A new way to look at Habitability

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A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Wed 26 May 2010 21:06

hey all!

I've been thinking about Habitability recently, and I had this new idea. It's probably a bit too complex to use, but it's really not all that complex in the grand scheme of things, and I thought that I'd present it to everyone, just to see what people thought, or to use it suited your fancy.


The premise of this idea is that the Hab Index produces results that are too cookie-cutter, because the many abstracted factors really should never cause two races with the same HI to always and forever see all other worlds exactly the same.

Anyways, in this idea, the generic Hab Index is replaced by 5 different Habitability factors:

Gravity (which also factors in atmospheric density),
Axial Tilt (which describes how mild or extreme the seasonal climatic shifts will be),
Hydrographic Percentage (how much water is on this world),
Average Temperature (self explanatory),
Miscellaneous (this includes a number of other various and more subtle factors, including biochemical compatibility)

Each of these Habitability Factors has its own 1d10 value. However, do NOT add up the factors. The total of these factors is meaningless. You can have two races with very similar HF totals that will have trouble looking at worlds similarly. Note however that each of these HF's *IS* a wraparound value.

When you complete a survey on a new T/ST, you'd roll up the 5 HF's for that world.

How do you calculate the Hab Differential in this model?

Calculate the individual HD for each of the 5 HF's and then add up those HD's for a Total HD. Given that this is a wraparound model, the Total HD range is 0 to 25. Then you'd compare the Total HD against the following table:


Code: Select all
HD              ENVIRONMENT
0-8             Benign
9-17            Harsh
18-25           Hostile



I did a quickie test with 3 worlds. Earth, Orion, and Centar.

Earth: G10, AT1, H7,T3, M5 (total 26)
Orion: all factors 5, (total 25)
Centar: all factors 10, (total 50)

The Totaled HDs for the 3 different combos worked out like this.

Earth-Orion, the Total HD was 13. For Orion-Centar, it was 25. For Earth-Centar, it was only 12.

And yet if you simply added up the sums of each world's HF values, Earth was 26 and Orion was 25. However, the individual factors for Earth and Orion caused a calculated differential of 13, which would be a Harsh. This shows how meaningless the sum of the HF's for a given world are in this model.

In this model, the way in which two races would see most worlds similarly would be for the two races' own comparative HD to be minimal. As you can see above that while the (meaningless) totaled HF's for Earth and Orion are close, the reality is that their HD is not that close ... because the gravity and axial tilt factors are quite different.

This model supports nicely split 33%, 33%, 33% split between the different habitable sub-environments. And it produces much less cookie cutter results. I won't say that the model's results are unpredictable, since with a little bit of thought, you can see what will happen. I guess that the model is less linear, since there are five factors, rather than a single merged factor.

Also, this model produces a bit of flavor, since the HF's include gravity, axial tilt, hydro%, and ave. temp. You have a better idea what the world's environment looks like. Think of HF values of 5-6 as the max values and 1 and 10 as the min values.



Anyways, that's it... Comment away.

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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Cralis on Thu 27 May 2010 01:12

FYI, when talking to Fred about this, the paragraph:

crucis wrote:Calculate the individual HD for each of the 5 HF's and then add up those HD's for a Total HD. Given that this is a wraparound model, the Total HD range is 0 to 25. Then you'd compare the Total HD against the following table:


This really means to calculate the absolute differences in the HF for each HF category. Thus calculate a habitability difference (HD) on each of the gravity, temperature, hydro%, tilt, and misc categories and then add the DIFFERENCES together. This didn't seem very clear to me.

If you do it this way then the proposal makes sense. Interesting idea.

Edit: Although in thinking about it, I would replace "misc" category with either "organic factors" or "atmosphere composition." In fact, since it appears that habitable worlds (as we know them) will have mechanisms that will produce a limited range of atmospheric composition, I'd go with that.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby krenshala on Thu 27 May 2010 21:19

must resist ... must ... gaaaah!


Crucis wrote:Calculate the individual HD for each of the 5 HF's and then add up those HD's for a Total HD. Given that this is a wraparound model, the Total HD range is 0 to 25. Then you'd compare the Total HD against the following table:

Code: Select all
HD              ENVIRONMENT
0-8             Benign
9-17            Harsh
18-25           Hostile

I did a quickie test with 3 worlds. Earth, Orion, and Centar.

Earth: G10, AT1, H7,T3, M5 (total 26)

Shouldn't AT be 2 for Earth. (0-9)*10 degrees of Axial Tilt for the planet. :twisted:
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Thu 27 May 2010 21:29

krenshala wrote:must resist ... must ... gaaaah!


No.... don't resist. Resistance is futile! You must give feedback. You MUST!!! :twisted: :mrgreen:

Crucis wrote:Calculate the individual HD for each of the 5 HF's and then add up those HD's for a Total HD. Given that this is a wraparound model, the Total HD range is 0 to 25. Then you'd compare the Total HD against the following table:

Code: Select all
HD              ENVIRONMENT
0-8             Benign
9-17            Harsh
18-25           Hostile

I did a quickie test with 3 worlds. Earth, Orion, and Centar.

Earth: G10, AT1, H7,T3, M5 (total 26)

Shouldn't AT be 2 for Earth. (0-9)*10 degrees of Axial Tilt for the planet. :twisted:


Those #'s for Earth were just made up to show how two planets, Earth and Orion, having about the same total HF value, could be very, very different when it came to comparing to other planets... and that the sum of the HF's was really meaningless.

Also, if one wanted to actually look at the HF's as percentile values, then it would be better to use a d20 wraparound scale, so that 1-10 equaled 10-100%, and 11-20 also equaled 100-10% in reverse. (well, maybe it should be 90-10%, with 20 equaling 0%)....

It's tricky doing wrap-arounds for the sake of balance while trying to maintain proper percentile values.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Xveers on Fri 28 May 2010 01:25

I support this idea. It's more complex yes, but I think it offers some truly interesting results... and makes planets that are benign for more than one race very valuable targets. Incidentally, would this be something that could fold STs into the same system, or would they still be kept seperate?
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Fri 28 May 2010 09:26

Xveers, actually, I tend to think that it'd be better for this particular model if T and ST were merged into a single type.

If that were the case, how would one tell know which ones were T and which ones were ST, I'd look at gravity. And on a 10 point wraparound scale, I'd assume that values of 4-6 represented ST worlds. That'd make about 30% of T/ST worlds ST and the remaining 70% T.
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Fri 28 May 2010 16:25

Just for comparison's sake, here's another alternative way to do Habitability...

This idea is sort the opposite of the first idea... The underlying thought behind this idea is that the various factors that define "habitability" are numerous and too complex to be defined by any sort of single "habitability index". That is, the factors are too varied and complex to say that any two races should always see the same "third" planets exactly the same all the time.


So, here's the idea... Scrap the Habitability "index". But when you survey a habitable planet, roll for the planet's HD (1d10 or 1d100). This HD value would only hold true for the surveying race. Any other race would need to do their own survey, and make their own HD roll.

The HD value would be used on a lookup table to determine the appropriate environment. For example, the lookup table would probably look like this...

Code: Select all
Environment        D100      D10
Benign             1-33      1-3
Harsh             34-67      4-7
Hostile           68-100     8-10


I think prefer a d100 roll for the even 33% split, but either would work.

In this model, there'd be no guarantee that just because race A and race B both found planet X "benign" that they'd both find planet Y "benign" as well, because the array of abstracted factors would be assumed to be so great that there were no guarantees.

Note: This probably works better when the T and ST type are merged. Otherwise, if one used something similar to the Ultra model, for ST races, all other ST planets would be Benign, and then you'd have a 50/50 chance of Harsh/Hostile for T planets. And vice-versa, T planets would always see ST planets as Hostile, while having a 50/50 chance of Benign/Harsh for other T planets. Frankly, I'd prefer a merged T/ST model so that there was more variety and less of a cookie-cutter outcome to habitability.

Would this model produce some seemingly inconsistent results? Yes ... BUT, IMHO, this is a problem with the current HI paradigm. It creates consistency where there should really be much less consistency. The "consistency" should be in the underlying factors (as one can see in the HF model in the first post of this thread), not in how they merge into a somewhat bogus overarching Habitability Index. This particular model simply assumes that the underlying factors are too varied and complex to be dealt with in a simple and consistent "index".


Also note that any race's home world would automatically be assumed to be Benign to that race. (That's probably a bit obvious, but I thought I'd state it for the record.)
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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby Crucis on Sat 29 May 2010 11:17

Ok, I seem to be on a roll ... so here's yet another alternative way to look at habitability.

This particular model is really a modification of the "HF" model from the original post, except that the HF's in this model do NOT wrap-around. The point of this model is, I suppose, to show that it is possible to do Habitability in a balanced way without using wrap-around.



As with the model in the first post, there are 5 Habitability Factors (HF): Gravity, Axial Tilt, Hydrographic %, Average Temperature, and Miscellaneous. Each of these HF's have a non-wrapping 10 point scale (1d10).

As with the first model, the "total habitability differential" (THD) is calculated by first determining the individual "habitability factor differentials" (HFD's). For each HF, cross reference the race's own HF vs. the planet's HF in the table below. The value cross-referenced is the HD value.


((Note that these HD's are NOT mathematical differences. Instead, this table was specifically built so that every HF value would have the exact same number of HD values, i.e. 1-zero, 2-1's, 2-2's, 2-3's, 2-4's, and 1-5.))


Code: Select all
HF   1   2   3   4   5   6   7   8   9   10
=========================================================================
1    0   1   2   3   4   5   5   5   5   5
2    1   0   1   2   3   4   4   4   4   4
3    1   1   0   1   2   3   4   4   4   4
4    2   2   1   0   1   2   3   3   3   3
5    2   2   2   1   0   1   2   3   3   3
6    3   3   3   2   1   0   1   2   2   2
7    3   3   3   3   2   1   0   1   2   2
8    4   4   4   4   3   2   1   0   1   1
9    4   4   4   4   4   3   2   1   0   1
10   5   5   5   5   5   4   3   2   1   0





When you have cross-referenced all five HF's, add up the 5 HFD's to produce the THD. Next, using the THD, look up the appropriate Environment on the table below.

Code: Select all
THD             ENVIRONMENT
0-8             Benign
9-17            Harsh
18-25           Hostile





For whatever it's worth, you could use a single non-wrapping Habitability Index with the first table and have a set of balanced HD's... though frankly, there's not much value to not using a wrapping HI, since the HI concept itself is so abstract that it's hard to see any meaning in each HI value. However, with the HF concept, where the Hab Factors are physical factors that one can understand, non-wrapping has more meaning. That is, on a 10 point, non-wrapping scale, IIRC, Earth's Axial Tilt would be about a 2.



Anyways, these habitability models may be a bit complex for many people, but I thought that I'd post them out for yucks...


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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby LesMasters on Sun 30 May 2010 00:22

Crucis

One problem with your second option stands out immediately. For a target planet to be benign to the surveying race, the HFDs must be small. However: it is possible for some to get a THD below 9 (benign) even if one of the HFDs is 4 or 5. This means you are marking the world up as "benign" even though, in one respect at least, it is "harsh" or even "hostile". Looking back, this my also be a problem with your first option. As an example, just think of some of the hostile regions on Earth - Antarctica has mostly the same HFs as the rest of the planet, but is hardly "benign" for most of us.

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Re: A new way to look at Habitability

Postby LesMasters on Sun 30 May 2010 00:37

Addendum: possible solution

Each HF should be considered separately, giving an HFD which is "benign", "harsh" or "hostile" for the surveying race. If one or more HFDs is "harsh", the planet is "harsh"; if one or more is "hostile", the world is "hostile".

If you want to go further down the road to "realism", modify the cost of colonising the world according to how many of the HFDs are "harsh" or "hostile". (See also the discussion on colonists accompanying survey fleets ("More CFN questions" - Ultra board, I think).

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