Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

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Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Crucis on Thu 28 Mar 2013 09:49

Back in the late 90’s, SDS changed the concept of Evasive Maneuvering to what it called “Engine Modulation”. This was done because SDS felt that “the idea that a starship could maneuver side to side enough to affect incoming fire and still be restricted by a turn mode was unbelievable”. (I can understand this logic, and it's probably not wrong.)

Thus, SDS came up with the concept of Engine Modulation wherein the drive field was intentionally deformed to fool targeting systems, which supposedly aim by detecting its target's DF than aiming at its center. In this idea, deforming the DF would change the location of the DF's center, thus fooling the targeting systems.

The problem I have is that this idea of “Engine Modulation” is every bit as unbelievable to me as Evasive Maneuvering was to SDS back then. I do not buy that you can deform a drive field without it losing its integrity and collapsing. I feel that a DF is going to have whatever its shape happens to be when the ship is built and its engines installed, and only some sort of major overhaul could change that.

So I'm left with a dilemma.

Do I stick with Evasive Maneuvering as described, i.e. bobbing and weaving, to create this effect, and ignore the fact that some might find it unbelievable? Or do simply say that both concepts are unbelievable and dump both of them? (Keeping the Engine Modulation concept is a total non-starter for me.)

EDIT: A possible middle ground for keeping Evasive Maneuvering could be that fighters might be able to use it but starships couldn't.

Personally, I'm tempted to choose the latter option in the name of simplifying things. But I'm curious what people think about this.
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Tamjiri on Thu 28 Mar 2013 11:55

I am more comfortable with "Engine Modulation".
Like you, I find it very hard for a star ship to jink about enough to fool incoming fire.

I have always looked at "Engine Modulation" more as a last ditch counter measure that all vessels have.
The reduction in engine power, movement, output is from the ship diverting the power to a counter measure system that the ship come equipped with.

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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Hawkeye on Thu 28 Mar 2013 13:32

I haven´t dug deep into the pseudo-science of starfire, but as far as I know, the ships are supposed to use reactionless drives. Given that, jinking and weaving enough to throw off a firing solution seems to be a piece of cake to me.

Actually, it is my opinion, that the ranges, at which one can hit a ship with beam weapons are ridiculous (this is, of course, not a starfire exclusive thing).

Lets say, my corvette is a sphere of 100m diameter. Lets also assume, it can pull 10 g (darn bloody low, given how fast starfire ships are). This means, it can change its speed by 100 m/sec per second.
If my corvette is 2 LS from you, you see where my ship was two seconds ago, when you shoot and your laser beam needs another 2 seconds to reach that spot. In that time, my ship can have moved 800m into any direction from its initial vector to any spot in a 1600 circle (as seen from your ship), giving you a 1 in 256 chance to hit me.
(I just hope my math didn´t fail me here :) )

Of course, the turn radius makes absolutely no sense in such a setting whatsoever. I understand that it is there as a balance thing and to make capital ships feel like capital ships (i.e. monstorus, lumbering giants) but from a logic point of view reacionless drive simply makes a turn radius, based apparently on a ships mass totaly nonsensical.


Hm, looking back at my post, I haven´t actually answered your question :)

I suppose, getting rid of the turn radius is out of the question, yes?
Then I´d just go with last option and drop the whole thing for starships (basicly: Don´t mention it and no-one will notice it or, to look at it differently, we assume every ship already jinks as much as possible and that is allready included in the to-hit numbers).
Personally, I´d go even further and drop it for fighters too, basicly going: "If a fighter can jink, a starship can jink", as a _space_ fighter basicly is just a small starship.

A starship might actually be _better_ at jinking than a fighter, as it should be able to carry much more efficient drives in relation to its size (economy of size).
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Thu 28 Mar 2013 15:02

I've got a bit of a different take on evasive maneuvers. The game system is two dimensional. What if the erratic movement was along the z axis? That wouldn't affect heading or turn mode, but would allow for some evasion.
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Crucis on Thu 28 Mar 2013 15:08

Hawkeye wrote:I haven´t dug deep into the pseudo-science of starfire, but as far as I know, the ships are supposed to use reactionless drives. Given that, jinking and weaving enough to throw off a firing solution seems to be a piece of cake to me.

Actually, it is my opinion, that the ranges, at which one can hit a ship with beam weapons are ridiculous (this is, of course, not a starfire exclusive thing).


Probably quite true. As for the ranges, I don't get too hung up on them. 3rd Edition had 3 difference game scales, not counting the strategic scale, with the lowest having hexes 1/2 LS across. (3rdR uses 1/4 LS hexes, which I don't think that they realized at the time created a mess with the interception scale.) I realize that even 1/2 LS hexes create rather considerable ranges for weapons, but reducing the size of the tactical hexes would play merry havoc with trying to transition from the tactical to the interception to the system scales. So I just ignore the problem because no solution would be workable while allowing for clean scale to scale transitions.



Lets say, my corvette is a sphere of 100m diameter. Lets also assume, it can pull 10 g (darn bloody low, given how fast starfire ships are). This means, it can change its speed by 100 m/sec per second.

If my corvette is 2 LS from you, you see where my ship was two seconds ago, when you shoot and your laser beam needs another 2 seconds to reach that spot. In that time, my ship can have moved 800m into any direction from its initial vector to any spot in a 1600 circle (as seen from your ship), giving you a 1 in 256 chance to hit me.
(I just hope my math didn´t fail me here :) )


Well, aside from it just being a game, there's this to keep in mind. Given that turn modes do exist and ships turn relatively slowly, to hit probabilities are based on the ability of targeting computers to predict where the target will be when the beam arrives in the general area. Also, it's assumed, IIRC, that beam weapons aren't firing a single large pulse, but many pulses to blanket the general area and increase the chances of getting a hit.






Of course, the turn radius makes absolutely no sense in such a setting whatsoever. I understand that it is there as a balance thing and to make capital ships feel like capital ships (i.e. monstrous, lumbering giants) but from a logic point of view reactionless drive simply makes a turn radius, based apparently on a ships mass totally nonsensical.


Like I've said, it's a game, and as you correctly point out, it's about making large ships feel large.

Hm, looking back at my post, I haven´t actually answered your question :)


I suppose, getting rid of the turn radius is out of the question, yes?


Big time. (that's a yes.) There's almost be no point to maneuvering in close combat without turn modes. And doing so would make tiny ships that much useless relative to large ships. I'm no fan of swarming tactics with tiny ships, and removing turn mode would be really nice for the largest of ships. But it would be going far too far.

The Starfire paradigm of great lumbering battlewagons needs to remain part of the game.

Then I´d just go with last option and drop the whole thing for starships (basically: Don´t mention it and no-one will notice it or, to look at it differently, we assume every ship already jinks as much as possible and that is already included in the to-hit numbers).

Personally, I´d go even further and drop it for fighters too, basically going: "If a fighter can jink, a starship can jink", as a _space_ fighter basically is just a small starship.

A starship might actually be _better_ at jinking than a fighter, as it should be able to carry much more efficient drives in relation to its size (economy of size).


That may or may not be true.... but, in an environment where for the sake of the game, the larger the starship, the higher the turn mode, it wouldn't seem logical to me that starships would be more able to jink than relatively very small fighters. Besides which, fighters usually need all the help they can get to survive.


Regardless, thanks for your input, Hawkeye.
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Crucis on Thu 28 Mar 2013 15:13

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:I've got a bit of a different take on evasive maneuvers. The game system is two dimensional. What if the erratic movement was along the z axis? That wouldn't affect heading or turn mode, but would allow for some evasion.



Alexei, evasive maneuvering assumes a degree of maneuverability, whether it's on the x, y, or z axis that for many people seems to incapable of being justified in a paradigm where ships have turn modes. And while the game is played in two dimensional, in the pseudo-reality one should assume that maneuvering could be in 3 dimensions, and if you wanted to do a 60* turn upwards, you'd have to satisfy your turn mode the same as if it was for a turn to port or starboard.

So for the same reasons that jinking to the left or right isn't logical, jinking up or down is also not logical. (Or maybe I should say believable.)
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby AlexeiTimoshenko on Thu 28 Mar 2013 15:43

Crucis wrote:Alexei, evasive maneuvering assumes a degree of maneuverability, whether it's on the x, y, or z axis that for many people seems to incapable of being justified in a paradigm where ships have turn modes. And while the game is played in two dimensional, in the pseudo-reality one should assume that maneuvering could be in 3 dimensions, and if you wanted to do a 60* turn upwards, you'd have to satisfy your turn mode the same as if it was for a turn to port or starboard.

So for the same reasons that jinking to the left or right isn't logical, jinking up or down is also not logical. (Or maybe I should say believable.)


A 60 degree z axis course adjustment would require meeting the turn mode. However, what I'm thinking of are far smaller vertical changes needing say a 5 degree nose up/down attitude. The idea is to jink a few hundred kilometers vertically in a hex that has a 75,000 km radius. Think of it a moving like a porpoise up and down.
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Crucis on Thu 28 Mar 2013 15:55

AlexeiTimoshenko wrote:
Crucis wrote:Alexei, evasive maneuvering assumes a degree of maneuverability, whether it's on the x, y, or z axis that for many people seems to incapable of being justified in a paradigm where ships have turn modes. And while the game is played in two dimensional, in the pseudo-reality one should assume that maneuvering could be in 3 dimensions, and if you wanted to do a 60* turn upwards, you'd have to satisfy your turn mode the same as if it was for a turn to port or starboard.

So for the same reasons that jinking to the left or right isn't logical, jinking up or down is also not logical. (Or maybe I should say believable.)


A 60 degree z axis course adjustment would require meeting the turn mode. However, what I'm thinking of are far smaller vertical changes needing say a 5 degree nose up/down attitude. The idea is to jink a few hundred kilometers vertically in a hex that has a 75,000 km radius. Think of it a moving like a porpoise up and down.



The thing is that "satisfying a turn mode" is really a game term. In pseudo-reality, lower turn modes would mean that the ship could make tighter turns in degrees per second. The ship really wouldn't be making the 60* turn in an instant. It'd be making the turn over the course of a number of seconds. And while I'm no pilot, it seems to me that jinking on the z-axis would be playing havoc with the ship's ability to make those turns on the xy plane.
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Hawkeye on Fri 29 Mar 2013 05:42

Crucis wrote:Probably quite true. As for the ranges, I don't get too hung up on them. 3rd Edition had 3 difference game scales, not counting the strategic scale, with the lowest having hexes 1/2 LS across. (3rdR uses 1/4 LS hexes, which I don't think that they realized at the time created a mess with the interception scale.) I realize that even 1/2 LS hexes create rather considerable ranges for weapons, but reducing the size of the tactical hexes would play merry havoc with trying to transition from the tactical to the interception to the system scales. So I just ignore the problem because no solution would be workable while allowing for clean scale to scale transitions.


Probably the best thing to do :)

Crucis wrote:Well, aside from it just being a game, there's this to keep in mind. Given that turn modes do exist and ships turn relatively slowly, to hit probabilities are based on the ability of targeting computers to predict where the target will be when the beam arrives in the general area. Also, it's assumed, IIRC, that beam weapons aren't firing a single large pulse, but many pulses to blanket the general area and increase the chances of getting a hit..


Oh, oh. This (the bold part) is something I have heard in several discussions (not only starfire) as an argument, but IMO, it doesn´t fly.
If my laser cannon shoots basicly what could be described as a long burst, then why is the damage infilcted always the same (i.e. there could be 1 or more single shots hitting the target). Now you could say, the targeting computers spread the shots out far enough to "guarantee" a single hit and no overlap, so to speak (of course, what if I am willing to program my targeting system to spread the beams only half as much, halfing my chance to hit, but having a good chance to get 3 to 4 hits _if_ I hit), but what about bases, asteroid forts or, god forbid, PDCs? Shurly, those can´t take the same evasive actions as a starship. Given that, most of those shots should hit them (for a PDC I´d say _all_ of them, ´cause I can´t see a PDC running around on the surface of a moon, trying to get out of the line of fire :) ) and obliterate them in short order.

Crucis wrote:Like I've said, it's a game, and as you correctly point out, it's about making large ships feel large.


Crucis wrote:Big time. (that's a yes.) There's almost be no point to maneuvering in close combat without turn modes. And doing so would make tiny ships that much useless relative to large ships. I'm no fan of swarming tactics with tiny ships, and removing turn mode would be really nice for the largest of ships. But it would be going far too far.

The Starfire paradigm of great lumbering battlewagons needs to remain part of the game.


Oh, I agree. I wasn´t seriously suggesting to remove the turn mode as that would pretty much throw the "tactical" part in "tactical combat" out the window :)

Crucis wrote:That may or may not be true.... but, in an environment where for the sake of the game, the larger the starship, the higher the turn mode, it wouldn't seem logical to me that starships would be more able to jink than relatively very small fighters. Besides which, fighters usually need all the help they can get to survive.


And again I agree. _With_ the turn modes in, it absolutely makes sense, that fighters are more manouverable than starships. It also makes fighters feel more like they are depicted in pretty much every movie and novel.
Crucis wrote:Regardless, thanks for your input, Hawkeye.


No problem :)
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Re: Evasive Maneuvering and Engine Modulation

Postby Crucis on Fri 29 Mar 2013 12:01

Hawkeye wrote:
Crucis wrote:Well, aside from it just being a game, there's this to keep in mind. Given that turn modes do exist and ships turn relatively slowly, to hit probabilities are based on the ability of targeting computers to predict where the target will be when the beam arrives in the general area. Also, it's assumed, IIRC, that beam weapons aren't firing a single large pulse, but many pulses to blanket the general area and increase the chances of getting a hit..


Oh, oh. This (the bold part) is something I have heard in several discussions (not only starfire) as an argument, but IMO, it doesn´t fly.
If my laser cannon shoots basically what could be described as a long burst, then why is the damage inflicted always the same (i.e. there could be 1 or more single shots hitting the target). Now you could say, the targeting computers spread the shots out far enough to "guarantee" a single hit and no overlap, so to speak (of course, what if I am willing to program my targeting system to spread the beams only half as much, halving my chance to hit, but having a good chance to get 3 to 4 hits _if_ I hit), but what about bases, asteroid forts or, god forbid, PDCs? Surely, those can´t take the same evasive actions as a starship. Given that, most of those shots should hit them (for a PDC I´d say _all_ of them, ´cause I can´t see a PDC running around on the surface of a moon, trying to get out of the line of fire :) ) and obliterate them in short order.


In the past, there was a to-hit bonus when one targeted bases for this reason, i.e. they couldn't dodge. I hadn't gotten around to considering it, but there's a chance that I might re-institute this bonus.

The problem that bases have, particularly OWP's, is that they don't exactly have a lot going in their favor. About the single best thing in their favor (tactically speaking) is the lack of a blind spot. Otherwise, the lack of mobility tends to make them sitting ducks. In Ultra, bases are given the benefit of an extended range bonus for LRW's, which can be nice, though obviously it's only a benefit for bases mounting LRW's.


Regardless, warships should be better than OWP's so I don't really see much of a problem here, aside from a little tweaking around the edges.
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