter, but even that limit their capability)
    - Boarding is tricky & context dependent, it can only happen on target that none of the side is willing to destroy or sacrifice.
    - No energy shield, the most likely type is going to be "hard defense" (shooting away the enemy's projectile)
    - Folding radiator (or sensor) is only a matter of protecting them (even with folded main sensor you are still pretty much omniscient)
    - Laser technology dictate wether it rule the battle or be a bystander (piercing armor with laser is unlikely but blinding a ship is possible)
    - Targeting and "dodging" is 100% automatic, if you can see something and know what it is (missile), your computer can see it better AND know better than you what it is. The pilot only take decision that computer shouldn't have to take (even if they can).

    Acceptable break from reality :
    - FTL serve as the closest equivalent to stealth a space warfare simulator can hope for. (don't make the mistake of believing it mean to advocate "teleport & fight" see other topic for that, hundred of different FTL gameplay are possible)
    - "making up" weapon efficiency/accuracy/heat to make battle more interesting, within reason.
    - Simplification for the sake of "the Dev can't actually read the future or predict military engineers of the 30th century"

    To see the above rules in action, look for videos of "Children of a Dead Earth", then add occasional FTL.
    List non exhaustive, that's all I could think of the top of my head.

    Edit : I'm also not going into "Orbital Warfare" which is a very complicated topic extremely dependent of force projection and the number of ship/station in an area.

  3. #3
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    Feb 2017
    Why don't you think there wont be a progressive model on damage and accuracy depending on range and energy? Range and energy is basically what you have to offer. It is what the current gameplay invites you to master. Damage and accuracy is what you desire from the two.

    I made it pretty clear that the stealth approach was ballistic. IE, no active thrust. The "no stealth in space" premise in your "bible" clearly posits that thrusting is what ruins stealth. It's funny that you call it your "bible" as you indeed replaced what should have remained a rationale... with dogma.

    Velocity may defeat passive armor, but velocity can be beaten. Deflectors may have a repulse effect that divert bullets. Thus we maybe be back in an energy vs energy standoff again. The attacker fires projectiles at a velocity and accuracy decided by the energy that the shooter decides to expend (sounds like a rail gun, yes). The defender repulses the bullets (forces them to miss) that does not have optimum speed and direction for a hit.

    An attack drone makes sense. It has its own propulsion so it can counteract diversion and then fire the projectiles at a range where there it will take more energy to divert them. Likewise, defensive drones between shooter and target may be better positioned to divert projectiles. It takes less diversion

    Orbital warfare will be intriguing. It will, for practical purposes in short duration skirmishes, resemble a stationary battle.

  4. #4
    The "bible" thing is of course a figure of speech, however, I find your lack of faith disturbing...

    No, seriously,
    You haven't yet read enough of that website because most of what you just said will be demonstrated inadequate in it. But don't read it just for our discussion, this is a fabulous source of information to make more credible SF (of course it will take time to read it all).
    You don't see it but you are using a lot of assumptions/preconceived-ideas that probably come from exposure to the common "weak SF" found in movies, animes or books.

    For example : I'm sure you know that "projectile do not slow down in space", but it mean a lot more, like that they don't lose kinetic energy (staying as lethal as when they were when fired) or that with Orbital Mechanic your relative velocity with a target can turn even a tin can into an effective ship-killer shell.
    If you have the accuracy or a guided projectile you can kill a spaceship from any range as long as it hit. (only lasers lose power with distance)

    Rogue System is a fictional game of course and will need break from reality to make the sim/game interesting but the developer is also aiming for more realism than "stealth, space-fighter & Starwars cliché".

    So, for more clarification/answers :

    - I didn't argued against what you would call a "progressive model". I'm just pointing out that REALISTICALLY the context of space warfare will result in 98% of the (expected) weapons, piercing through any armor you had like it was paper, with laser being the only one that can be weak enough to resist.
    The typical speed of a spaceship is in the dozen of kilometer per second, that's WAY faster than current anti-tank ammo, and spaceship are unlikely to afford armor to survive that.

    As a consequences space-warfare may very well be fought without any kind of armor. You either shoot first, or die first. Especially true if you can't afford to match velocity with a target.

    - "STEALTH IS IMPOSSIBLE" no matter if your thrusters are on or off. The website I gave you have a entire pages that will answer EVERY "but what if" you can think about. To keep it short : Even with everything [OFF] a spaceship will ALWAYS stick out like a sore thumb over the cosmic background (which is 3°Kelvin when the minimal temp for manned ship is 372°K), it happen even with current sensor tech in passive mode.
    The very laws of physics works against "space stealth". The website have example of that. At beast you can hope for False flag or disguise.

    - If by "Deflector" you mean "force field", I'll just remind that it's cheesy science fiction. No magnetic field is strong/practical enough to deflect incoming projectile, especially not with the amount of power a spaceship can hope to have. Defense drone are more likely, if viable.

    - "Attack/defense drone" can be likened to the "Space-fighter/carrier" debate. This is not because Air-fighter and Aircraft-Carrier exist on Earth, that the reasons they exist still stand in space.
    To cut the (website) short :
    A drone is for all intent and purpose an unmanned spaceship.
    It have propulsion, but it need POWERFUL propulsion to follow you and the target, meaning LENR fusion-reactor. Which it will also need for some weapons.
    At which point it has already become just as big and costly as your own spaceship. Same goes for the armor, the fuel it carry and the radiator for the heat. So if you have a drone as big as your ship and as armored as it (so it can come back), you can skip the redundancy just arm your own ship better.

    Attack drone CAN be useful, but only in a custom-made setting that isn't necessarily realistic.

    - Orbital Warfare
    ...only feel stationary if you are exactly on the same orbit at the same altitude, which is like organizing Napoleonic's battle lines with the enemy. See "Children of a Dead Earth" for that (you can also have high-speed joust but it's very hard to do manually).

    At least it allow extended engagement because the cost of matching velocity with an enemy on a transfer trajectory in interplanetary space will likely be too high to consider.

    All from me,
    I recommend you again the website Atomic Rocket, if keep participating I'll just end up repeating and quoting every pages.

  5. #5
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    Feb 2017
    I only read from "There aint no stealth in space" to "Nicolls law". Didn't realize they weren't the same level of heading.

    Yes, I agree that stealth may need a "begging" of some sort. A "grant me this". "The martian" has a few, and the book author was aware of these while writing the book.
    In this game, specifically, it could be some black box magic called "dampener" or similar. Requiring power, and seemingly violating the rules of thermodynamics.
    Remember, though, that "detectable using the giant radar arrays on earth" does not directly translate to a small vessel.
    Consider a telescope, no matter how sophisticated its internals are, there is little getting around that it always needs a large diameter lense to be able to gather the light necessary. Similarily, a small vessel in the future may never perform close to what our "crude" earth-bound detectors are doing today.

    There may be gameplay elements in just fighting for the elevated position in a gravity well. As well as scoring hits from a weapon station firing projectiles from a reverse orbit.

    Regarding the deflector. Theoretically, if the railgun can fire it, then a similar magnetic field can stop it over the same distance. And we're not talking about stopping it, just force it to miss.
    If something is both heavy enough and fast enough so that it wont be diverted, then where did the recoil go? Remember that the rail guns examplified on Earth do not need to worry about that. It can fire things that are heavy at high muzzle speed.
    Gameplay wise, it makes sense. You can feed the weapon energy, targeting solution, relative positioning and range. Hopefully, what you get back is a an increased chance to score a hit and do damage.

    Drones. I don't see why you insist they would need reactors. In Kerbal Space program, small probes work just fine and they out-accellerate their larger counterparts no problem.
    Spaceship is using a propellant-free engine for longevity. A probe does not need that. Presumably, a propellant based engine goes faster than a non-propellant engine.

  6. #6
    I'm afraid the website will explain as well that you don't need large telescope either to detect a powered-off spaceship. In fact you don't even need a lens.
    Large telescope have large lens because we are looking for celestial object absurdly far beyond our galaxy. For closer distance (and by that I mean far enough to make stealth unthinkable) you only need the sensor that the lens redirected light to.
    And those sensors are NOT the costliest part of telescope. I'm pretty sure that even consumer-grade camera would do the job good enough to make a spaceship "basically" omniscient over range of 10 000km. The computation power isn't a problem either and again, a spaceship will never be really hard to detect.

    I hope you will find the website interesting to read. It's full of info and idea to make SF more coherent, even using magical technology (but with a main focus on REAL technology)
    Btw : the "Nicoll's Law" say : It is a truth universally acknowledged that any thread that begins by pointing out why stealth in space is impossible will rapidly turn into a thread focusing on schemes whereby stealth in space might be achieved.

    - Deflector field (covered here) :
    Magnetic force decrease with distance following the inverse square law. It will take a lot of power just to deflect a few charged particles, the smallest things you have. You are talking of deflecting projectile with incredible kinetic energy (and far enough for them to miss you)

    Just to be clear : "Magnetic gun" do NOT make RECOIL disappear, Navy warship do feel it but the recoil is simply too weak for it to be noticeable on large spacecraft. Note that "MASS DRIVER" (website again) is precisely about using magnetically propelled pellet to propel a spaceship.
    The website also have a whole section dedicated to "Unexpected consequences" of fictional-tech. For example being able to deflect hyperkinetic projectile at distance would mean you could move physical piece of armor around yourself the same way.

    I will admit something : For all I said about keeping the game realistic, I wouldn't mind a fictional-but-constrained "Langston field" (website again) if it allow the game to be playable at all. because sometime too much realism simply make a game as impossible as it would be in reality. I'll be happy if delta-V stay a things and there is no "fuel-less engine".
    Each "magical tech" someone bring in a setting have the potential of making incoherent/ridiculous the other idea he wanted to use them with.

    - Drones
    I admit It was heavy-handed to drive a point, a lot of assumption goes in what I said.

    >If the drone is meant to accomplish velocity-change similar to your spaceship (basically what would happen if you deploy the drone before matching speed with the target), then they need either a LOT of chemical-fuel or their own nuclear thruster.
    >Defense drone can go away using only chemical-fuel to act as moving shield.
    >Attack drone will need weapon, and if they don't have a big power source it severely limit their choices of weapons. If railgun are considered the weapon of choice then you have no other choice, what get at combat range must be capable of powering one. Resulting in another unmanned spaceship.
    >Then the Cost come into play : What is more cost-effective ? An attack-drone with small weapon that can be destroyed ? or Missiles that can kill it instantly (with likely higher chance of success) ?

    Note about "propellant-free" engine. This is also a magic technology that violate the most fundamental laws of physic. Another NO-GO if you want a realistic game.

  7. #7
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    Feb 2017
    You certainly bring some good points to the table.

    I assume you agree that a magnetically discharged projectile only needs, if ideally applied, the same amount of work to completely stop it as was needed when firing it?
    The problem is to get the "ideally applied" part (good enough to divert the projectile), which can be considered an engineering problem.

    You may be correct in that a reasonably small lense may be sufficient to detect a vessel.
    Remember though, that it must not only be detectable, but classifiable as "not a comet".
    My point about the lenses was that it is tempting to project Mans current capability into the future and assume that our ability to detect will improve linearly. However, the raw data being collected by a small vessel may never rival the power of the radar arrays on Earth today, no matter how sophisticated it is. I understand that this is not what you are saying. You are saying that it is possible with small lense using technology of today. I don't know enough to argue with that.
    I'm surprised, though. I thought that near-earth objects monitoring required a lot of sensors of various sophistiaction, based on different principles and a alot of number crunching.

    My point about the recoil is that rail gun will have to face that projectile mass and projectile velocity speed are limited by recoil, power and technology.
    In the RS weapons demo on youtube, the recoil seems miniscule. Even on full auto fire, the recoil thrust is much less than a cold gas MTS thruster. If projectiles are fired fast, then they sure aren't heavy (and vice versa).

    I am absolutely aware that the propellant free engine is fiction. I have no expectation for the EM drive to pan out. However, the Rogue System MES drives are propellant free. The MTS systems require argon. The MES drives only require energy.

  8. #8
    At the risk of sounding arrogant, it's going to be difficult to discuss this without equivalent experience and knowledge (I'm an aeronautic technician myself).
    But to be clear : your other topic about using your reactor to power another ship reactor is 100% spot on how some things are done with today's airplane. You can -in fact- transfer energy within the plane's engine and from outside an airliner.

    ## Magnetic projectiles
    I'm not sure you got me right, so I'll reword it :
    - coilgun work because projectile are at the closest distance of the magnets generating several successive magnetic fields
    - but even 10m away from what generate it, a magnetic field would require fabulous amount of power to have effect, several magnitude beyond what you used to power the coilgun in the first place.
    - enemy projectile would have to be deflected "far/strongly enough" to miss you.
    To worsen it, a coilgun generate fields for extremely short amount of time, using energy from capacitor, a shield would have to be up constantly. As I said you would have less problem shooting down the projectiles, even bullets.

    Everything can be considered "engineering problem", it doesn't make a fictional technology any less fictional. And yes, you can call "magnetic-based deflector shield" equally as fictional as if you made up a space-time compression field using super science.

    ## Stealth
    Oh I'm definitely correct on this and it's worse than you seem to understand.
    You don't need the lenses, lenses are used to concentrate more light from far objects toward the Infra-red sensor. But 10 000km isn't far enough to need any (worth mentioning) lenses.
    What I'm saying is that a "minimal IR sensor", the sort you find on say an Airfighter, will (in space, with a background of 3°K and no atmosphere to blur the data) be largely enough to know EVERYTHING that matter on a spacecraft and at distance largely superior to what will matter in a fight.
    The 5th generation of air-fighter IR sensor can detect planes 200km away, this goes up exponentially as you remove the atmosphere and make the background 3°K rather than 275°K

    I think you gathered wrong point of reference.
    - Differentiating a comet from a spaceship is child play for a sensor, even if there was 1000 comets per years close to the sun, we will likely even recognize the model of ship from its thermal signature.
    - Near-Earth objects monitoring is about detecting "cold" asteroids who don't produce any heat and check for some hidden beyond the orbit of Pluto. It doesn't ask for large sensor, it only look difficult because (1) there's little funding (2) they use data from others' equipments, we don't have sats dedicated to that (3) they know where all asteroid are but need to filter and calculate if several gravity wells (N-body problem, insanely costly in computation) or impact could eventually redirect one toward us.
    - We can already track space debris down to 1cm around Earth orbits, the military&NASA does it with big sensor/telescope only because something as small as 1cm could pierce a tank armor.
    This is not because long ago it was possible to make an "stealth fighter as small as a bird" on a radar, than the same order of magnitude apply today, in space and with Infrared.

    Also, that will be my last answer about "STEALTH" because, really, the website really do address all this better.

    ## RECOIL

    I want to ask how you determined it seemed minuscule. Estimating distance & speed are tricky in space.
    But I'll also be dropping this part because it have already been answered

    ## MES reactionless-drive
    That's precisely what I want/expect to see go away to really call the game realistic.

  9. #9
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    Feb 2017
    Well, then I am open to suggestions about how to derive tactical gameplay off of the currently implemented dynamics. I assume you agree that dogfighting is pretty much out.
    And that insta-kill over large distances does not offer much, either.

    The gameplay invites to dealing with gradually failing systems. To carry yourself back to port with ejected core, two empty tanks, on the last LSS scrubber filter and on a single fuel cell. Maybe you have to EVA or call a service drone to score some argon to be able to dock at all.

    In a battle situation, somehow, the combination of
    * your working of the internal systems, especially power distribution and timing
    * your situational awareness
    * your overall position and distance

    ..... Should translate to opportunity to deal and to avoid damage.

    Then we can discuss the minimum of "beggings" required to achieve that.

    The video demonstrated firing with only starboard gun, and the vessel only pulled slightly to the right when firing on full auto. That's why I don't see it delivering much kinetic energy into the projectiles.

    # MES
    Well, it seems that Propellant free propulsion is in the game to stay. It makes sense, gameplay wise, to forsake thrust in order to have a high thrust-to-propellant ratio. Short lived drones do not have to compromise on that and can go for something more powerful, but for a short duration.

  10. #10
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    Jun 2015
    Haven't read Bible sorry, just wanted to inject my Stealth "What If", sorry if it is covered in Bible:

    What if the background isn't 3°K?..
    What it it's a Planet...a Star...another Ship, a large satellite ..etc..

    the old "Entering the harbor if the baffle wake of a surface ship" adage.

    (..before you ask, the Surface ship is not hostile in this case)

    Soft and non scientific "argument", sure, but...I think, more in line with the types of problem I'm hoping to need to have to solve in the game.

    *edit*..ohh, just wanted to add in "hiding in plain sight" a busy commercial system, what if 1 (or two, or 10) of those freighters aren't really freighters...
    And what if they Launch hundreds of decoys at the critical moment.

    again, scattered, unfounded thoughts, but ...wanted to type them out..hope they don't interrupt a good debate

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