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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#17
The thing about stealth is the implementation depends on the type of sensors being used.

Something like radar? Impractical due to the amount of distance, constant motion, and background radiation; but you would obviously use a radar absorbent material or something that randomly scatters the signal (modern methods).
Some scifi method (Star Trek)? Low power settings, and cloaking devices.

Consider however that every active sensor system also tells everyone exactly where you are as well, though it can potentially provide FTL (instantaneous) system-wide pictures. There are more active methods I'm sure, but i've covered the basics.

As for passive systems:
Optics (literally looking at the surrounding space with very powerful and accurate cameras connected to computers which can then process and report the data and also record video of events)? In this case your only hope is to hide behind something because a system like this would most definitely "see" the UV and IR bands as well as standard visual spectrum. This system does have the downside of not being real-time consider. Two ships on opposite sides of Sol would require approximately 11 hours to see each other this way.
The other passive system i have to present is something used be the Navy. Basically a passive antenna array that continuously receives the EM emissions of other ships. sing this you can tell where the ship was when it sent the signal (at least what relative bearing they were at) and what kind active EM systems they are using (radar/sensors/comms). This information can allow you to tentatively identify a ship, and (by tracking it's movement over time) determine where it is. Also, if we are considering some FTL/instantaneous sensor system then this would still provide real-time data for you to use. In this case the simplest way to avoid detection is to not radiate EM.

Ideally you use a combination of systems depending both on implementation (physics primarily) in game, and what purpose the ship serves. This is the broadest description of problems/solutions i can think of at the moment.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#18
One simple note is that if the LT universe contains non-aggressor ships (couriers, traders, pleasure craft, etc.), then functional "stealth" means you only need to make your ship look like one of these non-threatening vessels.

"Look like" is the key phrase. At close (visual) distances, and assuming no one's hiding behind a rock, you can use the Mark I Mod 0 eyeball to see whether a craft is bristling with guns or not. You can also use active sensors to collect data, analyzed and explained by a computer, to identify specifics about another ship's capabilities.

Ship capability classification is more interesting at far but detectable distances. Beyond visual/active scanning, this means passive sensors showing generally what kinds of energy source emissions a ship is putting out and how strong they are. [There's a realism issue here regarding passive info about a ship in space being available in real time -- information can take minutes or hours to travel at light speed. But I assume relativity is being handwaved away, at least within star systems.]

A ship not armed for bear would tend to radiate X amount of type Y energy, allowing your ship's computer to say, "hmm, well, that's normal for a ship that size." But a well-armed craft would usually announce itself with an energy profile that spikes in the kinds of energies used to power weapons and screens: "Whoa, that guy is running hot, but his IFF says he's a trader! I don't think so...."

That's where there might be a ship subsystem option for masking energy output in selected bands. But I agree that, as suggested, for game balance any such masking feature ought to have some serious side effects.

Any/all of this should be modifiable for gameplay needs, of course. But (with the exception of no lightspeed information delay) the above suggestions are, I think, a reasonable summary of how functional "stealth" might work in a hard science fiction universe.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#19
Stealth components in Distant Worlds works like this:

1. Each stealth component has a different stealth strength (e.g. 300)
2. Advanced components have a higher stealth strength for their weight.
3. Degree of stealth = (mass of ship)/(stealth strength of component)
ex. ship weights 150 - stealth strength 300 = sensor detection range is halved (150/300)
ship weights 300 - stealth strength 300 = no stealth benefit (300/300)

Furthermore (DW doesn't do this, but you can), sensor detection could depend linearly or quadratically on ship mass. A ship weighing 100 would be twice as hard to detect (detection at half the distance) compared to a ship weighing 200.

Therefore,
1. Fighters and small ships are naturally stealthy, and benefit more from stealth components
2. You can have tiers of stealth components, with proper tradeoffs for big ships (energy use/fitting/stealth time)
3. It pays to continually research stealth

----

Another interesting idea (from the movies): make weapon fire show up on scanner. Or traces of weapon fire. Further, make the AI use this info in it's decision routines.

Many strategic possibilities - estimating location of enemy fleet based on orientation of last battle (the trail of decaying radioactive particles, I guess), feinting techniques (shooting asteroids now has a non-mining strategic purpose), doing a centroid weighed sampling of recent freighter attacks to triangulate location of a secret pirate base (ooo math), etc. The possibilities are amazing. A mess to implement though, I'm guessing.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#20
Here I am again, hurling around Culture references. :D

All these ships have a hyperdrive. What if the stealth consisted of using your hyperdrive to cut a little slit in space and tuck into it? May as well use the tecnobabble already aboard our ships rather than invent more. Once stealthed, you can sit there in subspace, a mere lump under the carpet of space so to speak, and perhaps even move around under the carpet without attracting attention if you do it slowly. Caveats are that a ship in subspace can't interact with an object in realspace (no stealth when attacking) and that putting yourself in subspace is basically a lesser version of a hyperspace jump (energy hungry).

The act of entering/exiting hyperspace is violent. A primitive hyperdrive punches a big hole in space to enter hyperspace and tears a great gash when drifting back into real space. The same is true of jumps into and out of subspace to a lesser extent. Even when in subspace, a very big ship is going to make a big lump in the carpet. Anti-stealth: there's your incentive to develop/buy better subspace sensors.

When you enter subspace you are detectable to eagle-eyed pilots that may have been watching their sensors as you popped into your subspace hiding hole, and you can be seen for millions of miles around when you crash to a stop at the end of a hyperspace jump. In addition your ship can only power stealth for a limited time, so it has to be used well to be of value. Pro-stealth: there's your incentive to develop/buy lower power and higher precision hyperdrive tech.

In a nutshell, stealth is a byproduct of other magical capabilities we've already agreed upon.
Experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#21
@Flatfingers
Good call about visual identification, but while that would work for a player, it could be difficult to implement a visual ID system for the AI. Even if the AI couldn't do visual ID, it would be an important detail for the player. Ideally all ships not actively hiding would transmit some IFF signal (accurate or spoofed) as the primary means of ID which can be combined with sensor data to detect fraudulent IFF.
Yes, I did disregard light speed limitations for sensors. The reason for this break from realism has been discussed by various individuals in this thread, and while I prefer realism, I agree with the major points presented. Also, we are assuming that technology has advanced to a point where they found a way around the light speed limitation on sensor systems.

@jimhsu
All components ultimately boil down to a set of numbers anyway, the issue I see is that various stealth components would ultimately counteract different sensor methods and detected characteristics. This could lead to a lot of math being required to calculate whether or not you detect a ship. Possible, but complex. Good ideas though.

@Zero Gravitas
We've been discussing the mechanics of interstellar flight here, and have developed the theory that jump technology utilizes wormholes rather than some pure abstract scifi hyperspace concept. These methods would be fundamentally incompatible with the cloaking methodology you suggest.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#22
Zero Gravitas: it's a fun idea but wouldn't that have a side effect of making interdiction (if such technology exists in this) the counter to stealth, making blockade running impossible in a stealthy manner? Escaping a blockade with speed instead of stealth is viable, but running supplies and relief aid to a blockaded planet with ships becomes impossible.

Since we all agree that we're playing with super-science anyway why veer away from the standard models of cloaking devices, signature dampeners and, for the truly ballzy, covert sensor jamming (non-exhaustive list)? The trade-offs are inherent in such device's commonly accepted traits (Cloak: no weapons, no shields; Dampners: lower hull integrity, increased fragility, high power consumption; Jamming: single target, occupies a hardpoint, doesn't always work, requires massive hairy balls; etc etc.)

Besides if we have both jumpgates or workflows and stealth is a hyper/subspace action... I'm going totry and pull a Bonehead Manouver (Open a jumppoint in an active jumppoint from another source)!
~天刃
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#23
@twitchYarby: just to be all nitpicky here, you do know that wormholes are purely hypothetical? I don't really see that it makes it any less an abstract concept just because Einstein said "Yeah, maybe, sounds like fun."

I remember reading somewhere or other the theory that tiny little subatomic wormholes might be popping into and out of existence all around us. I think it was a proposed theory as part of the struggle to explain all that dark matter business. It didn't involve sharks or lasers so I didn't pay that much attention, but it would point to a wormhole compatible stealth hyperdrive. Instead of busting open a big wormhole and flying into it, your ship opens up tiny little ones and sends pieces of your ship (on the sub atomic level) back and forth to the far side of the solar system. This reduces your sensor signature because literally half of your ship is not there at any given moment.
TenYaiba wrote:running supplies and relief aid to a blockaded planet with ships becomes impossible.
You're not supposed to be able to run relief and supplies to a blockaded planet, that's the point of a blockade. You need to get vital supplies to a planet? Do exactly as you suggested, hire a fast ship (another job for an explorer, as described in the career path thread) and outrun the blockade. Downside is that you can only deliver a tiny but perhaps vital payload. The people of your planet are starving and you need to get a quadrillion tonnes of food? Tough, your ass is blockaded. Cue epic space battle.
Experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#24
@Zero Gravitas: Valid nitpick. They are purely theoretical, but there is real math and science behind them. Hyperspace, however is a purely fictional construct that changes meanings depending on what scifi universe you reference. This is the distinguishing factor in the point I was presenting. We pushed further than where current science can take us by assuming certain theories were fact, not actually make up new sciences to explain the mechanics of LT's universe.
The reason for departure from real science in game mechanics such as stationary planets and instantaneous sensors is that the complexity of stellar mechanics and limitations of light speed on sensors would require more effort and processing power to implement than they are worth, and many players would be unwilling/able to deal with such mechanics. This same reason applies to instantaneous comms, but, assuming the existence of wormhole technology, we can say that the comm system utilizes micro-wormholes for data transfer; thus maintaining a valid scientific basis for instantaneous comms.
I remember reading somewhere or other the theory that tiny little subatomic wormholes might be popping into and out of existence all around us... but it would point to a wormhole compatible stealth hyperdrive. Instead of busting open a big wormhole and flying into it, your ship opens up tiny little ones and sends pieces of your ship (on the sub atomic level) back and forth to the far side of the solar system. This reduces your sensor signature because literally half of your ship is not there at any given moment.
Then all you accomplish is sectioning your ship across the system, and probably killing everyone aboard in the process. If half of your ship isnt there, then you're going to have a hard time holding the other half together. Interesting thought for a weapon design however. Fighter sized missile flies in close and turns on the micro-wormhole generator which begins scattering your target across the sector. Brutal. Perhaps, due to the effect this could have on a planet if it were stable enough, this weapon has been widely banned.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#25
Zero Gravitas: In my opinion, it's a question of the runner versus the blockade. Certainly it shouldn't be easier for the smuggler, but it shouldn't be impossible. If I were a blockade commander I would bombard the stuffing out of your vicinity , vaporizing you and anyone that tried to unload the supplies if you land, or you and the dropped supplies if you do a running drop, not to mention the damage to delicate equipment due to the drop.

If you run IN hot, its you against a fleet for the whole run. If you run in stealthy then you can set yourself up with the very important advantage of surprise if you can't stealth out.

It comes down to how much of a "hero" we want the player to be. The stronger the stealth options, the more tactical advantage an intelligent player can accumulate against an AI opponent.
~天刃
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#26
twitchYarby wrote:Hyperspace, however is a purely fictional construct that changes meanings depending on what scifi universe you reference.
Fair point. Conceded! :geek:
twitchYarby wrote:Then all you accomplish is sectioning your ship across the system, and probably killing everyone aboard in the process.
You're thinking on the wrong scale. What I was suggesting was that every alternate atom of your ship disappeared through a tiny wormhole to somewhere in deep space and back again within a nano-/micro- second, such a brief disappearance that the atomic structure of your ship is not affected at all and when the atom returns it slots back in to the exact position it previously occupied. But to a sensor array, at any given time slice, half your ship is not there.

@TenYaiba: Given the scale of a planet, it seems to me rather a tricky proposition to maintain an effective blockade against one. It's not like it will be possible to totally encircle a planet in a shell of steel. Even with hundreds of ships, there will be vast gaps between them. Unless the weapons range of a capital ship is preposterous, the odds seem to be stacked in favour of the blockade runner already.
Experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#27
You're thinking on the wrong scale. What I was suggesting was that every alternate atom of your ship disappeared through a tiny wormhole to somewhere in deep space and back again within a nano-/micro- second, such a brief disappearance that the atomic structure of your ship is not affected at all and when the atom returns it slots back in to the exact position it previously occupied. But to a sensor array, at any given time slice, half your ship is not there.
On the atomic scale you would be breaking molecular bonds in the process. On the molecular scale you would be disrupting the stability of the structures around you. Also, the device mentioned would need a wormhole generation system capable of generating and target, and stabilize an impossibly large number of micro-wormholes at nanosecond precision, where a Jump Drive only needs to generate and target and stabilize one ship-sized wormhole for a over a several second/minute span. The amount of exotic matter required would be significantly more than is needed for a standard jump. Taking into account the curvature of spacetime near a star, the closer to the star you were when you activated such a device the more unstable it would be. Last, the energy output of such a device would be like a beacon lighting up your exact location to everyone in the sector. Note, by energy output, I am refering to both the massive spacetime distortion and the larger than standard power output of the wormhole generation system required to produce more and more wormholes.
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#28
Zero Gravitas: if it is going to be called a blockade it would need to be an effective screen that could effectively respond to such runners. A faction capable of enstating and maintaining a planetary blockade would likely be a military body with a number of worlds backing it, meaning it would be unlikely that a such a force would be skimpy on pilots, ships, and response equipment.

Then again, as baseless hypothetical theory-war, there are many variables that I am assuming, though for a military action to be qualified as a true blockade it would need to be more than a squadron of patrol craft and a command cruiser.

I personally prefer a more heroic player especially in a single player game, and thus, would enjoy a more potent stealth system, including the AI component of being better able to scout and set up ambushes.

To wit, more combat options and a better sense of heroic protagonist is preferable to me.
~天刃
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#29
twitchYarby wrote:On the atomic scale you would be breaking molecular bonds in the process. On the molecular scale you would be disrupting the stability of the structures around you. Also, the device mentioned would need a wormhole generation system capable of generating and target, and stabilize an impossibly large number of micro-wormholes at nanosecond precision, where a Jump Drive only needs to generate and target and stabilize one ship-sized wormhole for a over a several second/minute span.
Mere details! To be honest I was originally trying to posit this as working at a subatomic level, thinking that the quantum hoopla at that small scale might make this kind of thing feasible within the bounds of existing science. I won't claim to know anything about quantum mechanics so I won't be surprised if that line of thinking is nonsense. My atomic scale reply was a badly-worded counterpoint to your comment about cutting ships into giant chunks (!) and sprinkling them around the galaxy.

As to the power requirements: it's pure speculation to suggest that it takes more power to produce lots of little wormholes for a nanosecond compared to one big wormhole for several minutes. I say it would actually be the other way round, that producing a big stable wormhole should take more energy than producing even billions of subatomic nanosecond wormholes.

Nevermind, let's just paint our ships with full-spectrum radiation scattering invisi-paint and be done with it. :lol:

@TenYaiba: My thinking is that the blockade naturally has lots of big gaps in it due to the scales at play, but that a big slow moving cargo ship would be easily spotted and intercepted even with such gaps. On the other hand a small fast stealthy clipper can sneak through undetected or, if detected, probably outrun the blockade. The punchline is that a fast clipper has a tiny cargo capacity. So the blockade is both full of holes and very effective. :D
Experiencing a significant gravitas shortfall
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Re: Sensors, Scanners, Stealth and A.I. Perception

#30
twitchYarby wrote:@Flatfingers
@Zero Gravitas
We've been discussing the mechanics of interstellar flight here, and have developed the theory that jump technology utilizes wormholes rather than some pure abstract scifi hyperspace concept. These methods would be fundamentally incompatible with the cloaking methodology you suggest.
Nowhere in that topic I see Josh saying that wormholes will be used in jump technology... So I'm guessing nothing is set in stone yet?
Beware of he who would deny you access to information, for in his heart he dreams himself your master.

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