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Old 03-29-2013, 02:11 PM   #41
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Sunrunners_Fire View Post
Can you link us to a working example in popular media of what you're looking for?
Pretty much all depictions of sci-fi in popular media? Would you like some youtube links?

Mass Effect is a game where even sniper rifles seldom fire farther than 100 yards, and most fights take place within visual distance, like any shooter game. Star Wars works the same way, with character trading potshots at pisol ranges, and even when they have massive, overland battles, they have them a WWI or WWII ranges. Star Trek also tends to have personal fights within visual range. Warhammer 40k gets silly with its ranges, and thus the tabletop game probably isn't suitable for our purposes, but the computer games based on it, like Space Marine, also takes place with combat at visual range (and Warhammer 40k is meant to be WWI IN SPAAACE).

My latest source of inspiration, Warframe, does a pretty good job of what I'm talking about. They're clearly in highly advanced power armor of some kind (anything from a commando battlesuit up to a warsuit, depending on how you see it), with advanced and cool weaponry that the game tends to treat as powers. Their weapons of choice are: Pistols, rifles, shotguns, sniper rifles and melee weapons, thus they're highly advanced super-warriors who regularly fight at pistol range.

I can't actually think of any well-known sci-fi that actually has the push-button warfare you'd tend to see at Ultra-Tech TLs of 10+. If you follow the natural evolution of that warfare, you run into some of the problems people talk about here.

So let's see if I can paint you a picture: It's a world where people go to other worlds in spaceships and then take highly elite soldiers/jedi/tenno/space marines and send them into battle, rather than just nuke crap from orbit, nor do they send drones in (and if they send drones in, the drones are considered disposable, while the elites are considered, well, elite). These elite warriors represent, for whatever reason, the pinnacle of technology and often have very expensive toys at their disposal. The nature of these toys vary from setting to setting, but they're always very cool and they're always iconic to the setting (the jedi with their lightsabers and the force, space marines with their power armor and their bolters, tenno with their warframes, solders of Mass Effect with their armor and their set of four weapons and possibly biotic powers and engineering toys). These elites then engage their enemies at a close enough range that they can physically see their opponents. An elite might try to keep his range and snipe people, stay at middle range and use a combination of assault rifle, submachine gun, shotgun or pistol to defeat his foes, or he might close range and attack his foes with melee weapons (light sabers, space katanas or chainswords, or just punch them as in Mass Effect). The battles are terribly flashy and exciting, the player in the battle is always worried that his character might die, and feels awesome as he mows down lots of bad guys (possibly said disposable drones).

This, as opposed to a much more sensible approach of mounting up your War Bot with IQ 10 (doable at TL 10), then a missile launcher with mini-nukes (for when you want them super-dead), ETK sniper-rifles (for when you want something very precisely dead and you want very little collateral damage) and some kind of stunning weapon (for when you want to take your enemy alive), and sending wave after wave of these perfectly sensible warbots to fight your enemy for you.

How do you justify action heroes in space? How do you justify battles that are face to face, as opposed to much more strategic struggles of "My nanofac is producing Warbots faster than his nanofac!"?

This is, frankly, less of a tactical concern and more of a world-building concern. While I doubt my players will up and ask why robots can't go into battle in their place while they lounge around drinking space-cola all day, but I'd still like to understand what persuades a TL 10+ civilization to put valuable, PC-like heroes on the front lines of whatever battle, special ops, or secret mission they have.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:23 PM   #42
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
How do you justify action heroes in space? How do you justify battles that are face to face, as opposed to much more strategic struggles of "My nanofac is producing Warbots faster than his nanofac!"?
I think a big problem is that in games where the focus is on the first-person action, you don't get to see much in the way of infrastructure works. And in games with a strategic element, you do see nanofacs producing units again and again.

The only game which at least tries to describe the strategic side of things in any reasonable level of detail, while focusing on third-person action - Mass Effect - is essentially 99% SpecOps, so of course it's all about situations where deploying more than a dozen warbots is not an option. (And Shepard doesn't afraid [sic] a dozen warbots.)
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:39 PM   #43
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
[...]

This, as opposed to a much more sensible approach of mounting up your War Bot with IQ 10 (doable at TL 10), then a missile launcher with mini-nukes (for when you want them super-dead), ETK sniper-rifles (for when you want something very precisely dead and you want very little collateral damage) and some kind of stunning weapon (for when you want to take your enemy alive), and sending wave after wave of these perfectly sensible warbots to fight your enemy for you.

How do you justify action heroes in space? How do you justify battles that are face to face, as opposed to much more strategic struggles of "My nanofac is producing Warbots faster than his nanofac!"?

This is, frankly, less of a tactical concern and more of a world-building concern. While I doubt my players will up and ask why robots can't go into battle in their place while they lounge around drinking space-cola all day, but I'd still like to understand what persuades a TL 10+ civilization to put valuable, PC-like heroes on the front lines of whatever battle, special ops, or secret mission they have.
Indeed this last part is a world building concern, since depending on how IQ 10 works (and how much self-awareness is needed) these IQ 10+ warbots might not be as easily replaceable as pumping them out of nano-facs (for example maybe the neural net they are running on is not (easily) copieable and they need to learn just as humans do) and might be characters in their own right, or it might be that the IQ 10+ robots are that more expensive then well trained (and maybe gen enhanced) humans, or it might be that AI is forbidden by intergalactic treaty (like in mass effect or in Dune). Now of course the above are only examples and I bet you can come up with many more then I just did in this short time.

What this leaves is why the humans on the ground don't use these long ranges weapons and/or nukes. I think the first step is to get rid of tele-operated drones more useful then the drones we have right now (at TL8), part of this is to have no easy FTL communications (limiting range) and adding better radio jamming, so for communications we are left with laser which needs line of sight. The next step is to make sure most if not all combats take place in place with limited line of sight* (think dense forests, urban, certain types of factory complexes, etc). The last step is a reason why that forest, city, factory complex is not nuked from orbit and this can be civilian presence, needed infrastructure, need to exfiltrate important personnel or even again intergalactic treaty.

I know this is a repeat from my previous posts, but I hope this is somewhat clearer that I indeed mend mostly world building types of solutions. Also note that in my mind high IQ AI can be used as characters in their own right (think Legion and EDI from Mass Effect, the R2-D2/C3P0 from Star Wars, Data from ST:NG, the Doctor from ST:V, etc)

*Although it might be fun once in a while what the ultra tech equipment is truly capable of
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:40 PM   #44
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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I think a big problem is that in games where the focus is on the first-person action, you don't get to see much in the way of infrastructure works. And in games with a strategic element, you do see nanofacs producing units again and again.

The only game which at least tries to describe the strategic side of things in any reasonable level of detail, while focusing on third-person action - Mass Effect - is essentially 99% SpecOps, so of course it's all about situations where deploying more than a dozen warbots is not an option. (And Shepard doesn't afraid [sic] a dozen warbots.)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Shepard optionally a military hero at the beginning of the game and, while I have yet to play ME3 after all its bad reviews, doesn't he lead armies of sentients into war? The ME3 universe doesn't generally make use of warbots outside of a few really lame drones, though the setting explains that by having all the volitional warbots turn on their masters.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:44 PM   #45
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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I know this is a repeat from my previous posts, but I hope this is somewhat clearer that I indeed mend mostly world building types of solutions.
Well, I was repeating my concerns because someone asked, but I think the thread has already come up with quite some solutions:
  • Have excellent jamming in place, making extremely long-range attacks difficult
  • Have some kind of shielding that makes long range attacks (especially orbital attacks) difficult or impossible
  • Reduce the effectiveness of AI, remove it completely, or make it as precious as humans
  • Have your fights primarily in cluttered areas, like forests, cities and the interior of spaceships, not on featureless plains.
  • Have social pressures that remove the ability to use massive destruction against your foes

I have no real reason not to use mini-nukes and anti-matter rounds, though, outside of social pressures, which just means the bad guys are more likely to nuke people. I suppose I could introduce nuclear dampers.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:52 PM   #46
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Shepard optionally a military hero at the beginning of the game and, while I have yet to play ME3 after all its bad reviews, doesn't he lead armies of sentients into war? The ME3 universe doesn't generally make use of warbots outside of a few really lame drones, though the setting explains that by having all the volitional warbots turn on their masters.
He sort of leads the big (well, as big as was possible to land) ground offensive in the end of the game. But of course there are some problems and screw-ups, and you end up playing all combat scenes with just your friends and you on the 'good' side and a wave of mooks intermixed with more serious opponents on the 'evil' side (by now I'd say the Reapers are acting out of WellIntentionedExtremism rather than ForTehEvulz; almost like the Kzer-Za, even).

You get some fire support when you meet some in-combat triggers, but that's about it. You don't even get to shoot out of your cool ATV like you did in ME1.

And if ME doesn't use warbots, then just what are e.g. the Colossi?
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:55 PM   #47
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't Shepard optionally a military hero at the beginning of the game and, while I have yet to play ME3 after all its bad reviews, doesn't he lead armies of sentients into war? The ME3 universe doesn't generally make use of warbots outside of a few really lame drones, though the setting explains that by having all the volitional warbots turn on their masters.
Geth, being a bunch of infomorphs, as far as I can tell do use armies of mass-produced sentient warbots.

Other than that, yeah, everything is manned. And there are space fighters.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:55 PM   #48
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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Originally Posted by Mailanka View Post
I have no real reason not to use mini-nukes and anti-matter rounds, though, outside of social pressures, which just means the bad guys are more likely to nuke people. I suppose I could introduce nuclear dampers.
Or make nukes and antimatter extremely difficult to get, which they pretty well have to be.
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Old 03-29-2013, 02:57 PM   #49
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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[...]

I have no real reason not to use mini-nukes and anti-matter rounds, though, outside of social pressures, which just means the bad guys are more likely to nuke people. I suppose I could introduce nuclear dampers.
I am wondering if that is such a bad thing there are quite a lot of movies/books/tv shows about bad guys willing to use weapons of mass destruction and the heroes trying to stop them (often involving a race of time).

Also note that bad-guys still might need infrastructure (you don't blow up the mine/refinery/space port you want to use) or have important personnel they need to exfiltrate before they nuke the place.

On the other hand nuclear dampers work, so it depends.
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Old 03-29-2013, 03:00 PM   #50
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Default Re: [Ultra Tech] Shortening Range

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  • Reduce the effectiveness of AI, remove it completely, or make it as precious as humans
Or you can make Complexity scale non-linearly. That way you can get AIs on stationary computers, but not on drones. This also helps cut down on the intelligence of homing missiles and other micro-thinkies. Good for a retro feel.
(For the record, S has exactly one AI in the whole setting, and no player complained so far. OTOH, a single player did complain about not being able to trivially get a voice-to-text + translation software into a setting's high-end laptop. Life's hard.)

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  • Have social pressures that remove the ability to use massive destruction against your foes

I have no real reason not to use mini-nukes and anti-matter rounds, though, outside of social pressures, which just means the bad guys are more likely to nuke people. I suppose I could introduce nuclear dampers.
Or you can abandon nukes entirely. Again, I have no nukes or nuke-equivalents in S, and nobody complained. Having no nuclear power plants does result in a somewhat weird infrastructure for a world where extracting fossil fuels is a thing of the past, but life goes on.
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