Author Topic: Outpost 2 and Hard Science  (Read 444 times)

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« on: November 01, 2021, 07:19:28 PM »
So, I was wandering through the "Hall of Fame" (because Arklon necroed a thread from there) and ran across a forum post called "Eve Tek Tank". In it posters were arguing over allowing certain techs into the game or not, because it went against the "hard science" approach of the game, and so I wanted to have a discussion on that. Why? Because Outpost 2 doesn't use hard science. Hear me out:

1. To get anywhere in the depths of space, you need to be going fast. Like insanely fast, like 1/20th the speed of light fast (in km/s 1 speed of light == 299,792; 1/20th = 14,989.6 km/s => 53,962.6 km/h or in Machs, that is roughly Mach 44). A railgun fires a round at roughly Mach 9, and it can punch a hole through several modern battle tanks. There are three major problems when travelling at this speed: 1) Any spec of dust will slice through your ship, unless you have deflector shields (you know those sci-fi things all Star Trek ships possess). 2) The acceleration will kill any living creature by restricting its blood flow so severely that you'll go brain dead in 5 minutes or less. 3) You cannot slow down quickly. Now... at a speed of 1/20th the speed of light, it will take you forever to get anywhere. Alpha Centauri, the nearest star system, is roughly 4.4 light years away. So if you are travelling at 1/20th the speed of light, you'll reach that place in about 88 Sols (Earth years). The next closest is Barnard's Star at around 5.96 light years away, so that is about 119 Sols away.

Without a sci-fi FTL engine, a jump drive, wormhole technology, etc... you couldn't actually accomplish the journey in Outpost 2 to New Terra using pure Hard Science. It would take centuries to millenia to reach a distant star with an Ion Drive.

2. To overcome the issue of time it takes to travel, and the heavy acceleration it is proposed to put people in cryosleep for long periods. There is no real hard science that states that you can actually bring someone out of cryosleep. No one who has been frozen, has been revived a year later. Cryosleep stuff was a fad in the 90s, and as Outpost 2 was made in the 90s, they probably felt that it would be a cool hard science thing, but it isn't hard science. You can say freeze a person for a few hours and bring them back to life, but putting them in cryo and then reviving them 500+ years later is not hard science. The only ones that managed to achieve that was in Star Trek, Season 1, where they found an old earth Cryosleep pod, and revived them.

3. Even if you could somehow reach 1/20th the speed of light, you still have the issue of maintenance. Everything in the world is subject to entropy, and everything wears down over time. You'd need to do regular maintenance on everything, otherwise things would start to break. So someone would have to be woken up to do the repairs. But then the issue is that eventually you will run out of parts and the material resources to build new parts or even jury rig something to work. You'll have to resupply, but you are the middle of deepspace, with the nearest planet like 50 Sols away. Hard science couldn't achieve the trip. Its just too far a distance.

So... with all that in mind, why are people so resistant to having other non-hard science put into the game. I'm genuinely curious, why some non-hard science is acceptable but others is not. I'm not trying to create a fight or argument, I'm just wondering what is acceptable and what isn't, in a game that really isn't based on hard science.     
Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Hooman

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4948
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #1 on: November 02, 2021, 12:03:23 AM »
Quote
2) The acceleration will kill any living creature by restricting its blood flow so severely that you'll go brain dead in 5 minutes or less.

I think you may be confusing velocity and acceleration here. Fast acceleration could be an issue, that may put the body under extreme stresses. That's particularly true if the acceleration isn't uniform throughout a body. Though it's entirely possible to accelerate slowly over time and eventually reach a very high velocity, without ever putting strong stresses on a body.

For a simple present day example, consider the elevator in Taipei 101. It makes the journey from ground floor to observation deck on the 89th floor in 37 seconds, and reaches a speed of 60.6km/h straight up. You almost can't feel it moving at all. It's an incredibly smooth ride. It's rumoured that you could stand a coin on it's edge, and it won't fall over during the journey. There's a display screen in the elevator showing an outline of the tower, and the current position of the elevator. During the lower floors, the elevator appears to move quite slowly, but as you reach the middle of the tower, it's moving incredibly fast, and at around floor 70 or so, you feel your weight change a bit as it's starts to decelerate, even though you've still got about another 20 floors to cover. It is most definitely not like being lunched from a rubber band loaded amusement park ride.

The other point above was about acceleration generally being non-uniform throughout a body. If that happens, particles that are accelerated more than others will push or pull on other particles they contact which were accelerated less, until they equalize, which will lead to internal stresses. If you could accelerate all particles evenly, there might not be any apparent stress within a body. Everything just starts moving faster together. I don't know that such a system could ever work for the human body, but if you consider a uniformly solid metallic object, being accelerated by a nearly uniform magnetic field (which might require the object to be small to approximate that), I expect there wouldn't be much in the way of internal stresses.



At any rate, the game is in the category of science fiction. Not everything in it has to be perfectly real, but if you stray too far from what is at least theoretically possible, it starts to impact believability.

Offline Hooman

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4948
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #2 on: November 02, 2021, 12:31:27 AM »
While looking up info on the elevator, I noticed some links to YouTube videos of the journey. Here's one that isn't too shaky:


You'll notice the top speed going up is 1010 meters / minute (or 60.6 km/h), and takes 37 seconds. It takes until about floor 32 to reach max speed, and starts to slow down at about floor 64.

Going down is slower, reaching a max speed of 600 meters / minute, and taking about 40 seconds.

I got to ride it in 2014, when it was still the world's fastest elevator.  :D

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #3 on: November 02, 2021, 02:19:18 AM »
Alright that handles the issue of acceleration. However it is still going to take forever to decelerate in safe manner. Because if it takes over a week for an ion drive to reach maximum velocity, its going to take at least a week to slow down.

However, getting to another star system, other than Alpha Centauri, without running out of something, is far fetched. So I find that the concept of reaching another star using purely hard science is whimiscal. After all, at those speeds, it would still take years to reach even Pluto.

I find that if you take the hard science approach, it all has to make sense. This kind of issue is what breaks it for me. Its the same deal with Rimworld; it lacks FTL, and yet you get regular traders, when you are on a rim-world some 100 light years from the nearest glitterworld. Without FTL it would take millenia to reach it, but someone they come like clockwork every couple weeks.
Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Sirbomber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #4 on: November 02, 2021, 12:47:37 PM »
You're confusing "hard sci-fi" with "reality".  You need to look at the difference between Outpost 2, where most things at least attempt to justify how they work with some grounding in reality (aside from the Savants, which are basically magic computers that do whatever the plot needs them to do), and something like Starcraft or Star Wars, where the answer to "how does this work?" is almost always "space magic" (if they bother to explain it at all).  If your only gripe is that the journey to New Terra "only" took a century, remember that this game was made over 20 years ago, long before people started to realize just how difficult things like fusion power, casual space travel, and hard AI actually are to achieve.
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

Outpost 2 Coding 101 Tutorials

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2021, 04:59:40 AM »
Except that almost everything in Outpost 2 does not attempt to justify how they work. For example:

-Boptronics = Inorganic circuits infused with organic components. Sure that works in Star Trek Voyager, or the Strogg in Quake or the Reapers in Mass Effect, but none of these attempt to justify how they work in reality. Even Outpost 2 doesn't explain how it works. 
-Agridomes = Generates food out of thin air. Have to manage food for colonists, but not water consumption? And who have heard of a farm that can generate enough food for 40 people, requiring only 1 worker, and provide all the necessary caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements for life?
-Weaponized Lasers/Microwave = The power supply necessary to get these to work is insane, to bring them up to the point of melting tank armor. Also they are super finicky to being hit by projectiles (a cracked lens means your laser won't hit what you want it to), require constant cleaning of the lens, and are very prone to overheating.
-Fusion Power = Technically the first Tokamak was built in the USSR in 1958. Since then many have built fusion reactors, and no one has managed to have a stable reaction with magnetic confinement. The most recent idea is inertial confinement, where hundreds of lasers hit some tritium to undergrow fusion. This still hasn't resulted in stable fusion. So, the developers of the game would have known this, after all the fusion reactor IS called a Tokamak in the game.

If you read my post, you'd know that the measure of time wasn't 1 century. I said many centuries (ie 6+) to millenia (10+).

I believe the developers put as much effort into explaining how things works in the Outpost 2, as star trek tries to explain how warp theory works with milli-cochraines and warp bubbles. Or they tried using a lot of sci-fi concepts that were purely theoritical in the 90s and just assumed that eventually people would turn them into scientific law. I think they wanted to get away from hard-science, after all they didn't hire an astronaut to explain things in Outpost 2 as they did with Outpost 1. But they didn't want to go so far away from hard science that it would be star wars style space magic.
Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Sirbomber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #6 on: November 03, 2021, 09:28:46 AM »
I did read your post.  I was referring to how the backstory for OP2 says the journey to New Terra only took a century or so, not saying you thought it should've taken that long.  As to your other points... I'm not really sure what the point is you're trying to make.  Energy weapons, fusion power, and even computers with biological components are things that are actively being researched and prototyped today.  The problems with growing food on a Mars-like world have been considered and (obviously untested) strategies and techniques have been developed to mitigate those issues.  Your argument seems to boil down to "they didn't write a 40-page peer-reviewed thesis for each new technology, complete with diagrams, footnotes, and citations, therefore they're making everything up" which seems like a lot to ask for a small team of game designers (or any creator of fiction).  All due respect, I'm kind of getting the idea you don't really know what you're talking about, and maybe reading this will help clear things up for you.
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

Outpost 2 Coding 101 Tutorials

Offline BlackBox

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3091
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #7 on: November 03, 2021, 05:35:27 PM »
For what it's worth, the main argument against the ideas in the Eve Tek Tank thread was that they would be utterly game breaking or don't even really make practical sense w.r.t. how they could even fit into OP2 (either completely out of line with the canon of the story or don't even make sense in the game environment presented... for example, how would you even interact with a wormhole in game? Do vehicles drive through it, or do you get teleported to a different map, or what?).  I think it's also fair to say that wormholes fall outside of hard sci-fi, we have no idea how to create them let alone whether they exist at all, or can even exist in the real universe... at least most of the ideas in OP2 are believable with modern tech, even if they took a bit of creative license with them.

As to your other gripes which strike me as somewhat of a strawman argument, not to mention, "how they work" are described in the game's help file along with some extra backstory, I would recommend reading the unit reference there:

-Boptronics = Inorganic circuits infused with organic components. Sure that works in Star Trek Voyager, or the Strogg in Quake or the Reapers in Mass Effect, but none of these attempt to justify how they work in reality. Even Outpost 2 doesn't explain how it works.

I think this was a product of the era OP2 was created in; biological computers have been a topic of research for a while now, especially around that time, and the idea seems feasible enough albeit impractical.  I strongly think if OP2's story were re-written today, we would probably be discussing AI rather than computers with proteins in them; keep in mind that "everyday" AI and machine learning weren't practical in the 90s like it is today with the massively parallel programmable compute devices we have today (GPUs, matrix math ASICs, etc).

Quote
-Agridomes = Generates food out of thin air. Have to manage food for colonists, but not water consumption? And who have heard of a farm that can generate enough food for 40 people, requiring only 1 worker, and provide all the necessary caloric, protein, vitamin and mineral requirements for life?

This is obviously an abstraction for gameplay simplification.  OP2 has enough micromanagement as-is, I think "food" can be simplified to mean food, water, environmental control, waste handling/reuse, etc.  Same thing with the worker requirements for buildings, though it's mentioned throughout the story and help file that Agridomes are highly automated so it might be feasible to run the entire facility with one person.  After all, this article claims that as of 2014, one farmer could feed 155 people: https://www.thegazette.com/government-politics/fact-check-reynolds-says-one-iowa-farmer-feeds-155-people-worldwide/ (looking at other websites came up with similar figures, and for all we know this might be even higher in the OP2 world since a lot of that food isn't being produced to feed to animals/feedstock for ethanol production/etc as it is in the real world).

Quote
-Weaponized Lasers/Microwave = The power supply necessary to get these to work is insane, to bring them up to the point of melting tank armor. Also they are super finicky to being hit by projectiles (a cracked lens means your laser won't hit what you want it to), require constant cleaning of the lens, and are very prone to overheating.

Well, the story tells us that vehicles have onboard fusion reactors, so I would guess that would satisfy the power requirements.  As to the rest, I think that the HP / damage abstraction that exists is sufficient for gameplay reasons (of course all weapons systems require regular maintenance; it wouldn't be very fun if you had to constantly bring your units back to a garage for repairs/lens cleaning/whatever other thing we don't care about for gameplay reasons).  i.e. I suppose we could simulate everything down to the colonists doing laundry and using the toilet, but this is an RTS set on a Mars-like planet, not The Sims.

Further, masers (as I'd expect the microwave weapon and wireless power transmission described in-game to be using) likely wouldn't have an optical lens... probably some sort of waveguide/rectenna instead.

Quote
-Fusion Power = Technically the first Tokamak was built in the USSR in 1958. Since then many have built fusion reactors, and no one has managed to have a stable reaction with magnetic confinement. The most recent idea is inertial confinement, where hundreds of lasers hit some tritium to undergrow fusion. This still hasn't resulted in stable fusion. So, the developers of the game would have known this, after all the fusion reactor IS called a Tokamak in the game.

The wikipedia article for Tokamak suggests that there have been plenty of successful magnetic confinement fusion experiements, just none with a gain factor of more than 1 (i.e. they consume more power than they produce).  I don't think it's a completely unfair assumption that in the OP2 near-future timeline, breakeven fusion might be a viable power source.

re: inertial vs magnetic confinement, keep in mind that large ICF facilities such as NIF didn't exist at the time OP2 was released, and it appears that most fusion experiments in the 90s involved tokamak-style designs, so that would probably explain why they went with the tokamak in OP2.

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #8 on: November 04, 2021, 12:01:04 AM »
@Sirbomber;
If the journey took about a century, then they'd end up at Bernard's star at the farthest and Alpha Centauri at the shortest, but I don't recall there planets being around those stars with conditions similar to New Terra. I could be wrong.

Lots of things are being actively researched now, like Artificial Wombs, Quantum Computing, and Cloning, but we are about as close to reaching a breakthrough on any of them, as the topics I mentioned.

I do know what I'm talking about. There is no reason you need to be so condescending. I'm not attacking you, so not sure why you are attacking me.

@Blackbox;

Thank you for the well reasoned and thought out reply. It was quite informative and useful.

I read the article on the food. It is actually referring to GDP subtracted by costs divided by number of people in the US who bought it, to get the magic number of 155 people. So depending on the crop, would determine the actual number of people. So if it was a popular crop that produced a huge amount of GDP, such as creamers (type of potato), but for subsidized products like corn, the value of people served would be significantly less (as the subsidies would greatly lower the GDP gained).

================

I'm not sure how I'm creating a strawman here, just trying to point out the illogicalness of fighting for real science, when real science isn't being used here. Developers can be creative with science, and stretch things to work for their game universe and that is fine, but calling it real science is stretching the truth so much that its no longer science, but rather magic. It works because we say it does. It seems to me that everyone here who is trying to fight for calling it real science is making a strawman out of my argument, rather than justifying how it is real science. Just because we are researching things now, doesn't mean it would actually work.

Anyway, this discussion is clearly not getting anywhere, and people don't want to answer the question, so just remove this thread.


Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Hooman

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 4948
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #9 on: November 04, 2021, 01:52:00 AM »
Quote
I suppose we could simulate everything down to the colonists doing laundry and using the toilet

This reminded me of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:
Quote
For years, the fabulously beautiful planet of Bethselamin increased its booming tourist industry without any worries at all. Alas, as is often the case, this was an act of utter stupidity, as it led to a colossal cumulative erosion problem. Of course, what else could one expect with ten billion tourists per annum? Thus today the net balance between the amount you eat and the amount you excrete while on the planet is surgically removed from your body weight when you leave; so every time you go to the lavatory there, it is vitally important to get a receipt.

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #10 on: November 04, 2021, 03:00:25 AM »
The game Clanfolk (from Steam Next Fest) does simulate doing laundry and using a toilet. Though it focuses on a single family, rather than an entire civilization.
Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Sirbomber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #11 on: November 04, 2021, 09:28:47 AM »
Anyway, this discussion is clearly not getting anywhere, and people don't want to answer the question, so just remove this thread.
Unfortunately for you, this isn't social media, and you can't just delete embarrassing posts when people who actually know what they're talking about come along.


People have answered your question, you just didn't like the answer.  As has been explained to you, hard sci-fi is internally consistent and based on scientific principles (in other words, you can't just shout "reverse the polarity!" or "increase the power!" to make things magically happen).  As has also been explained, this game was worked on in the mid 90's, and, unsurprisingly to everyone who isn't an anti-masker, our scientific understanding has progressed since then.  We know now that Tokamaks are probably a dead-end... but we didn't when the game was made.  Hard sci-fi is not about being "right" because nobody has a crystal ball.  It's about extrapolating from current knowledge to create a believable world.  To reference back to the thread that started this debate, wormholes and "spinning mango boxes" do not fit that requirement.  Fusion power does because although we might not be able to do it ourselves yet, you can just look outside when it's sunny to see it in action.  As for why most of us are against adding fantastical elements to OP2, it's because that's the theme of the game and we like that.  I'm not sure why that's the sticking point that confuses you.  If this were a medieval-themed game and someone wanted to add lasers and spaceships to it, would you be confused when people took exception to that?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2021, 10:09:58 AM by Sirbomber »
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

Outpost 2 Coding 101 Tutorials

Offline lordpalandus

  • Banned
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 825
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #12 on: November 04, 2021, 05:31:22 PM »
The administrators on this website routinely delete my posts. Like the mettle discussion, I posted there and it got deleted. It didn't violate any forum rules, and didn't get a reason sent to my inbox. So if they are willing to do that there, why not delete this post? At least with social media, when they delete your posts, or ban you, they tell you why.

Oh, so what you are saying is if, people in the scientific community felt that the world was flat, it would be hard science to create a game where the entire world was flat. Or it would be hard science to create a game where the scientific community felt the earth was the center of the universe. Or it would be hard science, to have aliens in the game, if the scientific community felt that they are real. Gotcha. It all makes sense now. Thanks for the clarification.
Currently working on Cataclysm of Chaos, Remade.
Link to OPU page = http://forum.outpost2.net/index.php/topic,6073.0.html

Offline Arklon

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 1262
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #13 on: November 04, 2021, 06:13:53 PM »
It was a single deleted post, which said nothing beyond "15 year old necro". Believing that a single point of data proves a "routine" trend shows that you are, in fact, far more knowledgeable than the scientific community. I don't know that you rage deleting your own account over it was justifiable, but you do you I guess.

Offline leeor_net

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2311
  • OPHD Lead Developer
    • LairWorks Entertainment
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #14 on: November 04, 2021, 07:55:45 PM »
Well there was the one posted I deleted by mistake a few years ago when I was trying to split the topic. I did apologize for that one when I realized the mistake... I'm not aware of other posts that were deleted? /me shrugs

Oh well.

Anyway, I don't know if it was addressed, I didn't look at the whole thread but the 'hard science' approach was mostly for OP1. OP2 used that as a sort of marketing gimmick though they went more sci-fi with it.

In OP1 the explanation for the decades long journey was 'slow sleep'. Like suspended animation but assuming we hadn't gotten that far yet. Sorta like hibernation.

Offline Sirbomber

  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3218
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #15 on: November 04, 2021, 08:58:40 PM »
That was how OP2 explained it.  As I recall, OP1 never explained how the journey took place.  That actually always confused me, because you send probes to the target system and instantly get the data back.  And then a few turns into the game you get a news article about losing contact with mission control on Earth, which implies a light-speed capable starship, or FTL starships and communications.
"As usual, colonist opinion is split between those who think the plague is a good idea, and those who are dying from it." - Outpost Evening Star

Outpost 2 Coding 101 Tutorials

Offline leeor_net

  • Administrator
  • Hero Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 2311
  • OPHD Lead Developer
    • LairWorks Entertainment
Re: Outpost 2 and Hard Science
« Reply #16 on: November 05, 2021, 07:01:17 PM »
It implies it but that's not what they actually intended. I only know this because Balfour explains it in the 'official strategy' guide. Maybe that's what I'm remembering versus the game?

I vaguely remember something about it in the original manual too for the CD version of the game (pre 1.5 patch).