Saturday, September 18, 2021

Rockets and pushing my limits

 All the tools that go to delta-v to be easier goes to designer notes.  Sure write the simple parts down in the mechanics but then in practice, the players being clever will start asking questions about -  

  1. exact numbers - delta-V as mass changes - especially in CHASES. 
  2. adding boosters and extra tanks. Because these are common factors in Operational Tailoring/fine-tuning - some ships just carry more fuel. 
  3. missiles (and projectiles) and their delta-v as they are launched with an initial velocity. 
  4. more details about rockets - and different engines and benchmarks.   

And I have to layout my assumptions - and the limits of the system. As well as the opportunity to go into more fun and detail.  For me to get to where I am now - not only did I have to learn math I don't use day to day,  but find a way to fit it in - an example would be the Acceleration formula can be used for Infection or Vaccination rates   So I use the country's performance in vaccination to determine if we will spend on HVAC, acrylic barriers, air filters, KN95 for workers, etc...   in the absence of any clear plan to ramp up vaccination and testing of the gov't - what do I do as one of the company's safety officers. What data do I use to make an informed decision? Interestingly Project Management and Physics formulas are good friends and they helped me try to inform how this all works. 

Fun Tidbit. All the HVAC from my mentor and the Life Support I had to research for harder scifi applies in the Pandemic as it informs me how should we design our ventilation system? SHould the vents be at Standing Head level (which is the default ) or should it be lower like floor level - as carbon dioxide with aspirated water descends from us as we breathe? The science why Astronauts in the ISS have fans as there is no more gravity to pull carbon dioxide down from our heads and it forms a bubble around the head of the Astronaut. (We are a furniture and fit-out construction company - prior to the pandemic my mentor was the Mechanical Design manager who is also a fellow military and gun enthusiast - so we would talk a lot of science and engineering where they intersect). 

Rockets, Mass, and Acceleration are alien to me. I'm not an expert which is why I'm investing in Science Consultation (talking to my friends about any Physics background consultants who can check if I understood it properly...  and I've been unlucky. I may have to go to Upwork or Fiverr to find a consultant). But fortunately, Simple Rockets 2 allows me to test my understanding as I can look at the stats of the rockets and check if my math matches the performance there. 

The advantage of Simple Rockets is that it's more straightforward than Kerbal and the planet Droo is the same gravity as Earth. So I'm going through that tedious learning phase where I'm trying to learn a New Game and new mechanics. I'm trying to break it down into a set of instructions a Newbie, or ME when i first began, would be able to understand. 

So the Booklet which is supposed to be just a few ships (4) will have a lot of designers notes on practicalities - there is the system which is simple - Life support is X credits - but then there is the complicated one - that does Life Support factor in the Salary? If it doesnt then the total cost of ownership of the salary is actually Higher, doesnt that make a ship job with 100-500 CR with free Life support better than a ground job at 1000-2000? 

In Project Management the Assumption Log is one of the Foundational Documents moving forward. Designers Notes acting as an Assumptions Log helps the Undertaking navigate through uncertainty "No, we don't know if that area is safe to cross" instantly triggers an assessment.  Dont worry its all in the Design Notes - you dont have to read it unless there is something that needs additional clarificaiton. 

The Role of Hard Science in a GAME. 

Harder science is never taken all at once, in fact the very nature of science is best taken at its spirit "doing science when there is a PROBLEM". Quality Systems in Engineering and in Science is best done when we have a problem and a clear problem statement. We dont want to jump into something with ambiguous and unclear goals. We want a PROBLEM before we proceed to a solution. A clear problem and a clear emotional signal that "Damn this problem sucks, X would be better." And ideally the problem is in agreement with most parties if not all. BTW this is called Pull-based systems (vs Push based system if you google it) - its a great system for groceries, warehouses, inventories, kanban, and avoiding accumulating junk. 

If you start going into Delta-V in your game - it should be that the Players would rather get to know Delta-V than the Constant Acceleration of M-Drives. Or there is some aspect of the game that Delta-V would fix: like the realization that constant acceleration is counterintuitive and differences in Acceleration are large numbers when factoring 10-16 minute turns and 1-50k Km. That easily we would exceed a difference of 50k km. That Delta-V is not so bad, there are fewer exponents in Delta-V and less multiplication. 

that players who are too clever realizing that they can accelerate near light speed with a payload of missiles - can defeat most point defense and destroy planets and systems that can hold systems hostage. The GM realizing this - would find themselves taking on more work as they have to Adjudicate arbitrarily many things because a set of principles can lead to a Kessler syndrome of abuses. Stable pillars of Realistic Constants help the GM and Players build a WORLD and Stakes. It really sucks to have to throw out so much World Building every time we break some fundamental law of physics without knowing what we are taking on. 

I remember when I was world-building knowing that any ship with infinite acceleration can destroy anything - holy crap the amount of redundancy needed - deeper and deeper underground building, so much security investment for wealthy areas and backwater areas can be held hostage with rock-throwing.  that Jumps or Warp can "handwave" the biggest problem - Time Scales. of course if the Referee having to Swat down with "No cause I said so" gets really old. Leaving that "Let's agree for a Universal Amnesia that Kinetic Energy calculations would never reveal how dangerous an M-drive or Anti-gravity is. 

The thing is Traveller and Scifi are played by some people who are extra curious - but it doesn't mean curiosity is Impatient. We can add new SKILLS (delta-V-based games are a skill, approach like a skill - we are allowed to SUCK terribly at it and learn as we go) and that's great - man it feels like we are growing even in our old age. It feels like we are still that kid that wanted to know what we know now - it makes the WALLS we slam against - not so impenetrable and instead of a sign of how many Walls we've broken down and how many we plan to break down as we grow. 

It's ok to fuck up. I mean fucking up and getting frustrated at something we see as hindsight so basic makes us remember that it is OUR CHARACTER - our virtues and perseverance is what got us through it. How many times we've bashed our heads against this problem in a game? Feels so familiar because we've done this before and we overcame it and we are different and grew. Nothing feels like pushing limits than the Pain and the Frustration. Feeling like an idiot - welcome to the club - membership all those fellow nerds and geeks who also struggled - that's great company! 

When I feel like an Idiot - i remember all those other geeks and nerds struggling and who feel like an imposter. 

I may be relearning science I used to know and it doesn't make it less than a milestone. We will forget and as we grow older pieces of us will be gone and we cannot know what we lost. yet to quit or to stop trying is much more frightening - to surrender into the apathy and void - to lose that spark before our heart stops beating is far scarier. I think of all those who depend on us for that spark, to keep theirs going and the other sparks and struggles we see. 

I guess its a bit too heavy-handed of me. or too weird that my identity is tied to gaming and to science and proving to myself that I can learn enough about rockets to run a game and make it fun for others. The guys in Kerbal, Simple Rockets, and Space Flight Simulator have done so - they made rockets fun - people buy those games - I think we are those guys who will show how it will be fun in a NARRATIVE setting. In a Story how rockets work and how the Heroes of the story figure out how to MOVE their world. 

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