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How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse 
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Post How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Now, @Arioch, you might know me as Aaron Neumann via my GMail or MisterArtMaster on DeviantArt... and I have been working on a few ideas on the side and wanted to ask you some questions, particularly on how you 'design' ships in your universe. With so many ways to design ships out there, I wanted to see how you do it so I can perfect my own.

Right now my system is a bit of a god-damned mess. I want the mass and density to be 'realistic' but I also don't want it to be completely constrained by 'realism'... if that makes sense...


Wed Aug 15, 2018 3:59 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
It's a good question; I'll take some time to formulate a proper answer.

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Arioch wrote:
It's a good question; I'll take some time to formulate a proper answer.

That's alright, I can wait. :)


Wed Aug 15, 2018 6:14 pm
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Step one: acquire whiskey. :P


Wed Aug 15, 2018 9:45 pm
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Step two: take the U.S. space shuttle and give it pointy ears.

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Thu Aug 16, 2018 1:29 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Step 3: iniate thrusters and give it a nudge sunward.

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
GeoModder wrote:
Step 3: iniate thrusters and give it a nudge sunward.


I usually just shine a flashlight out the back.


Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:25 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Step 4: Add turrets, because turrets are cool. The more the better (moar dakka)


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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Step 5: add giant engine outlets.
Step 6. Add a bumper sticker.

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Thu Aug 16, 2018 6:59 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
This could be interesting, especially when it comes to ship's violating "the norm" for it's faction. This is very obvious for humanity's Bennet class scoutship that have smooth curvy lines unlike the other ship's in TCA's fleet. This make me suspect that it's origin is similar to Germany's Condor long-range scoutplane used during WW2 that was used to look for allied shipping for their submarine fleet to deal with. It started out as a civilian aircraft that was choose for this role for it's range capabilities. It was not meant for military use originally.

Can it be that the Bennet also have civilian origins and it is designed with estetics in mind as well in a way a pure military design would not recive?


Sat Aug 18, 2018 9:59 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
The engines of the Bennet class don't look particularly curved to me. Only the fore section does.
That said, from what I can see of the England class silhouette, the fore section might start with a similar curved shape as well, but it quickly turns a bit blocky and bloated as you go aft.
Still, the general shape of both classes seem to share a common design to me.

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
GeoModder wrote:
The engines of the Bennet class don't look particularly curved to me. Only the fore section does.
That said, from what I can see of the England class silhouette, the fore section might start with a similar curved shape as well, but it quickly turns a bit blocky and bloated as you go aft.
Still, the general shape of both classes seem to share a common design to me.


The England class is older. Could it be that both it and the Benett have the same origin, like the same designers? Also, TCA seem to be intent to convert their Bennets to do light security work. Perhaps there is a new scoutship on the drawing board, a new design temporarily delayed by the arrival of the Orgus and need to incorporate some design aspects from them? Access to new technology from a new ally and captured enemy technology may cause even more such delays.


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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Sweforce wrote:
GeoModder wrote:
The engines of the Bennet class don't look particularly curved to me. Only the fore section does.
That said, from what I can see of the England class silhouette, the fore section might start with a similar curved shape as well, but it quickly turns a bit blocky and bloated as you go aft.
Still, the general shape of both classes seem to share a common design to me.


The England class is older. Could it be that both it and the Benett have the same origin, like the same designers? Also, TCA seem to be intent to convert their Bennets to do light security work. Perhaps there is a new scoutship on the drawing board, a new design temporarily delayed by the arrival of the Orgus and need to incorporate some design aspects from them? Access to new technology from a new ally and captured enemy technology may cause even more such delays.

Actually that sounds like what happened in Babylon 5, the Earth Alliance (the humies) had two ships with RADICAL design aesthetics: the Hyperion class Heavy Cruiser and the Omega class Destroyer.

The Hyperion's manufacturers made ships that look like submarines, but in space. The Omega's manufacturers -who already built and designed the Nova class Dreadnought (aka 'the most gun on a ship with the powerplant to match'... and everyone rightly feared this mofo)- were fans of the 'flying brick' look.


Sun Aug 19, 2018 3:28 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
I'd say that aesthetics are only something sci-fi writers consider. For "real" designers of (space) combat vessels, function is paramount. You don't build ships to look good, you build them to be powerful, well-armed and sufficiently protected. If the resulting design also pleases the eye, that's all good, but it's an unintentional by-product.

For instance, modern "stealth" ships (I mean navy ships, here on Earth) look quite cool, but not because they were supposed to look cool, but because the methods to reduce their radar cross-sectiom accidentally result in something that also looks good.


Mon Aug 20, 2018 1:53 am
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
I think form given by function is often aesthetic even without any effort to design its appearance.

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Victor_D wrote:
I'd say that aesthetics are only something sci-fi writers consider. For "real" designers of (space) combat vessels, function is paramount. You don't build ships to look good, you build them to be powerful, well-armed and sufficiently protected. If the resulting design also pleases the eye, that's all good, but it's an unintentional by-product.

For instance, modern "stealth" ships (I mean navy ships, here on Earth) look quite cool, but not because they were supposed to look cool, but because the methods to reduce their radar cross-sectiom accidentally result in something that also looks good.

I don't think it's accidental. Aesthetics and functionality are not entirely independent; combat vehicles look cool in part because they are functional. We have an inherent visual sense of what makes things dangerous, fast, or powerful.

bunnyboy wrote:
I think form given by function is often aesthetic even without any effort to design its appearance.

Essentially this, yeah.

But I think the original post is probably asking mainly about the characteristic of the ships:

GrandAdmiralFox wrote:
Now, @Arioch, you might know me as Aaron Neumann via my GMail or MisterArtMaster on DeviantArt... and I have been working on a few ideas on the side and wanted to ask you some questions, particularly on how you 'design' ships in your universe. With so many ways to design ships out there, I wanted to see how you do it so I can perfect my own.

Right now my system is a bit of a god-damned mess. I want the mass and density to be 'realistic' but I also don't want it to be completely constrained by 'realism'... if that makes sense...

The first step is to have an idea of how you want combat to play out, as this will be the most important factor to consider in the design of ships. The rules of space combat don't necessarily have to be strictly realistic, but they should be consistent. Do battles feel like naval ship to ship combat, or air to air dogfights? Do you want to give a feel of WWI/II dreadnought naval combat, or age of sail line battles, or post-WWII carrier warfare? Are battles small-scale duels between small numbers of highly maneuverable ships, or are they large-scale formation clashes between fleets of hundreds or thousands of ships? Are weapons one-shot-kill affairs, or must you hammer at the enemy to wear down his defenses? How important is position? How easy is it to engage an enemy that doesn't want to engage you? Points to consider:
  • Size of fleets
  • Modes of travel: where do battles happen?
  • Speed and maneuverability
  • Power of weapons vs. defenses
  • Effectiveness of Small Craft vs. Large Vessels
  • Effectiveness of Missiles vs. Direct-fire Weapons

In the case of Outsider, we have moderate to large fleet actions with lots of ships. The concept of strategic action is that movement is sort of analogous to timescales in WWII naval combat, in which movement of forces from one location to another takes days or weeks. The predecessor story to Outsider had struggled with a jump drive system modeled on the one used in The Mote in God's Eye in which ships used a Newtonian model and were limited to 6 G acceleration and could only cruise for long periods at 1-2 G's; this made transits take months. For Outsider, I decided to allow artificial gravity/inertial dampers and increased baseline acceleration to 30G (I think the Lewis and Clark from Event Horizon was mentioned to have that capability, and it seemed right). Battle happens on the scales of inner solar systems. I wanted a system with a mix of weapons in which the battleship was king, missiles were a significant but secondary threat, and in which small craft were used but in a niche role. Weapons do significant damage, and ships usually can't resist more than a few direct hits.

Once you have an idea what the rules of combat are, the next step is to develop tactics and doctrines for fighting. It's especially good if you can find more than one tactical doctrine that works, so that opposing sides may have some diversity in how they solve these tactical problems. Your doctrine of fighting will inform how your ships should be designed. For example, the Loroi focus on speed and offensive beam firepower, and make significant use of fighters in a defensive role. The Umiak focus on well-protected ships and powerful short-range weaponry, and use their industrial might to improve their numbers and use of expendable weaponry such as torpedoes. So Loroi ships have long sleek ships with large engines and big guns that point forward, and Umiak ships are lumpy armored chunks that bristle with short weapons that fire in all directions.

Deciding the sizes and masses of ships is a question of doing some research into the scales of real and fictional vessels, and choosing for yourself where on the curve you want to sit. Examples vary widely: many sit close to real-world naval examples (like Star Trek) in which a typical cruiser is between 200-300m in length and has a similar density to a WWII ship. Some (like Star Wars have a much grander scale in which vessels can be several kilometers long. Densities are sometimes light to reflect the limitations of accelerating mass in space, and sometimes they are very heavy to indicate the serious hardware that would be needed to generate such huge amounts of power (Babylon 5, despite its relatively realistic combat rules, had very large Terran vessels with extremely high listed densities).

Finally, a note on armament. I see a lot of fictional design in which the ships are simply encrusted with weaponry; but if you look at real combat vehicles, this is rarely the case. Weapons are usually the most expensive part of the ship, and they often have internal infrastructure requirements (power, heat management, ammunition storage and delivery, etc.), and there is usually a practical limit to how many targets one ship can be expected to engage at one time. Even if your combat rules specify lumbering battlewagons with lots of small guns, there still needs to be some kind of practical restriction on how many guns a ship can mount. Even in the age of sail when ships of the line mounted 100 guns or more, they were limited by weight and arranged in gun decks that by volume only took up a small part of the ship.

If you really want to get deep into how these systems interact, you can model them in game system (I used Star Fleet Battles and Starfire, and later Attack Vector) and simulate some battles to see what works and what doesn't. But that's probably overkill in most cases.

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Arioch wrote:
The first step is to have an idea of how you want combat to play out, as this will be the most important factor to consider in the design of ships. The rules of space combat don't necessarily have to be strictly realistic, but they should be consistent. Do battles feel like naval ship to ship combat, or air to air dogfights? Do you want to give a feel of WWI/II dreadnought naval combat, or age of sail line battles, or post-WWII carrier warfare? Are battles small-scale duels between small numbers of highly maneuverable ships, or are they large-scale formation clashes between fleets of hundreds or thousands of ships? Are weapons one-shot-kill affairs, or must you hammer at the enemy to wear down his defenses? How important is position? How easy is it to engage an enemy that doesn't want to engage you? Points to consider:
  • Size of fleets
  • Modes of travel: where do battles happen?
  • Speed and maneuverability
  • Power of weapons vs. defenses
  • Effectiveness of Small Craft vs. Large Vessels
  • Effectiveness of Missiles vs. Direct-fire Weapons

In the case of Outsider, we have moderate to large fleet actions with lots of ships. The concept of strategic action is that movement is sort of analogous to timescales in WWII naval combat, in which movement of forces from one location to another takes days or weeks. The predecessor story to Outsider had struggled with a jump drive system modeled on the one used in The Mote in God's Eye in which ships used a Newtonian model and were limited to 6 G acceleration and could only cruise for long periods at 1-2 G's; this made transits take months. For Outsider, I decided to allow artificial gravity/inertial dampers and increased baseline acceleration to 30G (I think the Lewis and Clark from Event Horizon was mentioned to have that capability, and it seemed right). Battle happens on the scales of inner solar systems. I wanted a system with a mix of weapons in which the battleship was king, missiles were a significant but secondary threat, and in which small craft were used but in a niche role. Weapons do significant damage, and ships usually can't resist more than a few direct hits.

Once you have an idea what the rules of combat are, the next step is to develop tactics and doctrines for fighting. It's especially good if you can find more than one tactical doctrine that works, so that opposing sides may have some diversity in how they solve these tactical problems. Your doctrine of fighting will inform how your ships should be designed. For example, the Loroi focus on speed and offensive beam firepower, and make significant use of fighters in a defensive role. The Umiak focus on well-protected ships and powerful short-range weaponry, and use their industrial might to improve their numbers and use of expendable weaponry such as torpedoes. So Loroi ships have long sleek ships with large engines and big guns that point forward, and Umiak ships are lumpy armored chunks that bristle with short weapons that fire in all directions.

Deciding the sizes and masses of ships is a question of doing some research into the scales of real and fictional vessels, and choosing for yourself where on the curve you want to sit. Examples vary widely: many sit close to real-world naval examples (like Star Trek) in which a typical cruiser is between 200-300m in length and has a similar density to a WWII ship. Some (like Star Wars have a much grander scale in which vessels can be several kilometers long. Densities are sometimes light to reflect the limitations of accelerating mass in space, and sometimes they are very heavy to indicate the serious hardware that would be needed to generate such huge amounts of power (Babylon 5, despite its relatively realistic combat rules, had very large Terran vessels with extremely high listed densities).

Finally, a note on armament. I see a lot of fictional design in which the ships are simply encrusted with weaponry; but if you look at real combat vehicles, this is rarely the case. Weapons are usually the most expensive part of the ship, and they often have internal infrastructure requirements (power, heat management, ammunition storage and delivery, etc.), and there is usually a practical limit to how many targets one ship can be expected to engage at one time. Even if your combat rules specify lumbering battlewagons with lots of small guns, there still needs to be some kind of practical restriction on how many guns a ship can mount. Even in the age of sail when ships of the line mounted 100 guns or more, they were limited by weight and arranged in gun decks that by volume only took up a small part of the ship.

If you really want to get deep into how these systems interact, you can model them in game system (I used Star Fleet Battles and Starfire, and later Attack Vector) and simulate some battles to see what works and what doesn't. But that's probably overkill in most cases.

Thanks for the insight.

Now in Spacebattles, this little tadbit is interesting as it pertains to ship velocity and travel time between Earth and the moon (some 400k km)... taken right out of a Battletech rulebook if I'm not mistaken:
Quote:
.15Gs: 9.4 hours (jumpship)
1G: 3.55 hours
1.5G: 2.9 hours
2G: 2.51 hours
3G: 2.05 hours
4G: 1.775 hours
5G: 1.6 hours (some assault dropships reach this speed)
6G: 1.45 hours
7G: 1.34 hours
8G: 1.25 hours
10Gs: 1.12 hours

So, that would be a few days in terms of crossing dozens of AU with 1 measly G if assuming constant acceleration if this is right... which is pretty slow from a space combat standpoint.

EDIT: at only 5 gravities, that means going from the Sun to Jupiter will take something on the order of 5 hours.


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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
GrandAdmiralFox wrote:
Now in Spacebattles, this little tadbit is interesting as it pertains to ship velocity and travel time between Earth and the moon (some 400k km)... taken right out of a Battletech rulebook if I'm not mistaken:
Quote:
.15Gs: 9.4 hours (jumpship)
1G: 3.55 hours
1.5G: 2.9 hours
2G: 2.51 hours
3G: 2.05 hours
4G: 1.775 hours
5G: 1.6 hours (some assault dropships reach this speed)
6G: 1.45 hours
7G: 1.34 hours
8G: 1.25 hours
10Gs: 1.12 hours

So, that would be a few days in terms of crossing dozens of AU with 1 measly G if assuming constant acceleration if this is right... which is pretty slow from a space combat standpoint.

EDIT: at only 5 gravities, that means going from the Sun to Jupiter will take something on the order of 5 hours.

That table looks right, but I think you're off with the Sun to Jupiter estimate.

time = sqrt( 2 x distance / acceleration )

If you assume that you are going to accelerate towards the target, turn around at the halfway point, and decelerate the rest of the way, then:

time in hours = ( 2 x sqrt( (distance in km x 1000) / ( acceleration in G's x 9.8 ) ) / 3600 s

Image

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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
Arioch wrote:
GrandAdmiralFox wrote:
Now in Spacebattles, this little tadbit is interesting as it pertains to ship velocity and travel time between Earth and the moon (some 400k km)... taken right out of a Battletech rulebook if I'm not mistaken:
Quote:
.15Gs: 9.4 hours (jumpship)
1G: 3.55 hours
1.5G: 2.9 hours
2G: 2.51 hours
3G: 2.05 hours
4G: 1.775 hours
5G: 1.6 hours (some assault dropships reach this speed)
6G: 1.45 hours
7G: 1.34 hours
8G: 1.25 hours
10Gs: 1.12 hours

So, that would be a few days in terms of crossing dozens of AU with 1 measly G if assuming constant acceleration if this is right... which is pretty slow from a space combat standpoint.

EDIT: at only 5 gravities, that means going from the Sun to Jupiter will take something on the order of 5 hours.

That table looks right, but I think you're off with the Sun to Jupiter estimate.

time = sqrt( 2 x distance / acceleration )

If you assume that you are going to accelerate towards the target, turn around at the halfway point, and decelerate the rest of the way, then:

time in hours = ( 2 x sqrt( (distance in km x 1000) / ( acceleration in G's x 9.8 ) ) / 3600 s

Image

Huh... must of missed a decimal or something... :? The link I posted had time equals square root of two times distance divided by acceleration, with time being days...


Sun Sep 09, 2018 6:05 pm
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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
hi hi

In Outsider, I imagine it is a little bit easier, since ships tend to accelerate to their top "safe" velocity, then coast most of the way. Once you figure out the acceleration profile, you can tack that onto the front of the journey, then use the cruising velocity for the rest. (relativistic micrometeors can definitely ruin someone's day.)

Makes me wonder if the Umiak are more likely to use higher cruising velocities.

---

On the topic of number of guns, not only are there design considerations that prevent having too many guns -the aforementioned power/heat/ammo/etc. - there are also design considerations that favor a smaller number of guns.
• If armor is a major concern, a vehicle/craft as a weapons platform will generally want to have a smaller number of more powerful weapons rather than a larger number of less damaging weapons, so long as materials allow it.
• If accuracy is a major concern, whether due to light speed lag or primitive fire control systems, then maintaining a low target profile is also a major concern.
• Redundant weapon systems are nice to have, but they tend to come at the expense of peak combat effectiveness, so there's a balancing act in there somewhere. (Drop tanks may provide invaluable range, but when it is time to dog fight, you can believe they're going to get dropped.)


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Post Re: How do you 'design' a ship in Outsider-verse
icekatze wrote:
hi hi

In Outsider, I imagine it is a little bit easier, since ships tend to accelerate to their top "safe" velocity, then coast most of the way. Once you figure out the acceleration profile, you can tack that onto the front of the journey, then use the cruising velocity for the rest. (relativistic micrometeors can definitely ruin someone's day.)

Makes me wonder if the Umiak are more likely to use higher cruising velocities.

---

On the topic of number of guns, not only are there design considerations that prevent having too many guns -the aforementioned power/heat/ammo/etc. - there are also design considerations that favor a smaller number of guns.
• If armor is a major concern, a vehicle/craft as a weapons platform will generally want to have a smaller number of more powerful weapons rather than a larger number of less damaging weapons, so long as materials allow it.
• If accuracy is a major concern, whether due to light speed lag or primitive fire control systems, then maintaining a low target profile is also a major concern.
• Redundant weapon systems are nice to have, but they tend to come at the expense of peak combat effectiveness, so there's a balancing act in there somewhere. (Drop tanks may provide invaluable range, but when it is time to dog fight, you can believe they're going to get dropped.)

The system that I'm currently building puts more emphasis on volume than mass. Something like 20% of the vessel's volume is taken up on heat sinks (with hull and engine radiators being part of the hull and engines respectively) and power plants, another 20% of the volume on engines (including FTL) and fuel supplies. So there goes 2/5ths of the ship's volume right then and there.


Sun Sep 09, 2018 7:24 pm
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