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Offline Banedon

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I've been slowly playing my way through the various user-made campaigns, and my impressions so far has been strongly positive - the amount of work that has gone into them is evident, and the campaigns are fun. Thanks for making them.

One major thing that irked me while playing is that the physics & astronomy that went into the campaigns are pretty bad. Yes, Freespace itself suspends physics; a real-life subspace drive would mean faster-than-light travel and bring to fore all manner of paradoxes. But we don't have to suspend everything, and some semi-arbitrary choices can be made believable. I have some expertise at physics & astronomy, so if anyone wants to check if their campaigns are plausible, feel free to ask. I can't guarantee everything I say will be completely accurate, but it should still be an improvement.

Examples of things I've noticed:

1) Capella supernova: this is not plausible (unfortunately it's also canon). That's because stars are way way way more massive than anything we can realistically affect. For example the Sun is 2x10^30 kg, while the Earth is only 6x10^24. We would need a million Earths to make something as big as the Sun, and there simply isn't enough material. A giant fleet of Sathanases probably still won't even reach the mass of the Earth. The Sun also outputs 10^26 J of energy every second. That's 10 billion times greater than the largest nuke ever detonated. There's no plausible way for us to cause the Sun or Capella to go supernova, unless we did something like collide another star with it (which is plausible, given enough time, using gravitational attraction).

Another thing is that Capella is ~2 solar masses, which is well below the threshold necessary to go supernova (~8 solar masses). However Capella is big enough to go nova, which is distinct from a supernova because it leads to the formation of a white dwarf as opposed to a black hole / neutron star. Left to its own devices, the order of magnitude of time taken for a star of Capella's size to go nova is several billion years.

2) Returning to Sol: the distance from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star to Earth, is 4.3 light years. This means that if Alpha Centauri is colonized, we should be able to send light-speed signals to Earth that arrive in 4.3 years. The return trip takes another 4.3 years, which means that communication is still possible without subspace drives - it just take 8.6 years to hear back from the other party. To actually visit Earth is harder, because real spaceships travel at much slower than light speed. The fastest ships in Freespace seem to move at ~100 m/s, at which point it'd take 12 million years for a ship to get from Alpha Centauri to Earth.

There's no easy way to solve this plot hole unfortunately, because we (2017 humans) have been communicating with light-speed signals for decades, and I imagine one of the first things people would do after the subspace node was destroyed will be to send light-speed signals back and forth. Not ideal but better than nothing.

3) Blue Planet (Wounded Prey): if I remember right, this was the mission in which you chase the Duke while your wingmen warp in to who-knows-where. One of them says he showed up 10 light years away. As with the analysis above, that's not believable. 10 light years is more than the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri. It also means that the wingman would not be able to communicate, since any signals he sends takes 10 years to arrive. A more plausible distance is 1 astronomical unit, i.e. the distance between the Earth and the Sun, but even at this distance light takes 8 minutes to travel. Even more plausible is the distance between the Earth and the Moon - about 360,000 km. Light only takes one second to travel this distance, but for all intents and purposes, the wingman still won't be able to get to the Duke.

4) Ancient-Shivan War: I don't remember the exact mission but at one point a pilot comments that they're looking at ___ galaxy, and somewhere out there is their home. This is problematic because galaxies are big, and they are very far away. The Milky Way (our galaxy) is ~140,000 light years across, and contains some ~200 billion stars. If the Ancients are able to colonize the entire Milky Way, losing a single battle to the Shivans would be practically inconsequential, and they'd have plenty of time to build more ships, develop new technologies, etc. Another problem with this comment is that it implies the Ancient-Shivan War was an intergalactic war (as opposed to interstellar). The order of magnitude distance between galaxies is about 1 megaparsec, which is about 3 million light years. Travelling this distance would be formidably hard.

5) Finally, about technology: life on Earth has existed for over 3 billion years, and it's only in the past several hundred years that we've actually had firearms. If there is sentient life out there, they are not likely to be at a technologically comparable level. In other words, if we do go to war with an alien species, it's overwhelmingly likely that it would be like us vs. ants: one side wipes the other out without even trying. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for a good story but what to do :doubt:

If anyone has anything they want to check, feel free to ask!

 
1 seems to make the assumption that Terrans are the ones causing the supernova (the repeated use of 'we' which could only imply humanity), and you seem to have forgotten that it wasn't us it was the Shivans that did it. We really haven't the slightest clue as to how they did it, which was part of the point, so it's silly to to attempt to dissect the possibility of the act when we don't know what the methods are. Nobody would argue that isn't well beyond any Terran method. And also Capella is below the threshold to supernova naturally, and I don't think anyone would describe Capella's supernova as "natural".

And 3 seems to completely forget that everyone has instantaneous FTL communication in Freespace. It's clearly used in nearly every mission so I'm not sure how you missed that one.

 

Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Regarding point 2, Blue Planet actually references lightspeed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri.
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schrödinbug (noun) - a bug that manifests itself in running software after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.

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<MageKing17> "There's probably a reason the code is the way it is" is a very dangerous line of thought. :P
<MageKing17> Because the "reason" often turns out to be "nobody noticed it was wrong".
(the very next day)
<MageKing17> this ****ing code did it to me again
<MageKing17> "That doesn't really make sense to me, but I'll assume it was being done for a reason."
<MageKing17> **** ME
<MageKing17> THE REASON IS PEOPLE ARE STUPID
<MageKing17> ESPECIALLY ME

<MageKing17> God damn, I do not understand how this is breaking.
<MageKing17> Everything points to "this should work fine", and yet it's clearly not working.
<MjnMixael> 2 hours later... "God damn, how did this ever work at all?!"
(...)
<MageKing17> so
<MageKing17> more than two hours
<MageKing17> but once again we have reached the inevitable conclusion
<MageKing17> How did this code ever work in the first place!?

<@The_E> Welcome to OpenGL, where standards compliance is optional, and error reporting inconsistent

<MageKing17> It was all working perfectly until I actually tried it on an actual mission.

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* z64555 erases "Thursday" and rewrites it in red ink

<MageKing17> TIL the entire homing code is held up by shoestrings and duct tape, basically.

 

Offline Aesaar

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1) Capella supernova: this is not plausible (unfortunately it's also canon). That's because stars are way way way more massive than anything we can realistically affect. For example the Sun is 2x10^30 kg, while the Earth is only 6x10^24. We would need a million Earths to make something as big as the Sun, and there simply isn't enough material. A giant fleet of Sathanases probably still won't even reach the mass of the Earth. The Sun also outputs 10^26 J of energy every second. That's 10 billion times greater than the largest nuke ever detonated. There's no plausible way for us to cause the Sun or Capella to go supernova, unless we did something like collide another star with it (which is plausible, given enough time, using gravitational attraction).

Another thing is that Capella is ~2 solar masses, which is well below the threshold necessary to go supernova (~8 solar masses). However Capella is big enough to go nova, which is distinct from a supernova because it leads to the formation of a white dwarf as opposed to a black hole / neutron star. Left to its own devices, the order of magnitude of time taken for a star of Capella's size to go nova is several billion years.
Like Ralwood said, the Shivans did it, and the Shivans technologically outclass humanity by a considerable degree.


Quote
5) Finally, about technology: life on Earth has existed for over 3 billion years, and it's only in the past several hundred years that we've actually had firearms. If there is sentient life out there, they are not likely to be at a technologically comparable level. In other words, if we do go to war with an alien species, it's overwhelmingly likely that it would be like us vs. ants: one side wipes the other out without even trying. Unfortunately that doesn't allow for a good story but what to do :doubt:
IDK, Freespace 2 and Blue Planet managed it.

 

Offline Banedon

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There is no conceivable way the Shivans can cause a supernova either. It is just not believable. Just count how many Sathanas juggernauts will be needed to come to 1% of the mass of the Sun, or how much energy they must emit to come to 1% of the energy the Sun produces every second. To actually cause the Sun to go nova requires way way way more resources than the Shivans could conceivably field. To put in some numbers, assuming each Sathanas were a billion kilograms, it would still take ten billion billion billion Sathanas juggernauts to come to 1% of the Sun's mass. A fleet that size would have literally no trouble annihilating the GTVA (how many systems does the GTVA control anyway - less than 50?). At one Sathanas per second, it would also take billions upon billions of years to get all those Sathanases into the Capella system.

Also for comparison the Lucifer bombarding Vasuda Prime wiped out the surface, but did not blow the planet to pieces (something that would still have taken less energy than causing the Sun to go nova).

As for FTL communication - I'm under the impression that in the FS world, aside from intersystem jumps, communication occurs at light speed. Communication within a system at light speed is plausible. It takes several hours for light to reach Neptune, the outermost Solar System planet, which is short enough to make coordinating a fleet plausible.

Quote from: Aesaar
IDK, Freespace 2 and Blue Planet managed it.
They also assumed three (four in Blue Planet's case) spacefaring races that were actually pretty close in technological capabilities. GTVA vs Shivans was nowhere near as imbalanced as humans vs. ants. Unfortunately in the humans vs. ants scenario there's just no story to tell, because everything would either be utterly futile or stupidly easy.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 02:04:41 am by Banedon »

 

Offline General Battuta

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Humans have significantly lower odds against BP's Shivans than ants do versus humans. By like...a mind-boggling order of magnitude. Ants might have a good run at wiping out humans, I expect; at the very least the odds are non-zero.

Quote
3) Blue Planet (Wounded Prey): if I remember right, this was the mission in which you chase the Duke while your wingmen warp in to who-knows-where. One of them says he showed up 10 light years away. As with the analysis above, that's not believable. 10 light years is more than the distance from Earth to Alpha Centauri. It also means that the wingman would not be able to communicate, since any signals he sends takes 10 years to arrive. A more plausible distance is 1 astronomical unit, i.e. the distance between the Earth and the Sun, but even at this distance light takes 8 minutes to travel. Even more plausible is the distance between the Earth and the Moon - about 360,000 km. Light only takes one second to travel this distance, but for all intents and purposes, the wingman still won't be able to get to the Duke.

The point is not that Corey is 10 light years away but that his navigational systems are ****ed.

The Shivans destroy Capella with a subspace weapon. In much the same way that an atomic weapon can get a preposterous amount of energy from a small amount of matter, their mastery of subspace lets them disrupt the star until it goes supernova without needing to actuate the ordinary dynamics of a core collapse. The mass of the Sathanas fleet is as irrelevant, since presumably whatever they are doing relies on the dynamics of subspace.
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 02:12:26 am by General Battuta »

 

Offline The E

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There is no conceivable way the Shivans can cause a supernova either. It is just not believable. Just count how many Sathanas juggernauts will be needed to come to 1% of the mass of the Sun, or how much energy they must emit to come to 1% of the energy the Sun produces every second. To actually cause the Sun to go nova requires way way way more resources than the Shivans could conceivably field. To put in some numbers, assuming each Sathanas were a billion kilograms, it would still take ten billion billion billion Sathanas juggernauts to come to 1% of the Sun's mass. A fleet that size would have literally no trouble annihilating the GTVA (how many systems does the GTVA control anyway - less than 50?). At one Sathanas per second, it would also take billions upon billions of years to get all those Sathanases into the Capella system.

Do you have a degree in advanced shivan science?

The problem here is that you're looking at FS and FS2 through a hard SF lens, when neither game was written to be hard SF. It's like trying to argue that Star Wars is bad because there's no way that the Death Star can generate enough energy to overcome the gravitational binding energy of a planet, or no way to make light sabers that interact with each other like metal sabers would. The Shivans are able to turn Capella into a supernova. That's a fact of the FS universe. How they manage to do that is unknown, and in storytelling terms, doesn't matter; It's not an inconsistency or flaw that needs correction.

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As for FTL communication - I'm under the impression that in the FS world, aside from intersystem jumps, communication occurs at light speed. Communication within a system at light speed is plausible. It takes several hours for light to reach Neptune, the outermost Solar System planet, which is short enough to make coordinating a fleet plausible.

This is wrong. During FS2, Command is always able to communicate with us, even if the ship he is presumably on is in an entirely different system.
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Offline AdmiralRalwood

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Like Ralwood said, the Shivans did it, and the Shivans technologically outclass humanity by a considerable degree.
That was Asteroth (not that I disagree).
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schrödinbug (noun) - a bug that manifests itself in running software after a programmer notices that the code should never have worked in the first place.

When you gaze long into BMPMAN, BMPMAN also gazes into you.

"I am one of the best FREDders on Earth" -General Battuta

<Aesaar> literary criticism is vladimir putin

<MageKing17> "There's probably a reason the code is the way it is" is a very dangerous line of thought. :P
<MageKing17> Because the "reason" often turns out to be "nobody noticed it was wrong".
(the very next day)
<MageKing17> this ****ing code did it to me again
<MageKing17> "That doesn't really make sense to me, but I'll assume it was being done for a reason."
<MageKing17> **** ME
<MageKing17> THE REASON IS PEOPLE ARE STUPID
<MageKing17> ESPECIALLY ME

<MageKing17> God damn, I do not understand how this is breaking.
<MageKing17> Everything points to "this should work fine", and yet it's clearly not working.
<MjnMixael> 2 hours later... "God damn, how did this ever work at all?!"
(...)
<MageKing17> so
<MageKing17> more than two hours
<MageKing17> but once again we have reached the inevitable conclusion
<MageKing17> How did this code ever work in the first place!?

<@The_E> Welcome to OpenGL, where standards compliance is optional, and error reporting inconsistent

<MageKing17> It was all working perfectly until I actually tried it on an actual mission.

<IronWorks> I am useful for FSO stuff again. This is a red-letter day!
* z64555 erases "Thursday" and rewrites it in red ink

<MageKing17> TIL the entire homing code is held up by shoestrings and duct tape, basically.

 

Offline karajorma

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To be honest, I don't consider sending a 100km iron asteroid into the core of the sun to be beyond anything we could expect from 80 Sathanases. Nor would removing a similar volume from the core seem to be beyond them. I'm not familiar with astrophysics enough to know if either would actually cause a supernova but I can't imagine either of them being good for the star.

And that's without them having some kind of subspace weapon we haven't seen before.
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Offline Banedon

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Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

The atomic weapons idea doesn't work either (for reference stars by definition undergo atomic processes at their core, which is why they output so much energy). I'm nonetheless talking in terms of mass because the plausible power output of a weapon is capped by its mass. Seriously, run some numbers: the Sun produces 10^26 joules per second. By E = mc^2, the total amount of mass needed is 1.1 billion kg, assuming you are able to convert ALL of that into energy (real nuclear weapons reach yields significantly less than this). An iron cube of that mass would be ~138 km long, which is way longer than the Colossus. Simply sending an asteroid into the Sun will not work; asteroids already fall into the Sun with regularity and our Sun hasn't gone nova. You could send the entire Earth into the Sun and nothing would happen. Further note that a supernova can outshine an entire galaxy for a brief instant.

The "easiest" way to get the Sun to go nova is to dump mass on it. The more massive the Sun gets, the higher pressure its core comes under, and the more luminous it needs to be to balance gravity. Eventually it reaches a tipping point and goes nova. You need to dump a lot of mass however, on the order of magnitude of the Sun's mass itself. That's why I mentioned that the most realistic way to do it is to collide another star with it. This can conceivably be done over thousands upon millions of years: in our case for example, we put a big mass in between us and Alpha Centauri, and gradually (g-r-a-d-u-a-l-l-y, since Alpha Centauri is more massive than the biggest mass we can conceivably use, which is the mass of Earth) pull Alpha Centauri into the Sun.

FS2 is set up in a world that's already not realistic since it has subspace portals. But like I wrote in the OP - one can pick more realistic values. Corey could've been 300k km away instead of 10 light years. It's up to the designer. If you're designing and don't care, that's fine. If you care, then feel free to ask whatever you want.

 

Offline The E

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Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

A single ant vs a single human is not a fight.

Ants vs humans would be.

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If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

There's something you missed here. Corey says that his instruments put him 10 ly away, not that he actually is 10 ly away. The implication here is that his instruments are malfunctioning, not that he travelled that far.
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Offline karajorma

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This is wrong. During FS2, Command is always able to communicate with us, even if the ship he is presumably on is in an entirely different system.

That's not quite true. In Into The Lion's Den command isn't able to communicate with you. That suggests that either a Terran comm system couldn't be fitted in the Mara or that some sort of relay is required and that the Aquitaine or Psamtic usually served in that role.

But yes, I agree that except for that occasion, Terran Command is always able to communicate with you, even in missions like Mystery of the Trinity where the Aquitaine is the only capital ship in the nebula. And the idea that Terran Command are somehow moving around from capship to capship so that they are always in a position to communicate with the player tends to stretch credulity.
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Offline Banedon

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Ants can't even damage humans. Humans in Blue Planet can kill Shivans.

A single ant vs a single human is not a fight.

Ants vs humans would be.

Quote
If Corey were 10 light years away he would not be able to communicate since signals take 10 years to travel. He wouldn't even know which way to send the signals in.

There's something you missed here. Corey says that his instruments put him 10 ly away, not that he actually is 10 ly away. The implication here is that his instruments are malfunctioning, not that he travelled that far.

How many ants does it take to kill a human in an F-16? How many F-16s can humanity field? I rest my case.

Quote from: karajorma
But yes, I agree that except for that occasion, Terran Command is always able to communicate with you, even in missions like Mystery of the Trinity where the Aquitaine is the only capital ship in the nebula. And the idea that Terran Command are somehow moving around from capship to capship so that they are always in a position to communicate with the player tends to stretch credulity.

It's also conceivable Terran command (at least within the nebula) isn't on a capital ship. Military history is not within my expertise, but it's plausible that command would prefer a ship with advanced communication abilities, not a heavily armored, heavy-firepower capital ship that would be in the thick of fighting and so can be destroyed.

 

Offline karajorma

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Are you really claiming that Terran Command are on a different ship in Mystery of the Trinity? Cause if they are, where the hell is it? Why is it never mentioned? And why aren't they scared that the Shivans will blow it up given that it's definitely nowhere near the Aquitaine, the only ship that can send help if it is attacked?

I'm sorry but there comes a point where it's only sensible to assume that the GTVA do have FTL comms.
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Offline DefCynodont119

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In regards to 4,
Hidden Text: Show

4) Ancient-Shivan War: I don't remember the exact mission but at one point a pilot comments that they're looking at ___ galaxy, and somewhere out there is their home. This is problematic because galaxies are big, and they are very far away. The Milky Way (our galaxy) is ~140,000 light years across, and contains some ~200 billion stars. If the Ancients are able to colonize the entire Milky Way, losing a single battle to the Shivans would be practically inconsequential, and they'd have plenty of time to build more ships, develop new technologies, etc. Another problem with this comment is that it implies the Ancient-Shivan War was an intergalactic war (as opposed to interstellar). The order of magnitude distance between galaxies is about 1 megaparsec, which is about 3 million light years. Travelling this distance would be formidably hard.

It's heavily implied that the Ancients are super arrogant and don't really control the entire galaxy, furthermore, It's specifically stated that that system (Verbeck I think) is in a star cluster just barely outside the Milky Way's plane.

Think of how the Galactic Terran Alliance only claims like, 20 or so stars, but they still call themselves Galactic! I think it's the same with the Ancients.

In the mission, the Ancients specifically call themselves intergalactic because they visited one star cluster.  This is like me saying humanity is an interstellar civilization right now only because Voyager is outside the heliopause boundary- or that I'm an expert chef because I made cereal one time-

It's Ridiculous Exaggeration, but based on the Ancients behavior in other briefings and in missions, I don't think it's beyond their personalty to exaggerate about other stuff. And if that's the degree to which they do so, it safe to assume that they don't actually control more then a few hundred stars- if not only a dozen or so.  :rolleyes:

I don't mean to tear you apart on this, I agree that HLP could really benefit from an Astronomy lesson or two.  ;7  the no Alpha Centauri - Sol contact thing drives me nuts. Freespace isn't very consistent in how hard/soft of sci-fi it is. *shurg*


It's not bad or wrong to call out soft sci-fi for being soft sci-fi, it's a good way to educate people about get them excited about science and space! (so long as you are not a jerk about it)
« Last Edit: December 14, 2017, 04:10:47 am by DefCynodont119 »
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Offline DefCynodont119

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Oh and the GTVA does have FTL Comms, but that just makes the entire "No Sol communication" thing worse, (why are FTL comms down?) (do they need subspace?) (If so, why can't they still just use radio and wait 4-8 years?)
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Offline The E

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And that's not so much an inconsistency as it is a storytelling opportunity. Obviously something happened in sol or alpha centauri, so why not try to tell that story?
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Offline Banedon

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Are you really claiming that Terran Command are on a different ship in Mystery of the Trinity? Cause if they are, where the hell is it? Why is it never mentioned? And why aren't they scared that the Shivans will blow it up given that it's definitely nowhere near the Aquitaine, the only ship that can send help if it is attacked?

I'm sorry but there comes a point where it's only sensible to assume that the GTVA do have FTL comms.

But it's plausible (much more plausible than causing Capella to go supernova in fact). Clearly one cannot make completely realistic FS2 campaigns since subspace drives are already unrealistic, but if one's going to take creative liberties, areas like this one are the best places for it.

@DefCynodont119 that's one way to interpret it I guess. Ancients have a few hundred worlds, while Shivans are the current dominant species in the Milky Way. Shivans have a few billion systems vs. few hundred for Ancients, no wonder the Shivans win. ez.

@The E - good idea, you want to write a campaign for that? :D Offhand I can't think of a plausible way to disrupt light-speed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri however. It is possible that dust shields light - we can't see the other side of the Milky Way for similar reasons, there's too much dust in the galactic plane - but with the distance between the two systems at only 4.3 light years, sufficient dust to block communication appearing out of nowhere is hard to believe. This kind of blockage would also block the star's light, and Alpha Centauri has always been visible from the Earth. A signal does get weaker at large distances, but they should still be detectable, and 2017 humans are already searching the sky for these signals. Some kind of radio jamming device between the two systems would work, but there's no one to operate such a device.

https://worldbuilding.stackexchange.com/questions/39571/how-far-away-would-an-alien-civilization-need-to-be-for-us-to-not-notice-them

 

Offline Luis Dias

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I have lots of "hard sci fi" obvious issues with FreeSpace, but funnily enough, I wouldn't count one single of your own issues as being on that list.

1 is easily explained away with unobtanium shivan technology, they just know way more physics than you can possibly even imagine mustering yourself here. Picture someone from the 15th century telling you that there is no way someone can instantly communicate with someone else to the other side of the world with "written words", because it would be against the "laws of nature", and that's basically you here.

2 is actually referenced in BP and irrelevant in FS2. The point in FS2 is not that we have not communicated with Sol, but that we haven't been able to get there.

3 was already mentioned, it's a misreading on your part of the dialogue. It's also irrelevant, given how FTL communication is a given both in FS canon and almost all mods/campaigns.

4... I haven't played that campaign so I have no idea.

If you had picked on how ships apparently have a speed cap of a couple hundreds of meters per second, or how much sound there is on space, etc., you'd be on oh so much better footing.

You could even have had picked on the sheer lack of realistic scale on FS2's final cutscene, where Capella is apparently just a few kilometers in size - if you compare it with the sathanases surrounding it - although that is quite common in sci fi shows and games' cutscenes to totally lack that sense of scale (cue Voyager intro, for instance, or the entirety of the latest Star Trek Beyond).

But your points, ahhhhh, no. Sorry. Dead ends.

 

Offline The E

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Offhand I can't think of a plausible way to disrupt light-speed communications between Sol and Alpha Centauri however. It is possible that dust shields light - we can't see the other side of the Milky Way for similar reasons, there's too much dust in the galactic plane - but with the distance between the two systems at only 4.3 light years, sufficient dust to block communication appearing out of nowhere is hard to believe. This kind of blockage would also block the star's light, and Alpha Centauri has always been visible from the Earth. A signal does get weaker at large distances, but they should still be detectable, and 2017 humans are already searching the sky for these signals. Some kind of radio jamming device between the two systems would work, but there's no one to operate such a device.

That's because, sorry, you're looking at it from the wrong end. You're looking at physics when you should be looking at politics.

Point 1: Alpha Centauri is a vasudan system.
Point 2: Receiver arrays capable of picking up interstellar radio are large investments.
Point 3: As per 2, they are almost certainly state-level investments
Point 4: As per 1, assuming the GTVA has the means and willingness to build a lightspeed communication system, what makes you think that the results would be communicated to the populace at large, especially if those results would be corrosive to the GTVAs political unity?

Your answer to the ants vs human thing shows a similarly limited point of view. You're asking "How many soldier ants does it take to fire a rifle", when the question you should be asking is "Can we eradicate ants without radically altering our ecosystem in the process".

What I'm trying to get at here is that hard science has its place in storytelling. But it should never override storytelling if the two conflict; it doesn't matter whether Corey really is 10 light years away or whether his instruments are just malfunctioning. The point is that something unexpected happened that separated Bei from his wingmen.

Your desire to educate us all on real physics is admirable. That you want a bit more realism in your spacefighter shooty game is understandable, even though I don't share that want. But what you are doing here is needless nitpicking of things that, sorry, do not matter to the question of how to tell an engaging story in FS.
**** every cause that ends in murder and children crying. ― Iain Banks
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