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13_CBS
2009-07-08, 07:33 PM
Big robots are awesome. Hilariously impractical and probably almost physically impossible, but awesome. So is pre-medieval European warfare--watching (historically inaccurate) movies about Greeks and Romans duking it out with other peoples is also awesome (see: Gladiator, 300).

So...how would you go about combining both? :smallbiggrin:

This came about when I was playing Rome: Total War, and was wiping the pathetic Romans off the face of the earth with the unstoppable might of my Seleucid pike phalanxes and cataphracts. I thought, "You know, it'd be kinda cool if we had, like, big mecha pike phalanxes facing off against big mecha maniples and stuff," and I started wondering what kind of changes Earth, as it is right now, would need to make it work.

I'm not looking for changes to modern society and warfare that are necessarily possible--this is just a thought exercise for great justice and awesome.


So here's the goal...

What kind of political, technological, military, and economic changes would modern day earth need in order to convert all major land military conflicts from its current state into one dominated by...

1) Large (20+ feet in height), human-piloted, and preferably bipedal and humanoid vehicles

2) Melee combat, preferably similar to melee combat as it was conducted in Europe, the North African coast, and the Middle East, ca. 500 BCE - 300 AD

As a side note, for engineering issues, feel free to come up with phlebotinum to make stuff work. As I said, the solutions to this "problem", for the sake of this exercise, don't necessarily have to be entirely possible. (Though kudos to you if you make them as reasonable as you can!)

A preliminary list of things that must be changed in order to have big robots with swords beating each other up...


Combat and Technology (engineering issues)

1) Ranged weaponry, particularly anti-armor weaponry and long-range ballistics, must be made obsolete somehow, or otherwise rendered ineffective against robots, either through some kind of special armor that can only be penetrated by a certain technology or something else.

2) Aircraft must be made obsolete somehow, or otherwise rendered ineffective against robots.

3) Nuclear weapons must be made obsolete somehow.

4) Urban warfare must somehow be made less important, or robots must be engineered so that they can be effective in urban combat.

5) Robots must somehow be more cost-effective than tanks in most or all combat situations.

6) Robots must be somehow logistically easier to maintain than tanks.

7) We need a way to actually make the darn robots work, what with their complex leg machinery and everything.

8) Melee weaponry capable of being wielded by robots must be made so that they're actually more effective against other robots than, say, a missile.

9) Robots must be dexterous enough to wield a melee weapon effectively.

10) Robots will need some kind of effective and efficient power source (kinda falls under the logistics issue).

11) Robots must be designed so that they can be deployed at least as quickly as main battle tanks.

...and that's all I can think of at the moment.



Political



1) Either political attitudes, public opinion, or nuclear weapons themselves must change so that countries don't just start nuking one another at a certain point in a war.

2) The goals of warfare must changed so that "beat up the other guy's robot army" is in there somewhere. Not necessarily the ultimate goal, but there nonetheless.

...and I can't really think of anything else right now. :smallconfused:


Economic



Current world financial issues aside, I think a lot of the changes will actually be mostly industrial than "economic" per se...

1) Robot-making factories must be built, and probably lots of them.

2) Aircraft and ranged weaponry production facilities must be shut down or at least minimize production.

3) Robot production must be made feasible.

...and I can't think of anything else at the moment.



Thoughts? Ideas? Suggestions?

Cubey
2009-07-08, 07:46 PM
Mobile Suit Gundam already half-answered your question 30 years ago.
Minovsky Particles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minovsky_Physics)

End result: giant robots are feasible, and long-range weapons (really long, like ballistic missiles) are easy to intercept, while homing systems are jammed easily. Short range shooting weapons are still usable, whether the gun is mobile suit- or human-sized.

How to make ALL ranged weapons completely useless on the battlefield? I have no idea.

The_JJ
2009-07-08, 08:05 PM
Well, Dune type speed limit sheilds makes melee justifiable.

But, honestly, if you're going to construct a world as demanded in there, you're just going to open yourself up to more holes. Run it on rule of cool and be done with it. Anime does it, why not you?

On a more serious note, nuclear fusion/antimatter works well for most 'future compact energy' but for a little curveball, throw on some solar, maybe for just one faction, because then they're all shiny black and awesome. Might help explain your urban problem (no sunlight indoors.)

Now, if you do somehow justify cutting out missile (long range) weapons, cutting tanks is quite simple. Every seen a tank manuver? Bipedal bots would have an edge.

That said... go cataphracts!
We don't need no tactics, just enough room to pick up speed. *evil laughter*

Poison_Fish
2009-07-08, 11:31 PM
And here I was thinking warstriders from Exalted.

Not that it's based on Earth or anything.

Trizap
2009-07-08, 11:45 PM
Mobile Suit Gundam already half-answered your question 30 years ago.
Minovsky Particles (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minovsky_Physics)

End result: giant robots are feasible, and long-range weapons (really long, like ballistic missiles) are easy to intercept, while homing systems are jammed easily. Short range shooting weapons are still usable, whether the gun is mobile suit- or human-sized.

How to make ALL ranged weapons completely useless on the battlefield? I have no idea.

hmmmmmmm............well, yea I don't think bullets can be made completely useless...........maybe some kind of bulletproof shielding or something kind of force field is invented and people can't figure out how to make lasers for some reason, and that such force fields can only be penetrated by large mecha-sized melee weapons?

hmmmmmmm..............which basically means if you want a setting big robots and classical melee warfare, your going to have to make something that functions both as a NGE AT Field and a Minovsky particle.

UltraDude
2009-07-08, 11:52 PM
hmmmmmmm............well, yea I don't think bullets can be made completely useless...........maybe some kind of bulletproof shielding or something kind of force field is invented and people can't figure out how to make lasers for some reason, and that such force fields can only be penetrated by large mecha-sized melee weapons?

hmmmmmmm..............which basically means if you want a setting big robots and classical melee warfare, your going to have to make something that functions both as a NGE AT Field and a Minovsky particle.

Sounds like an AT Field; the melee weapons are able to pierce the barrier because you need to use the field's phlebotinum to pierce it, but for whatever reason the projection range is so limited that you're forced to melee.

Still, shells have one use remaining - Revolver Stakes!

Trizap
2009-07-09, 12:01 AM
Sounds like an AT Field; the melee weapons are able to pierce the barrier because you need to use the field's phlebotinum to pierce it, but for whatever reason the projection range is so limited that you're forced to melee.

Still, shells have one use remaining - Revolver Stakes!

maybe if the range is too far, it completely loses it strength, and it requires too much power to be sustained by batteries in the stakes?

Kalbron
2009-07-09, 12:02 AM
Regardless of anything else, you won't see the classical bi-pedal 20 foot tall robots fighting. Ever. The square-cubed law makes certain of that.

Trizap
2009-07-09, 12:03 AM
Regardless of anything else, you won't see the classical bi-pedal 20 foot tall robots fighting. Ever. The square-cubed law makes certain of that.

*smacks upside head*

quiet, or you will kill another catgirl.

The_JJ
2009-07-09, 12:16 AM
It's a legitimate point. We're more or less being asked to justify this via catgirl means.
Look at it this way, if you think up some crazy reason to fufil all of the above components, you're solution will be resting on a bed of similar problems.

This has never stopped anyone.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-09, 12:21 AM
Well, it could occur through the same means that keeps non-melee weapons from being used.

That is, exotic particles and fields come into play. Said particles actually reduce the apparent weight of the mobile suit, so that they don't sink into the ground. They're used in "structural integrity fields" that keep it from being as easily damaged. Said particles might also enable easier flight in atmosphere and out.

Plus, exotic alloys can always come into play for structure.

HamHam
2009-07-09, 12:35 AM
1) ECM advances beyond the ability of offensive systems to coup. Thus, laser and radar guidance, cruise missles, smart bombs, uavs, and all those other fancy modern toys become useless. Nothing more sophisticated then simple ballistics is possible.

2) The basic design of a giant robot is to place as much power into the hands of a single individual as possible. Thus, society has to be of a form that encourages this. So, basically feudalism.

Frosty
2009-07-09, 12:48 AM
Didn't this already happen in Gundam Dynastic Warriors?

Swordguy
2009-07-09, 01:11 AM
Check out BattleTech - they've already answered most of your questions for you. They even try to justify as much as possible with real-world science (with the understanding that some things just aren't explainable, and if you can't deal with that you should go play 40K or something).

However, there's one fact that really screws giant robots - their target profile. ANY giant robot inherently has more surface area than a tank. Therefore, for any given weight of armor, no matter how awesome it may be, a tank can mount it thicker (and thus more protective) for the same weight. There's simply no way around it.

For example: Assume a Mech has a surface area of 100 units, and a tank has a surface area of 50 units. If the Mech mounts 10 tons of armor that cover it uniformly to the depth of 2 inches, then the tank mounting 10 tons of armor will have an armor depth of 4 inches. QED, a Mech is inherently less armored than a tank of equal armor mass.

BattleTech has to jump through a LOT of hoops to make this work (tanks have a lot of arbitrary mass penalties to make them inferior to Mechs - but it's not as inferior as Mech-centric fans would like it to be).

factotum
2009-07-09, 01:31 AM
For example: Assume a Mech has a surface area of 100 units, and a tank has a surface area of 50 units. If the Mech mounts 10 tons of armor that cover it uniformly to the depth of 2 inches, then the tank mounting 10 tons of armor will have an armor depth of 4 inches. QED, a Mech is inherently less armored than a tank of equal armor mass.


But presumably the mech would be considerably more manoeuvrable than the tank, and you shouldn't discount that advantage--there are light scout vehicles all over the real world that dump armour in favour of speed, so they can get in and out without any of the enemy's big guns having much chance to hit them. (This was also the principle behind the battlecruiser, of course, where it didn't work so well--however, "fast and manoeuvrable" is a bit of a relative term when you're talking an 800 foot long ship weighing tens of thousands of tons!).

Swordguy
2009-07-09, 01:39 AM
But presumably the mech would be considerably more manoeuvrable than the tank, and you shouldn't discount that advantage--there are light scout vehicles all over the real world that dump armour in favour of speed, so they can get in and out without any of the enemy's big guns having much chance to hit them. (This was also the principle behind the battlecruiser, of course, where it didn't work so well--however, "fast and manoeuvrable" is a bit of a relative term when you're talking an 800 foot long ship weighing tens of thousands of tons!).

That was the thought behind BattleTech when it was written - no tank ever jumped up and down on another tank - but developments in warfare since 1984 have proven that theory wrong. What you can see, you can hit. Even if you can't see it, you can make a solid effort at hitting it anyway (with tandem-charge warheads, for example).

Modern targeting systems are simply that good.

And we aren't talking about space-bourne Gundams either (which exhibit delta-v that would snap the pilot's neck like a twig, to say nothing about their observed maneuvers in atmosphere, which would DEFINITLY, beyond a shadow of a doubt, kill the pilot). There's a maximum delta-v that a 20+ ton Mech can exhibit without overtaxing the frictional capacity of the ground it's standing on. And that delta-v is nowhere near enough to dodge missile or gunfire from a modern targeting computer.

Heck, a very large portion of the misses our tanks suffer in combat or exercises are due to human error or poor human reactions. If the computers were allowed to run the whole thing, they'd be FAR more accurate. Having a human hand at the control is (for now) considered to be more important than near-perfect accuracy.


Mechs might have made a LITTLE sense in the future of the 1980's, but they make next to none in the future of the 2000's, which is sad. Besides, you simply have to ignore the armor bit - I just felt remiss in not pointing it out, given the OP's statements.

Drascin
2009-07-09, 02:05 AM
And we aren't talking about space-bourne Gundams either (which exhibit delta-v that would snap the pilot's neck like a twig, to say nothing about their observed maneuvers in atmosphere, which would DEFINITLY, beyond a shadow of a doubt, kill the pilot). There's a maximum delta-v that a 20+ ton Mech can exhibit without overtaxing the frictional capacity of the ground it's standing on. And that delta-v is nowhere near enough to dodge missile or gunfire from a modern targeting computer.

Heck, a very large portion of the misses our tanks suffer in combat or exercises are due to human error or poor human reactions. If the computers were allowed to run the whole thing, they'd be FAR more accurate. Having a human hand at the control is (for now) considered to be more important than near-perfect accuracy.

Yeah, but as said, we're probably going with Gundam explanations of "computer tracking systems are so easily fooled/jammed it isn't even funny". You would need humans shooting those shells just by sight anyway, in this particular setting. And that rather makes a lot of difference.

Deadmeat.GW
2009-07-09, 05:08 AM
Some advancement that makes targeting systems obsolete would be needed and a new alloy that is light enough and strong enough that the humanoid robot is not too heavy to walk across most surfaces.

On top of this a mostly urbanized environment where being a tall robot that can crouch, climb, jump over a set of stairs and such would be a distinct enough advantage but even then the robot suits would be not much more then one person suits which are say max 15 to 20 feet tall.

Think the lighter mecha in Mechwarrior or the Heavy Gear battlesuits.
Especially the latter with the rollerblade type movement and the ability to crouch almost while rolling at high speeds (higher speed then the average tank and more manouverable so they have an equal footing to them but they compliment each other actually).

SlyGuyMcFly
2009-07-09, 06:41 AM
Yeah, but as said, we're probably going with Gundam explanations of "computer tracking systems are so easily fooled/jammed it isn't even funny". You would need humans shooting those shells just by sight anyway, in this particular setting. And that rather makes a lot of difference.

My thoughts exactly. If we assume that long-range targetting has somehow been rendered useless, you have to aim manually, and that pretty much means short range. Then you add in the forcefields/whatevers that make ordinary projectiles obsolete. Now you have to hit people with weapons that project their own high-powered phlebotinum field gens to cut through defensive fields. You canīt snipe, artillery doesnīt do anything, so you have to get in close. Meelee stuff becomes more attractive now, I think.

The energy requirements for these fields needs to be sufficient that it isnīt cost effective to stick them in a large bullet with a one-shot field that activates just before impact...

Or maybe make the generators big. As in, too large to fit in a projectile weapon. Maybe even too large to fit on an modern tank. You could still build a really big tank (and have an equivalent to Hannibalīs elephants) but a determined (and comparatively agile) mecha could run up to it and rip it up good with itīs sword. Basically, make the field generators such that fitting on anything smaller than a mech is impossible, and putting on a mech puts it on a very survivable frame, as only mechs can actually do stuff like block, parry and dodge attacks.

Mind, this kinda means stuff like javelins and arrows wonīt work. The main problem is that if you can put something on an arrowhead, you can put it on a large bullet. And we donīt want that.

Thoughts?

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 07:32 AM
@ Swordguy:

I understand all of these engineering problems, I've participated in Big Robot discussions here before. :smallwink:

My question is: how do we get around these problems? As I said, the solutions need not be physically possible, and phlebotinum is allowed.

Parra
2009-07-09, 09:54 AM
You could make the setting a post apocalypse style thing. Maybe after the stereotypical Nuclear War.

This could have several ramifications:

This allows you to rewrite the political landscape into anything you wanted. Making smaller countries and changing there governmental style to anything you chose (feudal for example)

Given the worlds drastically reduced populations this reduces the availability of resources (not enough people to farm, mine, work the factories etc), which in turn limits armies size (people are needed for other tasks to maintain the nation). Nations simply cant sustain armies in the thousands. Nor can they produce masses of tanks/choppers/etc, meaning the needed to develop a 'superior' vehicle with which to wage war that didnt need massive numbers to be effective.

Given super advances in alloys, the production of sufficiently advanced ballistics to piece these alloys is not economically viable. Basically it can be done but is too resource intensive. Given the limited resources available the expendable ordnance is discarded in favour of reusable weaponry (i.e. blades). This allows the mechs to operate without a constant supply line.

You could make laser technology simply be ineffective. Maybe the lasers are to big, require to much power or simply that they cant pack a big enough punch fast enough to pierce the super alloys.

People have a constant reminder of the horrors of nuclear war all around them so are either reluctant to use nuclear weapons again (so people have them but refuse to use them) or simply that the all the nuclear weapons were expended/destroyed during the war.

Given the background radiation that saturates the world, it requires people to remain inside protective zones aka domed cities, which due to there overcrowded nature (not to mention risk of damage to the Dome) dont allow mechs into the general population areas.
You could even say this radiation interferes with targeting equipment making long ranged combat ineffective at best (fuzzy one I know)

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 10:19 AM
Blatantly stolen from the Red Eyes manga:

1-Some time ago, the strongest nation of the world created a powerfull system of laser satelites to consolidate their power. Those satelites can shoot anything that flies too high in the sky, including ballistic missiles, high altitude planes, ect, ect.

2-Said super nation falls in chaos from inside.

3-Government colapses, the controls of the satelites are lost/destroyed.

4-Satelites however were programed that, in case they stop receiving orders, simply shoot down anything on Earth that flies too high. Self repair mechanisms and solar panels gives them an infinite life spawn.

5-With bombers, spy satelites, and long range missiles made obsolete, wars are now waged into trench warfare style. If you want to deliver a nuke, you'll have to carry it by hand.

6-In order to bypass the trenches, the military create bypedal machines that can bypass them and take a pounging, while tanks simply get stuck.

7-Said robots are agile enough to mean that it's a pain in the ass to effectively aim at them at long distance. Master snipers may be able to land a shot in one of them, but most of the time you'll have to get close to have a chance to hurt them.

8-Similarly, the high speed of the robots makes it hard for the pilot to aim while dodging the enemy fire. New powerfull melee weapons are developed for this kind of warfare.

9-?

10-Profit.

In this scenario, normal infantry with heavy weapons, tanks and basic artillery are still used, but the mechas are the stars of the battlefield, with everything else being suport and/or cannon fodder. An elite group of mechas is capable of curb stomping anything on their way unless they're horribly outnumbered(like 1 to 1000), quickly closing the distance with their wheeled legs and using their giant flaming/laser blades to cut a swath of destruction trough the enemy.

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 10:34 AM
Blatantly stolen from the Red Eyes manga:

1-Some time ago, the strongest nation of the world created a powerfull system of laser satelites to consolidate their power. Those satelites can shoot anything that flies too high in the sky, including ballistic missiles, high altitude planes, ect, ect.

2-Said super nation falls in chaos from inside.

3-Government colapses, the controls of the satelites are lost/destroyed.

4-Satelites however were programed that, in case they stop receiving orders, simply shoot down anything on Earth that flies too high. Self repair mechanisms and solar panels gives them an infinite life spawn.

5-With bombers, spy satelites, and long range missiles made obsolete, wars are now waged into trench warfare style. If you want to deliver a nuke, you'll have to carry it by hand.

6-In order to bypass the trenches, the military create bypedal machines that can bypass them and take a pounging, while tanks simply get stuck.

7-Said robots are agile enough to mean that it's a pain in the ass to effectively aim at them at long distance. Master snipers may be able to land a shot in one of them, but most of the time you'll have to get close to have a chance to hurt them.

8-Similarly, the high speed of the robots makes it hard for the pilot to aim while dodging the enemy fire. New powerfull melee weapons are developed for this kind of warfare.

9-?

10-Profit.

In this scenario, normal infantry with heavy weapons, tanks and basic artillery are still used, but the mechas are the stars of the battlefield, with everything else being suport and/or cannon fodder. An elite group of mechas is capable of curb stomping anything on their way unless they're horribly outnumbered(like 1 to 1000), quickly closing the distance with their wheeled legs and using their giant flaming/laser blades to cut a swath of destruction trough the enemy.

Those are excellent ideas for making big robots viable, but what will be necessary to make melee weapons viable?

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 10:58 AM
Those are excellent ideas for making big robots viable, but what will be necessary to make melee weapons viable?
Well that's the part where we really have to handwave it.

Because if we have the technology to build mechas, it really doesn't make much sense that we don't have the technology to build ranged weapons that can blast said mechas into tiny pieces at distance, even if computerized targeting systems can be easily cheated.

Ok, some ideas out of the top of my head:

1-Special fog: Some weapon of massive destruction gone horribly wrong has filled most of the planet with a neverending fog at ground level. It can be easily crossed, but it cannot pierced by any known technology, so while inside it you can only see a few inches in front of you. Ranged weapons become kind useless because you can't pinpoint anything. War becomes a game of cat and mouse where you stumble across the fog with your oversized sword ready to chop the first thing you find. Also shooting blindly is badly advised, because it will give away your position and may hit allies. Spears become suprisingly good.

Alternatively, the fog itself is a weapon deployed before each battle, wich allows a small group of mechas to confront and destroy a much larger regular force.

2-Imba force fields. Thanks to some pletobium, it's possible to create powerfull force fields that allow the robots to laugh at anything shot at them at high speed. However, the force fields don't block slow moving stuff, so if you get close enough, it's possible to stick your spear with an explosive point trough it to blast the other mecha to bits.

Mattarias, King.
2009-07-09, 11:16 AM
:smallconfused: I like how G Gundam went about it. Instead of war, have one single huge tournament where every country has their own robot and they duke it out until the one left standing wins his country control of the world. More or less. I think that'd solve a lot of problems, really.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 11:18 AM
:smallconfused: I like how G Gundam went about it. Instead of war, have one single huge tournament where every country has their own robot and they duke it out until the one left standing wins his country control of the world. More or less. I think that'd solve a lot of problems, really.

Because then it isn't warfare but an excuse for a series of one on one battles?

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 11:19 AM
So satellites that kill everything in the air + trench warfare (with trenches big enough to stop tanks) + either Dune- or Evangelion-style shielding that blocks ranged attacks better than melee weapons.

We missing anything here? Because this sounds pretty solid to me, although I might go with the classic Minovsky Jamming thing instead of the satellites because jet fighters with line-of-site missiles are still cool. That leaves in the problem of nukes, but those are ignored half the time in fiction anyway.

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 11:25 AM
I really don't know how to make this work, but I'll point out some flaws in other attempts to resolve these problems that I've seen.

Problem: Shutting down long range weaponry.

Solution 1: The Minovsky particle.
This fails because it only shuts down low-frequency EM radiation. This means that you can target something protected by it in a number of ways, such as a 'smart' bomb capable of recognizing the the shape of an enemy vehicle over the visible spectrum, or laser guided weapons, where the laser operates in at least the UV spectrum. Neither of these systems are extant at the moment as far as I know, the first one because it is very hard, and the second because there's no need for it.

Solution 2: Jamming being really, really good.
This is essentially solution 1 with worse technobable, since it still allows the targeting of weaponry using visible light- unless one actually posits cloaking fields. This would certainly be interesting, but would result in a bunch of invisible things running around confusedly and walking into each other. Good if you are going for comedy, less good otherwise. Sans cloaking fields however, a large robot would be easy pickings for infantry squads using laser designators to call in guided rocket strikes from support batteries in the rear.

Solution 3: Space satillite lasers.
This does take care of ICBMs, but leaves close air support completely fine. Close air support is what is really dangerous to most military units, not missiles lobbed from half a world away. Put another way, if I can't fly anything above 10,000 feet, I'll design aircraft that don't fly above 10,000 feet, then attack my 500lbs bombs to that.

Problem: Structural Engineering.
Solution 1: Ultra-light and strong alloys. Concievably this would allow you to make a mech work. The problems with it are two-fold. Firstly it allows the creation of really disturbingly well armored tanks, and secondly it gets us in no way closer to using melee weaponry. Sure you can argue that it's too expensive to design projectiles to piece said alloy, but this in now way suggests that it is cheaper (or even possible) to use a whacking great sword or hammer. Melee weapony, as a rule, has fairly poor penetration capabilities since it simply isn't going very fast- see this page (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impact_depth#Newton.27s_approximation_for_the_impa ct_depth). You can get around this to some extent with blade geometry and density, but fundamentally an AP round travelling 800m/s is going to put holes in stuff more effectively than a big old hammer.

Solution 2: Simply say, in the future this is possible.
AKA don't think about it too much. This works, but is, by construction, fairly braindead.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 11:26 AM
We missing anything here? Because this sounds pretty solid to me, although I might go with the classic Minovsky Jamming thing instead of the satellites because jet fighters with line-of-site missiles are still cool. That leaves in the problem of nukes, but those are ignored half the time in fiction anyway.

I think we're trying to get as much "rule of cool" free as possible here, and if fighter are available, then mechas simply drop to the second stage again, because air superiority just owns ground forces, even if you have to aim your bombs/missiles/autocannons by hand.

Also the satellites give an excuse for everybody being bashing at each others heads. The diferent nations are trying to gather enough scientists and technology to regain control of said satelities, becoming the unquestionable new lords of the world, if they just can get all the pieces togheter.

warty goblin: When I said my laser death satellites are programmed to shoot down anything too high, I'm not being very picky. The satellites will shoot down anything that is able to fly over the mechas pointy sticky reach.

Yes, this means even trying to build a building too tall will activate the death lazers from the sky. Ditto for the larger warships :smalltongue:

You can still design aircfrat to fly so low, but well, bombing missions sudenly become suicide missions, and I dare you to find pilots for them.

Trizap
2009-07-09, 11:28 AM
So satellites that kill everything in the air + trench warfare (with trenches big enough to stop tanks) + either Dune- or Evangelion-style shielding that blocks ranged attacks better than melee weapons.

We missing anything here? Because this sounds pretty solid to me, although I might go with the classic Minovsky Jamming thing instead of the satellites because jet fighters with line-of-site missiles are still cool. That leaves in the problem of nukes, but those are ignored half the time in fiction anyway.

nukes are guided missiles aren't they? the Minovsky Jamming thing would on them.

Trizap
2009-07-09, 11:34 AM
I think we're trying to get as much "rule of cool" free as possible here, and if fighter are available, then mechas simply drop to the second stage again, because air superiority just owns ground forces, even if you have to aim your bombs/missiles/autocannons by hand.


................dude the primary thing that keeps mecha standing is rule of cool, the rest is just justification and explanations that make it cool, remove rule of cool, and you end up with a piece of junk that is about as mobile as a turtle.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 11:35 AM
nukes are guided missiles aren't they? the Minovsky Jamming thing would on them.

Well, you can fire nuclear weapons and just rely on ballistics to hit the target, hence "Intercontinental Ballistic Missile" - radar guidance and the like is for fine control (not really necessary) and adjusting for wind shear and the like (can be automated).

I'll admit to you, warty, that I forgot about laser designators and the like. The traditional Minovsky Particle would not take care of those, true, even if it could be extended to the Ultraviolet+ range of the EM spectrum. In fact, I'm fairly certain UC Gundam used lasers for communications. Let's stick with Oslecamo's "no, not even helicopters" anti-aircraft space lasers.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 11:38 AM
................dude the primary thing that keeps mecha standing is rule of cool, the rest is just justification and explanations that make it cool, remove rule of cool, and you end up with a piece of junk that is about as mobile as a turtle.

Well, I think the purpose of this thread is to see how much rule of cool we can remove untill they indeed fall apart.

Because there's a certain diference between mechas taking cover and needing repairs and fuel, and mechas powered by the power of friendship painted with very bright colors and wich beat each other with punches.:smallsmile:

Nerd-o-rama:Indeed, remember those satelites were created as the ultimate weapon of supression, to assure their creators unquestionable air control over all the globe. Expenses were not spared and guys like Warty Goglin were hired to fill in the gaps to make sure they did their worck :smallbiggrin:

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 11:38 AM
and you end up with a piece of junk that is about as mobile as a turtle.

And what we're trying to do here is figuring out ways to make them NOT pieces of junk as mobile as a turtle without having to resort to, "lol robots".

UltraDude
2009-07-09, 11:40 AM
nukes are guided missiles aren't they? the Minovsky Jamming thing would on them.

Nukes are whatever the hell you stick a nuclear warhead to. Including suicide bombers.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-09, 11:41 AM
@Trizap: A nuclear explosive doesn't have to be in missile form. It could well be in a suitcase these days.

Preface: I think having some exotic particle with lots of properties depending on how you use it is the best middle ground between "pure hard science" and "rule of cool".

On Nukes: have jamming devices enacted in cities and military bases, as well as in mobile form on the battlefield, that use Exotic Particle, Form A, to essentially "muffle" a nuke to not being worth it. As in "no bigger than a 500lb bomb" muffled.

On Overall "Setting" Ideas: I like the satellite bit. Combine that with regular jamming, Exotic Particle, Form B, jamming, EP, Form C "refractive fields" to prevent laser aiming to have non-sight-based weaponry left.

On "No Ranged Weapons for Big Stuff": EP, Form C combines with EP, Form D to generate a kind of AT field type effect. Nothing without another similar field can pierce it. And the equipment to generate a field won't fit on anything less than mecha size.

On "No Mecha Sinking Into Ground": EP, Form E, combined with lightweight alloys, gives mecha better handling than tanks. Combo of weight lightening, micro-thrusters, low-level antigrav, etc. Mix and match here.

On "Why Big Mechs Again?": To keep a mech supplied with EP in all its glorious forms, you need a minimum-sized generator. EP, Form F is great for power generation anyways. A lot of space has various small converters for EP, turning it into the particular needed form of particle. You have to spread it out for the force fields.

Melee weapons have special linkups that let a field extend over them to pierce another field.

How's that?

Trizap
2009-07-09, 12:14 PM
And what we're trying to do here is figuring out ways to make them NOT pieces of junk as mobile as a turtle without having to resort to, "lol robots".

................so you basically are being too inflexible with realism to actually just come up with reasonable ways and explanations so that the premise can be achieved?

dude, its not all realism and logic, when designing a sci-fi setting you have to a be a little flexible, even with the hardest of settings.

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 12:31 PM
OK, so let's run with the Sky Lasers of Doom here.

Here's how I'd go about it.

1) The ordnance pretty much has to be lasers. Any projectile weapon can be run out of ammo, and nobody in their right mind would be resupplying them at this point in time.

2) In order to lock down airpower, the key isn't altitude, it would be momentum. You look for large things going fast, and shoot at them. If you simply looked at altutude, you'd spend a lot of energy setting fire to migrating geese*.

3) Even if you look for large things going fast, you still can't lock down really short range stuff such as rocket artillery, since the missile is likely to reach the target before the satillite has a lock on it.

4) Collateral is going to be a factor. It's very, very unlikely that you would have 100% accuracy, and even if you did, in order to insure target destruction, you'd want to use plenty of firepower. Some of that firepower is going to continue through the target and probably hit the ground**. Ergo a very evil person would fire lots of dummy missiles at an enemy position, carefully calculating the launch distance so that the satillites acquired and fired at said missiles when they where right over the enemy's heads. Air support by proxy in other words.

5) Like any active defense system, it could be overloaded, particularly for short range fire support. If it takes the satillites half a second to acquire and destroy a target, and I need to blow up something 5 seconds away, I simply fire off 11 or 12 missiles. Expensive as hell, but it would work. In addition, if they are solar powered, I'd speculate they would need to fire from batteries, since it would take disgustingly large solar panels to be able to continuosly fire such a laser. They would also need to be able to fire on locations where it is currently dark. Ergo you fire enough missiles, you drain the batteries and can fire even more missiles with impunity. Again, very expensive, but very, very hard to avoid.

6) In addition, it should be possible to build a missile that gets around all of this. Specifically a ballistic stealth missile. Well, not really ballistic, but close. As long as you make it have a very small radar signature (which can be done with currently extant technology), the satillites will be reduced to looking for heat signatures traveling fast. As previously indicated, they will by neccessity require some amount of time to acquire and fire at a target. So long as you keep the burn time on your engines shorter than this time, you would be, for practical purposes, invisible to the satillites***. Granted, that's not all that much powered burn time, but there's nothing preventing the missile from pulsing its engines in very short bursts. Between bursts regular airfoils could be used to make small, unpredictable changes to the missile's heading, making it a harder target to hit.

Now as the satillite designer, I'd obviously forsee this possibility, so I'd equip my eyes in the sky with the ability to 'connect the dots' of engine burn sequences, and then fire at the target just after a burn, since I'd have the best idea of where it would be then. It's still a shot in the dark though.

7) Side-effect. Naval power is once again king. Since this system makes it prohibitively expensive, if not practically impossible, to move goods by air, it's all about the cargo ship. In particular if you want to keep from being invaded, you build ships. Not aircraft carriers though. Just throwin' that out there.


*You could of course only set fire to things that fly higher than birds, but this still leaves plenty of room for attack helicopters carrying absolute gobs of hellfire missiles.

** This could be avoided by only firing your lasers at sufficiently obtuse angles to the earth's surface that the beam never actually comes into contact with the ground. If you do this, it means the beam has to travel through a lot of atmosphere resulting in loss of cohesion and energy to the air. This means that the satillite best positioned to carry out any particular fire mission is going to be the one closest to directly overhead, which means the laser is definitely going to hit the ground.

*** Or perhaps more accurately it would appear blurred out, rather like the spokes of a bicycle tire that is spinning very fast. You can see the spokes, but if I asked you to grab a particular one, you'd probably miss.

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 12:37 PM
dude, its not all realism and logic, when designing a sci-fi setting you have to a be a little flexible, even with the hardest of settings.

If I weren't being flexible I wouldn't have made this thread at all. :smallconfused: And I did say that phlebotinum is allowed, but preferably avoided if possible.

UltraDude
2009-07-09, 12:44 PM
In line with Warty Goblin's mention of cargo ships, I could imagine there having to be some sort of sea-combat going on. If we're taking ranged weapons out of the equation, how exactly would that work? Amphibious mechs battling undersea then hopping aboard like a metallic, spear-wielding dolphin-o'-doom could be fun.

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 12:49 PM
In line with Warty Goblin's mention of cargo ships, I could imagine there having to be some sort of sea-combat going on. If we're taking ranged weapons out of the equation, how exactly would that work? Amphibious mechs battling undersea then hopping aboard like a metallic, spear-wielding dolphin-o'-doom could be fun.

Speaking of sea battles, what about classical style boarding action? Stick a ramp connecting your ship to theirs, and let the havok begin. :smallamused:

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 12:52 PM
Speaking of sea battles, what about classical style boarding action? Stick a ramp connecting your ship to theirs, and let the havok begin. :smallamused:

Not until you find a way to stop Mr. Torpedo.

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 12:53 PM
True. I guess we'll need a way to render torpedoes obsolete, as well.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 12:57 PM
Expensive as hell, but it would work.
...
6) In addition, it should be possible to build a missile that gets around all of this. Specifically a ballistic stealth missile...


In case I didn't make it clear, the satellites were created by a faction with major scientific, industrial and economic advantage. They were decades ahead of whatever any other of the countries could produce.

When that society colapsed from whitin, a lot of industrial and technological capacity was lost with it. The brains died or were lost, the factories and labs were abandoned and transformed into other stuff.

Well excepting the genius dude who develops the mechas and their imba shields of course, wich thanks to plebonium are cheaper to produce than huge waves of missiles.

From the diferent nations that emerged, none has yet the capacity to overpower the death satellites, or at least to do so whitout seriously crippling themselves. They simply don't have the resources or time.

This also gives a reason for the nations to be bashing each other, as they try to get each other resources and knowledge to be able to ether regain control of the satelites or overpower/destroy them.




7) Side-effect. Naval power is once again king. Since this system makes it prohibitively expensive, if not practically impossible, to move goods by air, it's all about the cargo ship. In particular if you want to keep from being invaded, you build ships. Not aircraft carriers though. Just throwin' that out there.
Navy would indeed get an huge boost and become kings of the sea, but you still need something to fight far away from the land, and to capture cities whitount grinding them to dust with ship artillery.:smalltongue:




** This could be avoided by only firing your lasers at sufficiently obtuse angles to the earth's surface that the beam never actually comes into contact with the ground. If you do this, it means the beam has to travel through a lot of atmosphere resulting in loss of cohesion and energy to the air. This means that the satillite best positioned to carry out any particular fire mission is going to be the one closest to directly overhead, which means the laser is definitely going to hit the ground.

As a side note the guys paying the bill of the system decided to don't give a damn about colateral damage as long as the original target is hitted. They never expected to anyone to dare to attack their land directly when they could glass the attacking country with impunity

As a consequence, it's bunker spamming time! Your main defense against colateral satelite laser damage is holling inside the ground.

On torpedos: I simply say that all the main battles occur inside mainland so seawarfare is left outside. It's already hard enough to make ground combat worck after all.

thubby
2009-07-09, 01:01 PM
in a bit of a rush, so sorry if this was brought up, but i would say it would require some kind of super defensive technology. a force field or alloy or something that required so much point force that it could only be realistically generated at close range. welding torches on sticks kind of thing.

Thrawn183
2009-07-09, 01:14 PM
I'm gonna take a different approach than you guys.

1) We need a power source.
2) We need mechs to work on the ground.
3) We need mechs to be superior to tanks.
4) We need mechs and planes to be different somehow.
5) Weapons that utilize the power source, giving anything with it an advantage.

Idea! (only is apparent at point 3)
1) This power source has to be compact enough to fit into a mech but produce vast amounts of power. I'm thinking some form of cold fusion. If people can't invent minovsky particles, I'm happy with cold fusion.

2) The basic material of the mech has to be light. Really light. That's not really implausible is it? We just need something that's lighter than titanium and stronger as well (call it implausible, but then compare titanium to steel). Heck, it could be woven spider thread for all I care. If it ends up being strong enough, it also goes a long way towards reducing the damage taken from eplosives.

3) Mechs vs Tanks. The easiest way I can think of for this is simply having the power source not function right next to the ground. Maybe it can for a little while (so you're not screwed if you fall over), but maybe it can't, it would be cool to have mech combat be centered entirely around knocking the other guy over. Actually, that would be even better, knock it over, capture it, fix the engine and you get stronger after every battle. It would explain why melee combat is preferred to simply blasting away from range. Regardless, you need to get the power source away from the ground, hence a mech with legs design over a tank. You're putting a small target up high instead of a huge target that goes all the way to the ground.

4) Mechs different from airplanes. Alright, we have very strong but light armor, so we'll have to make the power source itself heavy enough to not work in fighter type aircraft. Maybe you can hop around a bit with a mech, but not be able to sustain flight in anything small.

This would make for strategic bomber type craft to become quite powerful (think the gigantic flying airships in the original gundam) but small fighters to not be any more powerful than than they already are.

5) Weapons. I'm thinking beam sabers and rifles. You'd have to play around with this a bit but, I'm thinking beam rifles would waste a huge amount of power or have to be charged or something like that, maybe they use exponentially less power the closer the range.

------

So what kind of world does this leave us with? By playing with how expensive mechs are in comparison to tanks changes the force composition. If you can only afford 10 mechs in your army, you're going to have issues actually holding any territory without your army. You'll might have situations where mechs determine who wins the battles, but they don't change the nature of an occupying force. We have reason for mechs to be trying to fight in close range, which will also lead to lots of tanks getting turned into swiss cheese via beam sabers. Navies would end up with awesome battleships. Though this could have some cool fights with mechs trying to get close enough to use their beam sabers to cut through the heavy armor before they get beam "cannon" rifled out of existence.

Unknown variables: I'm not sure how to explain tanks not loading rounds made of the same material as the mechs. This really is the point I keep coming back to. The only solution that I come up with that isn't something akin to minovsky particles or the like to prevent long distance targetting would be polarized hull plating available akin to Star Trek: Enterprise. This would actually explain mechs being hugely more durable then anything else, but also make the only way to take out large targets feasible would be with close range combat like beam sabers.

Well, that's my take for now. Except nukes. Just say nobody uses nukes.... because nobody's dumb enough to?

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 01:29 PM
In case I didn't make it clear, the satellites were created by a faction with major scientific, industrial and economic advantage. They were decades ahead of whatever any other of the countries could produce.

When that society colapsed from whitin, a lot of industrial and technological capacity was lost with it. The brains died or were lost, the factories and labs were abandoned and transformed into other stuff.

Well excepting the genius dude who develops the mechas and their imba shields of course, wich thanks to plebonium are cheaper to produce than huge waves of missiles.

The thing is, no matter your powers of plot, mechs are still manufactured. They also have a lot of finely machined parts and precision electronics, which are expensive and difficult. Ballistic missiles however are perfectly manufacturable with, say, WWII technology, and are cheap enough now that a wide variety of second world nations can afford them. Now ballistic missiles are the most vulnerable sorts to the Sky Lasers of Doom due to predictable courses and long flight times, but tactical missiles such as rocket artillery are really quite affordable.

Dummy missiles are even cheaper, you just strap an engine to a big old wing and shoot the sucker off. As highlighted in my airpower by proxy scenario, this doesn't even have to be a waste.


From the diferent nations that emerged, none has yet the capacity to overpower the death satellites, or at least to do so whitout seriously crippling themselves. They simply don't have the resources or time.

None of the methods I underlined require overcoming or controlling the satillites, but are logical subversions using existing or plausible technology.




Navy would indeed get an huge boost and become kings of the sea, but you still need something to fight far away from the land, and to capture cities whitount grinding them to dust with ship artillery.:smalltongue:
Oh land forces are still relevant, but only after your navy has failed. Look at Britain for an aweful lot of history- it didn't have an army of note, because the Navy was simply more efficient.



As a side note the guys paying the bill of the system decided to don't give a damn about colateral damage as long as the original target is hitted. They never expected to anyone to dare to attack their land directly when they could glass the attacking country with impunity

As a consequence, it's bunker spamming time! Your main defense against colateral satelite laser damage is holling inside the ground.



On torpedos: I simply say that all the main battles occur inside mainland so seawarfare is left outside. It's already hard enough to make ground combat worck after all.

This doesn't work for a variety of reasons. Trade is fairly inevitable, which means at some point you are going to end up with people importing food and war materiel by sea. In order to fight these people, it is most efficient, indeed neccessary*, to interrupt this flow of goods. The smart way to do this is with warships, and the smart way to prevent this from occuring is with warships. And right there you have naval battles, or at least the possibility of them.

*It's arguable that Germany lost both world wars through some variety of this. The first due to being blockaded, and the second due to failing to keep U.S. Lend-lease materiel from reaching the U.S.S.R.. If the Kreigsmarine had managed to do so, it is arguable that the Red Army would have collapsed in 1942 or 1943, allowing the Wehrmacht to capture most of Russia. This in turn might have given the 3rd Reich sufficient capital to defeat the Royal Navy and RAF in the channel, and so invade Britain.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-09, 01:48 PM
@Trizap: A nuclear explosive doesn't have to be in missile form. It could well be in a suitcase these days.

Preface: I think having some exotic particle with lots of properties depending on how you use it is the best middle ground between "pure hard science" and "rule of cool".

On Nukes: have jamming devices enacted in cities and military bases, as well as in mobile form on the battlefield, that use Exotic Particle, Form A, to essentially "muffle" a nuke to not being worth it. As in "no bigger than a 500lb bomb" muffled.

On Overall "Setting" Ideas: I like the satellite bit. Combine that with regular jamming, Exotic Particle, Form B, jamming, EP, Form C "refractive fields" to prevent laser aiming to have non-sight-based weaponry left.

On "No Ranged Weapons for Big Stuff": EP, Form C combines with EP, Form D to generate a kind of AT field type effect. Nothing without another similar field can pierce it. And the equipment to generate a field won't fit on anything less than mecha size.

On "No Mecha Sinking Into Ground": EP, Form E, combined with lightweight alloys, gives mecha better handling than tanks. Combo of weight lightening, micro-thrusters, low-level antigrav, etc. Mix and match here.

On "Why Big Mechs Again?": To keep a mech supplied with EP in all its glorious forms, you need a minimum-sized generator. EP, Form F is great for power generation anyways. A lot of space has various small converters for EP, turning it into the particular needed form of particle. You have to spread it out for the force fields.

Melee weapons have special linkups that let a field extend over them to pierce another field.

How's that?

*Coughs*

Any thoughts?:smallconfused:

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 01:54 PM
I'm gonna take a different approach than you guys.

1) We need a power source.
2) We need mechs to work on the ground.
3) We need mechs to be superior to tanks.
4) We need mechs and planes to be different somehow.
5) Weapons that utilize the power source, giving anything with it an advantage.

Idea! (only is apparent at point 3)
1) This power source has to be compact enough to fit into a mech but produce vast amounts of power. I'm thinking some form of cold fusion. If people can't invent minovsky particles, I'm happy with cold fusion.

2) The basic material of the mech has to be light. Really light. That's not really implausible is it? We just need something that's lighter than titanium and stronger as well (call it implausible, but then compare titanium to steel). Heck, it could be woven spider thread for all I care. If it ends up being strong enough, it also goes a long way towards reducing the damage taken from eplosives.

3) Mechs vs Tanks. The easiest way I can think of for this is simply having the power source not function right next to the ground. Maybe it can for a little while (so you're not screwed if you fall over), but maybe it can't, it would be cool to have mech combat be centered entirely around knocking the other guy over. Actually, that would be even better, knock it over, capture it, fix the engine and you get stronger after every battle. It would explain why melee combat is preferred to simply blasting away from range. Regardless, you need to get the power source away from the ground, hence a mech with legs design over a tank. You're putting a small target up high instead of a huge target that goes all the way to the ground.

What's wrong with running my tanks off of gasoline or diesel engines? It's worked just fine for the better part of a hundred years now. With the ultralight armor you hypothesize, I can carry sufficient armor to defend against any weapon as well as a mech of equivilent tonnage, and still have room for a whacking great gun. Either that or a lot of armor piercing missiles.

In addition, if your mechs catastrophically fail when knocked over, I'm going to start building lots of earthquake bombs (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earthquake_bomb), and outfit my artillery with fuel-air explosives on airbust fuses set to detonate at about chest level to a mech. It's like a hammer, but one you use from 10 kilometers away.


4) Mechs different from airplanes. Alright, we have very strong but light armor, so we'll have to make the power source itself heavy enough to not work in fighter type aircraft. Maybe you can hop around a bit with a mech, but not be able to sustain flight in anything small.


This would make for strategic bomber type craft to become quite powerful (think the gigantic flying airships in the original gundam) but small fighters to not be any more powerful than than they already are.


Mechs are different from airplanes because the former has horrible aerodynamics, while the latter, by construction, does not. Also, if it's light enough to be put into a mech that can walk on something besides reinforced concrete, it's light enough to be put onto an airplane, even a small(ish) one. Also even if you do leave air power at its present level, it is more than enough to render mechs worthless. Thousand pound bombs screw stuff up real good.


5) Weapons. I'm thinking beam sabers and rifles. You'd have to play around with this a bit but, I'm thinking beam rifles would waste a huge amount of power or have to be charged or something like that, maybe they use exponentially less power the closer the range.
None of these have any basis in reality.
------


So what kind of world does this leave us with? By playing with how expensive mechs are in comparison to tanks changes the force composition. If you can only afford 10 mechs in your army, you're going to have issues actually holding any territory without your army. You'll might have situations where mechs determine who wins the battles, but they don't change the nature of an occupying force. We have reason for mechs to be trying to fight in close range, which will also lead to lots of tanks getting turned into swiss cheese via beam sabers. Navies would end up with awesome battleships. Though this could have some cool fights with mechs trying to get close enough to use their beam sabers to cut through the heavy armor before they get beam "cannon" rifled out of existence.

I'm all for awesome battleships, but why on earth would you try to take them out with mechs? That's what another battleship is for.


Unknown variables: I'm not sure how to explain tanks not loading rounds made of the same material as the mechs. This really is the point I keep coming back to. The only solution that I come up with that isn't something akin to minovsky particles or the like to prevent long distance targetting would be polarized hull plating available akin to Star Trek: Enterprise. This would actually explain mechs being hugely more durable then anything else, but also make the only way to take out large targets feasible would be with close range combat like beam sabers.
If the material is light, that's not the worry, since mass is pretty much the key to penetrating most materials. What you have to worry about is a tank firing a shell plated in your ultra-hard alloy, but with a tungsten or depleted uranium core.

And again, if you can see it, you can shoot it, possibly with guided weaponry. Certainly by simply aiming at it and pulling the trigger. Knocked out by a laser guided missile from 10 kilometers, or an AP round aimed with conventional sights from 500 meters, it really doesn't matter if your effective combat range is only 10 meters.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 02:08 PM
The thing is, no matter your powers of plot, mechs are still manufactured. They also have a lot of finely machined parts and precision electronics, which are expensive and difficult. Ballistic missiles however are perfectly manufacturable with, say, WWII technology, and are cheap enough now that a wide variety of second world nations can afford them. Now ballistic missiles are the most vulnerable sorts to the Sky Lasers of Doom due to predictable courses and long flight times, but tactical missiles such as rocket artillery are really quite affordable.

Dummy missiles are even cheaper, you just strap an engine to a big old wing and shoot the sucker off. As highlighted in my airpower by proxy scenario, this doesn't even have to be a waste.

None of the methods I underlined require overcoming or controlling the satillites, but are logical subversions using existing or plausible technology.

Well, guess we'll have to do one of the two following:
1-There's a lot of death satellities, and they're armed with really big batteries and devastating rate of fire thanks to the technological superiority, so unless you manage to shoot all of the world's arsenal at the first time, nothing's gonna go trough.

Yes, this means that even the mechas will run in pre-historical technology compared to the stuff used to create the satellites.


2-The sattelites have state of the art recongition technology and can detect if anything bigger than a bird flying is worth shooting down or not thanks to super fast analysis systems to detect explosive subtances and whatnot.



Oh land forces are still relevant, but only after your navy has failed. Look at Britain for an aweful lot of history- it didn't have an army of note, because the Navy was simply more efficient.

Not really true. Englishes had a very strong land force to back up their navy, and with that they almost conquered France.

Look at longbowmen. Every english man had to train the bow every weekend by law. And with that they shooted down a fullplated cavarly charge in a crushing victory for the english.

During the napoleonic wars, english soldiers barricated themselves in Portugal, and then proceeded to start pushing the frenches back, under the command of Artur(no, not the sword swinging one).



This doesn't work for a variety of reasons. Trade is fairly inevitable, which means at some point you are going to end up with people importing food and war materiel by sea. In order to fight these people, it is most efficient, indeed neccessary*, to interrupt this flow of goods. The smart way to do this is with warships, and the smart way to prevent this from occuring is with warships. And right there you have naval battles, or at least the possibility of them.

Then just let the warships bash each other and focus on the mechas bashing each other right? Warships cannot engage mechas deep in land and mechas can't engage ships deep in the sea, point.

Also, people can trade by land, and since the creation of the train, it's almost as effecient as ship trading. If you want to sucessfully blockade someone, you need to blockade them by land as well, unless they're an island like England.

And countries like Cuba and Vietnam showed that a stubborn enough enemy may be faced with complete naval superiority from their enemies and still resist to being conquered.



*It's arguable that Germany lost both world wars through some variety of this. The first due to being blockaded, and the second due to failing to keep U.S. Lend-lease materiel from reaching the U.S.S.R.. If the Kreigsmarine had managed to do so, it is arguable that the Red Army would have collapsed in 1942 or 1943, allowing the Wehrmacht to capture most of Russia. This in turn might have given the 3rd Reich sufficient capital to defeat the Royal Navy and RAF in the channel, and so invade Britain.

Take a moment to look at a world map. You see that really big chunck of land? That's Russia. How in the 9 hells can you blockade that?
You simply cannot(and if you could, it would probably a more effecient use of your resources to simply conquer the rest of the world first). Every time Russia gets invaded, the attacker ends up grinding itself to defeat when the russian forces have plenty of space to fallback to, and then your own supply lines start to be dangerously stretched, and then the winter arrives and you realize the russians are gonna kick your ass so hard people will be making movies out of it for decades to come.

Talkkno
2009-07-09, 02:39 PM
Take a moment to look at a world map. You see that really big chunck of land? That's Russia. How in the 9 hells can you blockade that?
You simply cannot(and if you could, it would probably a more effecient use of your resources to simply conquer the rest of the world first). Every time Russia gets invaded, the attacker ends up grinding itself to defeat when the russian forces have plenty of space to fallback to, and then your own supply lines start to be dangerously stretched, and then the winter arrives and you realize the russians are gonna kick your ass so hard people will be making movies out of it for decades to come.

Because most of Russia's coastline is effectively useless during the winter.

warty goblin
2009-07-09, 02:44 PM
Well, guess we'll have to do one of the two following:
1-There's a lot of death satellities, and they're armed with really big batteries and devastating rate of fire thanks to the technological superiority, so unless you manage to shoot all of the world's arsenal at the first time, nothing's gonna go trough.

Dummy missiles are a lot of fun, and fairly cheap. Also, as previously pointed out, I can use the satillites to my advantage by getting them to bombard the enemy for me. In fact, given the assumed technological superiority of said satillites, they might just do a better job of it.


Yes, this means that even the mechas will run in pre-historical technology compared to the stuff used to create the satellites.


2-The sattelites have state of the art recongition technology and can detect if anything bigger than a bird flying is worth shooting down or not thanks to super fast analysis systems to detect explosive subtances and whatnot.
Simply not possible. It takes time to do mass spectography to figure out what something is, and you need to see it in order to do so. Most missiles don't have their payload uncovered. Sure their are bomb sniffing devices, but they all rely on proximity and air*. The satillites are in space, which is both far away and airless.

* I am aware that air is not strictly neccessary for a chemical detector to work, however any trace explosives from a missile will be in the air, and hence not in high orbit.



Not really true. Englishes had a very strong land force to back up their navy, and with that they almost conquered France.

Almost only counts in horseshoes and handgrenades.

Then just let
the warships bash each other and focus on the mechas bashing each other right? Warships cannot engage mechas deep in land and mechas can't engage ships deep in the sea, point.
My point is that a lot of the time, warships are strategically more relevant in many ways than armies. A lot of nations throughout history have relied on seaborn trade, and an aweful lot of wars have been fought over sea rights for this reason.


Also, people can trade by land, and since the creation of the train, it's almost as effecient as ship trading. If you want to sucessfully blockade someone, you need to blockade them by land as well, unless they're an island like England.
Unless, there's an ocean in the way. Given how much of the planet is water, this happens with unsurprising frequency. Look at the U.S. in the last hundred years or so- every war we've fought has been overseas. The Brittish Empire was pretty much built on the Royal Navy, if it hadn't controlled the oceans, the strength of England's army would have been irrelevant since the entire country could have been starved into submission without landing a single soldier. Not coincidently this is why Germany built so many submarines in the first half of the 20th century. This came very close to happening to Japan in WWII as well, and indeed the naval blockade did destroy that nation's warfighting potential, not airial bombardment or MacArthur storming islands in the Pacific.


And countries like Cuba and Vietnam showed that a stubborn enough enemy may be faced with complete naval superiority from their enemies and still resist to being conquered.
And the Cuban and Vietnamese empires are where exactly?

Historically, it has pretty much always taken naval supremacy to be a dominant power, and powers with naval supremacy tend not to lose wars. Hence if you want to capture the significant battles of a large scale war, they are very, very likely to be naval ones.



Take a moment to look at a world map. You see that really big chunck of land? That's Russia. How in the 9 hells can you blockade that?
You simply cannot(and if you could, it would probably a more effecient use of your resources to simply conquer the rest of the world first). Every time Russia gets invaded, the attacker ends up grinding itself to defeat when the russian forces have plenty of space to fallback to, and then your own supply lines start to be dangerously stretched, and then the winter arrives and you realize the russians are gonna kick your ass so hard people will be making movies out of it for decades to come.

Germany didn't need to blockade the entirety of Russia, it needed blockade Russia's western ports on the Artic Ocean, since that's where most of the aid was coming through. Had they been able to do so, there is a very non-trivial chance that the Red Army and Russian economy would simply have collapsed- Stalin himself said that without U.S. aid Russia wouldn't have survived the war.

Let's be honest here, Russia didn't win by kicking German ass, they won by simply out-producing Germany. In every major engagement on the eastern front at least through 1945, Russian forces took more casualties and suffered more materiel losses. This isn't to say that the Wehrmacht didn't commit some massive military ****-ups, because it clearly did, or that Russia didn't do the most damage to the German military, because it clearly did. However it's a fairly arguable point that Russia only was able to do so through ship-born foreign aid.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 03:20 PM
And the Cuban and Vietnamese empires are where exactly?Cuba and Vietnam, respectively, in spite of the best efforts of an extremely large and powerful nation-state with an extremely large and powerful navy.

Wars may be won at sea, through means of economics or intimidation, but you still need boots on the ground to physically seize territory or resources.

Thrawn183
2009-07-09, 03:35 PM
Yeah, that's why I was talking about using the beam weapons. If the mechs don't have clearly superior weaponry, then what's the point if you can just stick the weaponry on the tanks? At the same time, if the mechs have awesome long range weapons... well then we lost out on the "classical-style melee warfare" we were aiming for.

I think that's the crux of the issue. It's tough to justify a single weapons platform that invalidates all others.

Though, nicely in my world, the best stuff doesn't work underwater. So super armor vs. torpedoes becomes a much more survivable possibility.

Swordguy
2009-07-09, 03:53 PM
OK - leaving the realm of physics for a moment:

I'd simply use a projected, essentially impenetrable shield that can be carried by the Mech - but it can only protect in 1 direction at once (due to "insert tech explanation here"; I prefer power limitations). Because pilots can react more smoothly and quickly to an anthropomorphic construction, the shield projector is carried in the hand (or IS the hand) of the Mech - this gives the pilot a lot of fine control over the direction of the shield. There's a maximum size the shield can be (again, power concerns), but the shield projects a large enough field that the Mech can easily shelter behind it to defend against enemy fire. The size of the shield denotes the maximum size of your desired Mechs.

Melee combat is thus necessary because you have to close with the enemy and get around the shield. Guns can still be effective if you can flank the enemy and throw down enfilade fire, but melee is a simpler and more reliable method, thus every Mech will mount a melee weapon AND a ranged weapon (for when it becomes necessary).

Tanks, naturally, can still project these shields. But Mechs can get around them easier, or simply flip the tank upside down and put a round into their essentially unarmored underbelly. In a Mech v Tank action, the Mech runs forward while both units have their shield up, negating long-range fire unless the tank is REALLY luck and manages to slip a shot into the Mech's feet. Mech closes in, moves to the flank (keeping the shield between him and the tank), reaches around the shield and flips the tank over. Done. Under those conditions, I could see the argument for not using tanks at all.

Air power still exists, but can't mount the shields. If they can hit the Mech from a direction it isn't pointing the shield, they'll hurt it, but they can get swatted out of the air pretty easily in return.

Thoughts?

KnightDisciple
2009-07-09, 03:54 PM
Yeah, that's why I was talking about using the beam weapons. If the mechs don't have clearly superior weaponry, then what's the point if you can just stick the weaponry on the tanks? At the same time, if the mechs have awesome long range weapons... well then we lost out on the "classical-style melee warfare" we were aiming for.

I think that's the crux of the issue. It's tough to justify a single weapons platform that invalidates all others.

Though, nicely in my world, the best stuff doesn't work underwater. So super armor vs. torpedoes becomes a much more survivable possibility.

I tried coming up with steps to get there. (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6464029&postcount=36)

I'm not trying to toot my own horn, but I really am curious what others think of those concepts.

Edit: @Swordguy: That's not too bad. Definitely one of the more workable methods.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 04:07 PM
For awesome melee combat writ-large, why not steal from Frank Herbert and have the sheilds only work against fast moving objects (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Holtzman_effect)? That way, big slow fists, or swords, or whatever, penetrate, while things like missiles and projectiles can be shrugged off and rendered useless. Keep or leave the laser=nuke reaction. To do so means leaving anything like reality choking in your dust, however.

13_CBS
2009-07-09, 04:41 PM
Awesome ideas, folks! Keep 'em coming. :smallbiggrin:


Okay, I really need to address Knight's stuff, he's been unfairly neglected for while...



Preface: I think having some exotic particle with lots of properties depending on how you use it is the best middle ground between "pure hard science" and "rule of cool".


I think I'll agree with you there. It's a nice compromise between "physics says it's not possible" and "lol robots".



On Nukes: have jamming devices enacted in cities and military bases, as well as in mobile form on the battlefield, that use Exotic Particle, Form A, to essentially "muffle" a nuke to not being worth it. As in "no bigger than a 500lb bomb" muffled.


Sounds good, though for the record I think the current policy on nuclear bombardment is usually to target the enemy's nuclear facilities first (though the jamming device can easily be placed on said facilities as well).



On Overall "Setting" Ideas: I like the satellite bit. Combine that with regular jamming, Exotic Particle, Form B, jamming, EP, Form C "refractive fields" to prevent laser aiming to have non-sight-based weaponry left.


Alright.



On "No Ranged Weapons for Big Stuff": EP, Form C combines with EP, Form D to generate a kind of AT field type effect. Nothing without another similar field can pierce it. And the equipment to generate a field won't fit on anything less than mecha size.


And to further that, perhaps the generators for such a device is too big to be mounted on a line-of-sight missile as well?



On "No Mecha Sinking Into Ground": EP, Form E, combined with lightweight alloys, gives mecha better handling than tanks. Combo of weight lightening, micro-thrusters, low-level antigrav, etc. Mix and match here.


But then there's the old question of, "Why not give all that to tanks?". :smallconfused: This stuff can definitely fix some of the engineering issues for big robots, but not the logistical issue of "why not tanks instead".

[qupte]
On "Why Big Mechs Again?": To keep a mech supplied with EP in all its glorious forms, you need a minimum-sized generator. EP, Form F is great for power generation anyways. A lot of space has various small converters for EP, turning it into the particular needed form of particle. You have to spread it out for the force fields.
[/quote]

Makes sense, but there's still the tank issue...


Interesting ideas! :smallbiggrin: However, I think we still need to address the issue of "big robots replacing tanks", Knight.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-09, 04:52 PM
Basically, any large-sized area that's important, and fixed in location, has a nuke jammer.

Ah, but to pierce the field, you require what is, in essence, a melee weapon. Similar to how I understand NGE to work with AT fields, an EP field is required to pierce an EP field. Melee weapons would have a continuous feed of "field energy" as it were.

A tank can't really wield that effectively. You could put a spike on the front of one, I suppose, but...A mecha shape is much, much better for melee combat.

It'd require some sort of neural interface system. Probably something more realistic overall than G-Gundam, but more like that than "two slide joysticks control a human shape precisely".

On fitting it on a missile: That's a big-*** missile, then, since the generator to put out the raw particles is one bit, and the various converters are all separate bits. Again, a fair amount of the mecha's internal space goes to this stuff.

Now, you could make a tank with most of this that's great for defensive, anti-vehicle use. Because tanks might be able to mount most of it. But Mecha then kill tanks, since only melee weapons pierce the EP shield, and mecha are way better at handling melee weapons.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-09, 06:28 PM
Uh, I'm not familiar with Red Eyes at all, so I have a bit of a question about that satellite death laser system. Wouldn't it be possible for a plane to fly even 20 feet off the ground? Having worked next door to an airport for over a decade, I can see that in my mind, but I have no idea where to start google-fu-ing for a minimum altitude for aircraft. The point is, if the death lasers are as sensitive as you're saying they are, they'd certainly be capable of hitting a mech if it ever jumps, and you'd probably have no buildings taller than two stories. The, uh, building-height problem isn't really that big of a deal, could be an awesome thing for setting of the story, everyone living underground and all, but jumping and having the high ground might happen in melee warfare.

Maybe the system's just programmed to detect aircrafts, and uses some artificial intelligence whatchamacallit algorithm so it "learns" that unidentified blips on its radar are aircrafts. Then maybe you have another leg to stand on with mechs, the design is so unconventional that the system can't process the information. Maybe.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 07:23 PM
Maybe the system's just programmed to detect aircrafts, and uses some artificial intelligence whatchamacallit algorithm so it "learns" that unidentified blips on its radar are aircrafts. Then maybe you have another leg to stand on with mechs, the design is so unconventional that the system can't process the information. Maybe.
Yeah, but if war has taught me anything, it's that temporary advantages are just that, temporary. After the first time one side gets raided by mech, they're going to be scrambling to work out a way to input mech data into the system as well. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I don't see how if they have a means of recognizing aeroplanes, they couldn't upgrade the system for mechs too. There would certainly be a great impetus to do so, even if it meant reprogramming the AI from first principles.
To not do so would be one large, huge, gargantuan, and colossal idiot ball.

UltraDude
2009-07-09, 07:27 PM
Yeah, but if war has taught me anything, it's that temporary advantages are just that, temporary. After the first time one side gets raided by mech, they're going to be scrambling to work out a way to input mech data into the system as well. "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I don't see how if they have a means of recognizing aeroplanes, they couldn't upgrade the system for mechs too. There would certainly be a great impetus to do so, even if it meant reprogramming the AI from first principles.
To not do so would be one large, huge, gargantuan, and colossal idiot ball.

I think the whole point of the satellites is that no one left on Earth can access them; all existing interfaces have been destroyed and they're running automatically.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-09, 07:28 PM
After the first time one side gets raided by mech, they're going to be scrambling to work out a way to input mech data into the system as well.
Well, according to Oslecamo's post, which I believe was when the concept was first brought up, the nation that designed and put up the system is, well, dead from inner turmoil. I'm speaking as a Computer Science student now, it's pretty difficult to change the programming of anything if you know nothing about it.

Edit: Get another ninja in here and I'll bring the pirates. :smallannoyed:

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 07:41 PM
I think the whole point of the satellites is that no one left on Earth can access them; all existing interfaces have been destroyed and they're running automatically.
Hmm, didn't read that part. I thought various defence system was part of the defense systems of various nations ,not some uncontrolled ancient weapon.
Still, if laser can penetrate the atmosphere and destroy targets, then a laser from the ground can reach up and smack satellites about. Just build most of it underground, and BLAM as a certain piece of pop-art would say, the satellite is scrap. If we are building giant mechs, which I think would have very high precision and power requirements, then it would be almost anachronistic for this technology not to be available, especially since it had been at least in the past.

Oslecamo
2009-07-09, 07:49 PM
To not do so would be one large, huge, gargantuan, and colossal idiot ball.

They're dead, Jim. The seting assumes that the satelite creators/controlers were either killed/destroyed or went missing after the nation that created them colapsed from inside.

So nobody has the tools to reconfigure the death laser system. They're fuctioning in full auto mode, whitout humanity being able to control or even influence them anymore.

Also nobody has the tools to build more of this kind of technology. The only giant lasers of death are in orbit.

Well I'm glad anyway people liked the satelites idea. I think it has lots of potential once we trim out the details.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 08:18 PM
Also nobody has the tools to build more of this kind of technology. The only giant lasers of death are in orbit.

3 words
Research.
And.
Development.
Seriously, in war, science, or at least engineering, advance at a huge rate. Look at world war one. At the start, aeroplanes were rickety scouts with little to no armament. By the end, they were flying higher, faster, more maneuverable and were better armed and constructed. SO sorry, super secret ancient technology, makes no sense.
Instead of going for giant mecha, go for broke on the lasers. You already know they CAN exist, so that's a huge advantage right there. For many years, it was thought the four minute miles was impossible. Only 46 days after it was beat the first time by Roger Bannister, John Landy broke it again. Sure, it would be hells all expensive. but so are mechs. And it's still a better weapon then one that can be taken down by a cable stretched between two boulders.

BarroomBard
2009-07-09, 08:31 PM
Alright, I'm going to try working on the issue of shielding and melee weapons.

First, the best option is definitely Herbert's force fields. Anything moving faster than the speed of sound will be deflected, so the fields can only be pierced by slow-moving objects, like a swinging sword or stabbing spear. The size of the field is really irrelevant.

Going back to an earlier post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6461555&postcount=14), arguing about the surface area of tanks vs. the surface area of mechs, the mechs cannot carry enough armor to make them worth it. Unless- you give the mechs an actual, specially hardened shield. Thus, we get the image of classical warriors in a phalanx, which will also protect against infantry-carried rocket launchers.

Lasers: perhaps lasers are simply too energy-hungry. It is not possible to carry a generator big enough for both an anti-impact field and a laser weapon of any consequence on a mech. This will allow tanks to actually have a purpose, i.e. the light infantry of this world. The lasers are powerful enough to harm a mech, but take a long time to cut through the shields they carry.

Nukes: I don't think we need to put too much thought into anti-nuke technology. There is sufficient historical evidence to suggest that nukes are not worth the trouble of actually using them. We currently have no really good anti-nuke defenses, and yet this doesn't seem too big a deal.

Berserk Monk
2009-07-09, 08:44 PM
Four words: Shadow of the Colossus

True, there not robots, by an animated, vaguely animal/human shaped hunk of rock and earth is the medieval equivalent of a robot.

You know, I actually have an idea for a video game that combines Shadow of the Colossus and Gurren Lagann. The game would be based around either using magic to improve your colossus or stealing a more powerful one.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 08:45 PM
Nukes are a deterrent to conventional warfare, though. Since the mass-proliferation of intercontinental-firing nuclear weapons, no two nuclear-equipped nations have gone to war with each other at all, and wars in general have gotten far smaller in scale than they were before the atom bomb was developed.

The idea of having magical or even steam-powered (using Heron's Engine, perhaps) mecha in the feudal, pre-gunpowder age also has merit, but will almost certainly need to run on basically magic.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 08:52 PM
Nukes are a deterrent to conventional warfare, though. Since the mass-proliferation of intercontinental-firing nuclear weapons, no two nuclear-equipped nations have gone to war with each other at all, and wars in general have gotten far smaller in scale than they were before the atom bomb was developed.

Yes, but there has been client wars, where one or more nations heavily support one or more combatants. The Vietnam and Korean wars spring to mind.



The idea of having magical or even steam-powered (using Heron's Engine, perhaps) mecha in the feudal, pre-gunpowder age also has merit, but will almost certainly need to run on basically magic.
They would need magic just to stand, let alone do anything.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 09:32 PM
Yes, but there has been client wars, where one or more nations sides heavily support one or more combatants. The Vietnam and Korean wars spring to mind.

Hardly conventional wars, except in the case of the Korean war which was at the very beginning of the atomic era, and even then, not so much.

BarroomBard
2009-07-09, 09:33 PM
Go Mer-mechs!

Ravens_cry
2009-07-09, 09:51 PM
Hardly conventional wars, except in the case of the Korean war which was at the very beginning of the atomic era, and even then, not so much.
I though a conventional war (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conventional_war) was one fought without WMD, chemical, biological, or nuclear.
Am I wrong?

Thrawn183
2009-07-09, 10:19 PM
I think he's talking about large scale/not concentrated on guerilla tactics.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-09, 11:02 PM
No war that America has been involved in, at least, since 1945 has been a conventional one, because we haven't been in open hostilities with anyone since then. "The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the opposing army." has also been generally untrue in the last sixty years.

And yes, what I meant was two large, modern armies fighting, which is what you would need to have the armor-centric tactical situation this thread is looking for.

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 01:34 AM
Alright, I'm going to try working on the issue of shielding and melee weapons.

First, the best option is definitely Herbert's force fields. Anything moving faster than the speed of sound will be deflected, so the fields can only be pierced by slow-moving objects, like a swinging sword or stabbing spear. The size of the field is really irrelevant.

This doesn't help. Plenty of weapons that are absolutely capable of mincing heavy armor are subsonic, and will do hellova lot better job of doing damage to a hard target than a big spear.

I think this is perhaps the most inescapable problem, simply rendering a lot of projectile weaponry obselete doesn't make melee combat against an armored target any more functional. Melee weapons are pretty much kinetic impactors, but I don't think their effectiveness against armor scales linearly with size. Look at it this way, it's not that hard to put a dent in 1/16 inch steel with a 1lbs hammer, but good luck doing the same to a 1 inch thick plate, even using an 16lbs sledge.


Going back to an earlier post (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6461555&postcount=14), arguing about the surface area of tanks vs. the surface area of mechs, the mechs cannot carry enough armor to make them worth it. Unless- you give the mechs an actual, specially hardened shield. Thus, we get the image of classical warriors in a phalanx, which will also protect against infantry-carried rocket launchers.
Putting your mechs in a phalanx will make them sitting ducks for the first person clever enough to use mortars or butterfly bombs, both of which are subsonic. There's also the horrible, horrible things that landmines would do to such a formation, and at a cost ratio around pennies to the dollar.

You also have the problem that the phalanx is simply not that great of an infantry formation. It's got seriously vulnerable flanks, fairs poorly over rough terrain, and is generally very inflexible. I'd expect four man fireteams equiped with rocket launchers to outflank and enfilade the entire formation post haste.


Lasers: perhaps lasers are simply too energy-hungry. It is not possible to carry a generator big enough for both an anti-impact field and a laser weapon of any consequence on a mech. This will allow tanks to actually have a purpose, i.e. the light infantry of this world. The lasers are powerful enough to harm a mech, but take a long time to cut through the shields they carry.
Problem: if the mechs can see, they can be lased by visible light lasers. In fact, if they don't melt down after a couple hours of operation, their shields have to be IR transparent, which allows for IR lasers. Also, what's to stop me putting even more shielding on my tank?

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 01:46 AM
I'd say that really, you're gonna need a material that is strong enough and light enough (so that you can really slather on the thickness) that conventional explosives just don't do the job very well. At least, not in small quantities.

If something has foot thick armor that is far stronger than steel it's pretty safe.

UltraDude
2009-07-10, 02:08 AM
I'd say that really, you're gonna need a material that is strong enough and light enough (so that you can really slather on the thickness) that conventional explosives just don't do the job very well. At least, not in small quantities.

If something has foot thick armor that is far stronger than steel it's pretty safe.

And nigh-impossible to damage with melee weapons if explosives can't do it.

Specifically, we're running into the problem of: small explosives are still waaay more powerful than a freaking 2 ton axe.

Swordguy
2009-07-10, 03:30 AM
No war that America has been involved in, at least, since 1945 has been a conventional one, because we haven't been in open hostilities with anyone since then. "The forces on each side are well-defined, and fight using weapons that primarily target the opposing army." has also been generally untrue in the last sixty years.

And yes, what I meant was two large, modern armies fighting, which is what you would need to have the armor-centric tactical situation this thread is looking for.


The word you're looking for is asymmetric warfare.

And with that in mind, the clear answer is (of all places) found in the movie "Robot Jox". Instead of beginning a large conventional war that could escalate into an all-out nuclear exchange, nations nominate a Mech "champions", and the champions battle in controlled conditions. Escalation is avoided because the results can be overturned by another battle after 5 years (thus it's tough to have a permanent victor).

It pains me to say Robot Jox was good for anything, but...

Cubey
2009-07-10, 04:21 AM
The word you're looking for is asymmetric warfare.

And with that in mind, the clear answer is (of all places) found in the movie "Robot Jox". Instead of beginning a large conventional war that could escalate into an all-out nuclear exchange, nations nominate a Mech "champions", and the champions battle in controlled conditions. Escalation is avoided because the results can be overturned by another battle after 5 years (thus it's tough to have a permanent victor).

It pains me to say Robot Jox was good for anything, but...

You just described G Gundam. Only G Gundam is actually good.

EDIT: Wait, between this and the Mobile Trace system, does it mean this is the most realistic Gundam series? Excuse me while I go die of laughter.

Deadmeat.GW
2009-07-10, 04:32 AM
Well, guess we'll have to do one of the two following:
1-There's a lot of death satellities, and they're armed with really big batteries and devastating rate of fire thanks to the technological superiority, so unless you manage to shoot all of the world's arsenal at the first time, nothing's gonna go trough.

Yes, this means that even the mechas will run in pre-historical technology compared to the stuff used to create the satellites.


2-The sattelites have state of the art recongition technology and can detect if anything bigger than a bird flying is worth shooting down or not thanks to super fast analysis systems to detect explosive subtances and whatnot.


Not really true. Englishes had a very strong land force to back up their navy, and with that they almost conquered France.

Look at longbowmen. Every english man had to train the bow every weekend by law. And with that they shooted down a fullplated cavarly charge in a crushing victory for the english.

During the napoleonic wars, english soldiers barricated themselves in Portugal, and then proceeded to start pushing the frenches back, under the command of Artur(no, not the sword swinging one).


Then just let the warships bash each other and focus on the mechas bashing each other right? Warships cannot engage mechas deep in land and mechas can't engage ships deep in the sea, point.

Also, people can trade by land, and since the creation of the train, it's almost as effecient as ship trading. If you want to sucessfully blockade someone, you need to blockade them by land as well, unless they're an island like England.

And countries like Cuba and Vietnam showed that a stubborn enough enemy may be faced with complete naval superiority from their enemies and still resist to being conquered.



Take a moment to look at a world map. You see that really big chunck of land? That's Russia. How in the 9 hells can you blockade that?
You simply cannot(and if you could, it would probably a more effecient use of your resources to simply conquer the rest of the world first). Every time Russia gets invaded, the attacker ends up grinding itself to defeat when the russian forces have plenty of space to fallback to, and then your own supply lines start to be dangerously stretched, and then the winter arrives and you realize the russians are gonna kick your ass so hard people will be making movies out of it for decades to come.

The Longbowmen did not face full plate...partial plate at best.

Deadmeat.GW
2009-07-10, 04:43 AM
I'm gonna take a different approach than you guys.

1) We need a power source.
2) We need mechs to work on the ground.
3) We need mechs to be superior to tanks.
4) We need mechs and planes to be different somehow.
5) Weapons that utilize the power source, giving anything with it an advantage.

Idea! (only is apparent at point 3)
1) This power source has to be compact enough to fit into a mech but produce vast amounts of power. I'm thinking some form of cold fusion. If people can't invent minovsky particles, I'm happy with cold fusion.

2) The basic material of the mech has to be light. Really light. That's not really implausible is it? We just need something that's lighter than titanium and stronger as well (call it implausible, but then compare titanium to steel). Heck, it could be woven spider thread for all I care. If it ends up being strong enough, it also goes a long way towards reducing the damage taken from eplosives.

3) Mechs vs Tanks. The easiest way I can think of for this is simply having the power source not function right next to the ground. Maybe it can for a little while (so you're not screwed if you fall over), but maybe it can't, it would be cool to have mech combat be centered entirely around knocking the other guy over. Actually, that would be even better, knock it over, capture it, fix the engine and you get stronger after every battle. It would explain why melee combat is preferred to simply blasting away from range. Regardless, you need to get the power source away from the ground, hence a mech with legs design over a tank. You're putting a small target up high instead of a huge target that goes all the way to the ground.

4) Mechs different from airplanes. Alright, we have very strong but light armor, so we'll have to make the power source itself heavy enough to not work in fighter type aircraft. Maybe you can hop around a bit with a mech, but not be able to sustain flight in anything small.

This would make for strategic bomber type craft to become quite powerful (think the gigantic flying airships in the original gundam) but small fighters to not be any more powerful than than they already are.

5) Weapons. I'm thinking beam sabers and rifles. You'd have to play around with this a bit but, I'm thinking beam rifles would waste a huge amount of power or have to be charged or something like that, maybe they use exponentially less power the closer the range.

------

So what kind of world does this leave us with? By playing with how expensive mechs are in comparison to tanks changes the force composition. If you can only afford 10 mechs in your army, you're going to have issues actually holding any territory without your army. You'll might have situations where mechs determine who wins the battles, but they don't change the nature of an occupying force. We have reason for mechs to be trying to fight in close range, which will also lead to lots of tanks getting turned into swiss cheese via beam sabers. Navies would end up with awesome battleships. Though this could have some cool fights with mechs trying to get close enough to use their beam sabers to cut through the heavy armor before they get beam "cannon" rifled out of existence.

Unknown variables: I'm not sure how to explain tanks not loading rounds made of the same material as the mechs. This really is the point I keep coming back to. The only solution that I come up with that isn't something akin to minovsky particles or the like to prevent long distance targetting would be polarized hull plating available akin to Star Trek: Enterprise. This would actually explain mechs being hugely more durable then anything else, but also make the only way to take out large targets feasible would be with close range combat like beam sabers.

Well, that's my take for now. Except nukes. Just say nobody uses nukes.... because nobody's dumb enough to?

I don't Mech's need to be superior as such to tanks, just better for given situations.
I still advocate smaller mecha like in Heavy Gear where the size is not much bigger then a tank and where flexibility is a premium.

As for melee, if we can make reactive armour that prevents most direct ranged attacks from getting full effect a Mecha with a high powered cutting device used as a melee weapon would be able to take down some things. Think combat engineer-style warfare with the Mecha being a cross between Infantry/Combat Engineers.

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 09:42 AM
I don't Mech's need to be superior as such to tanks, just better for given situations.
I still advocate smaller mecha like in Heavy Gear where the size is not much bigger then a tank and where flexibility is a premium.


I completely agree on this point. However I just don't see how it's possible. The main use of armor on a battlefield is to break through enemy positions and destroy enemy armor. Mechs by their very design will be able to carry less weaponry and armor than a tank of equivilent tonnage, and probably have lower endurance as well. They will also be easier targets. To me this indicates that they are not going to outdo tanks in breakthrough or anti-armor roles.

One could use them as a light weapon infantry support vehicle, so you'd have your HMG mech, your 80mm mortar mech, your grenade machine gun mech, and so on. Ideally the weapons systems would be modular, and thus able to be changed out of a single Universal Robot Chassis fairly quickly to simplify logistics. The problem they would face here is that infantry really does just fine at this role, is fairly cheap, and certainly more flexible. With transport vehicles they are likely to be just as mobile as well.

Recon is right out. Big stompy robots just aren't that covert.



As for melee, if we can make reactive armour that prevents most direct ranged attacks from getting full effect a Mecha with a high powered cutting device used as a melee weapon would be able to take down some things. Think combat engineer-style warfare with the Mecha being a cross between Infantry/Combat Engineers.

Why do people insist that there is a quantitative difference between melee and ranged combat? There really isn't, since to a high degree of accuracy a melee weapon is simply a projectile that you hold. It's shaped differently, because it has a different launch platform, but fundamentally any armor that's effective against high calibre armor piercing rounds is going to be effective against large objects being swung at it. Reactive armor doesn't get you around this, since all it means is that when you whack the tank, the outside blows up and screws your weapon up, or else it electrocutes you.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 10:43 AM
And nigh-impossible to damage with melee weapons if explosives can't do it.

Specifically, we're running into the problem of: small explosives are still waaay more powerful than a freaking 2 ton axe.

Yeah, that's why you need the mechs to have different weaponry like say... beam sabers!

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 10:45 AM
So basically, without invoking "lol robots", there's no plausible or even physically possible way of rendering ranged weapons obsolete and making melee weapons the dominant form of combat among big robots?

Dervag
2009-07-10, 10:48 AM
On the original post: I don't think there's any self-consistent way to justify it. You'd have to change so many rules that the far-reaching implications would mess everything up.

If mechs have a role in warfare at all, I envision them as being to armored fighting vehicles what helicopter gunships are to aircraft. They have some advantages, but they just do not work very well in an environment where the enemy has plenty of weapons that can take them out. Many of the things that are an advantage for an attack helicopter (being able to hover or move slowly, being close to the ground so it avoids being detected by air search radar) are also disadvantages (being a sitting duck, being so close to the ground that some sap with a Kalashnikov can hit it).


Now, if you do somehow justify cutting out missile (long range) weapons, cutting tanks is quite simple. Every seen a tank manuver? Bipedal bots would have an edge.Why? Bipedal war machines can be tripped; tanks can't. A bipedal war machine weighing many tons can't traverse slopes a tank can't, because it won't be able to get good enough traction to support its weight. Tanks can move forward or backward with equal ease. In what way is a tank's maneuverability inadequate?


6-In order to bypass the trenches, the military create bypedal machines that can bypass them and take a pounging, while tanks simply get stuck.But... but... tanks were invented to fight in trench systems!


And what we're trying to do here is figuring out ways to make them NOT pieces of junk as mobile as a turtle without having to resort to, "lol robots".Trying to impose melee combat on the mechs means that you can't remove very much (if any) rule of cool from the system, because the rule of cool is the only thing holding it together.

Allow ranged weaponry and things get slightly less incoherent.


OK - leaving the realm of physics for a moment:

[proceeds to describe mechs with bulletproof kite shields]I like.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 10:52 AM
Actually, I was thinking of the satellite world as one where the surface almost doesn't even matter. Instead all the fighting would occur underground, once the setting has been around long enough that the tunnel systems now extend for thousands of miles all over the place. (Especially if there's a huge amount of collateral damage from the satellites.)

Now, I know the stuff built by man wouldn't really be like natural cave formations, but think about trying to drive a tank in that. The flexibility of a mech would be absolutely mandatory and you'd have solved the issue of long range weaponry.

Even the man made stuff would be built so that tanks wouldn't function well, which would make a shift toward mechs pretty useful.

Edit: Actually, what do you guys think of underground in general? Lots of nice hard rock to support all that weight.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 11:13 AM
One could use them as a light weapon infantry support vehicle, so you'd have your HMG mech, your 80mm mortar mech, your grenade machine gun mech, and so on. Ideally the weapons systems would be modular, and thus able to be changed out of a single Universal Robot Chassis fairly quickly to simplify logistics. The problem they would face here is that infantry really does just fine at this role, is fairly cheap, and certainly more flexible. With transport vehicles they are likely to be just as mobile as well.Hmm...how about LIS weapons in areas that are environmentally hazardous? Fallout sites, other planetary surfaces, good old Command & Conquer Tiberium fields...if you're going to give your infantry hazard suits, you might as well strap on a bunch more armor and firepower too. Powered armor would probably be slightly more reasonable, but on lower-gravity bodies like Mars or the Moon, you can scale up to 8m small mechs and the like.

Doesn't really solve the melee issues, but it's an idea for other kinds of mechs.


So basically, without invoking "lol robots", there's no plausible or even physically possible way of rendering ranged weapons obsolete and making melee weapons the dominant form of combat among big robots?You do have to start ignoring certain facts of warfare, and inventing physics that doesn't exist yet. Otherwise we'd already have this, no?

Ravens_cry
2009-07-10, 11:14 AM
I would rather have soemthing like a tachikoma (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tachikoma) rather then a biped mechfor tunnel warfare. The humanoid body is made for wide open spaces, like savannah's, where there is room to run. In caves you want to be able to scuttle and crawl, using all available surfaces, like a spider, stable across multiple levels. Tanks in caves would be pretty bad, but a classic Knight-in-shining-armour mech would be almost as bad.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 11:18 AM
So basically, big robots are somewhat feasible, but melee combat with big robots requires too much rule of cool for this exercise?

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 11:26 AM
So basically, big robots are somewhat feasible, but melee combat with big robots requires too much rule of cool for this exercise?Melee combat as the primary form of combat period either requires Rule of Cool or some kind of situation that make it impossible to hit someone from far away.

I still haven't heard the NGE-style force fields get brought down. You have to have something close by to use another forcefield to interfere with the enemy's. Ranged combat will still be possible, but only while someone else is engaging the target in melee to remove their shield.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-10, 11:45 AM
I still haven't heard the NGE-style force fields get brought down. You have to have something close by to use another forcefield to interfere with the enemy's. Ranged combat will still be possible, but only while someone else is engaging the target in melee to remove their shield.Many almost disposable little UAV heli-drones to force it down, coming from several angles, and someone acting from a safe distance with the big guns? I have only read a few of the manga and not seen the anime, so I there may be some intricacy that would make this a non-viable tactic.

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 12:15 PM
Actually, I was thinking of the satellite world as one where the surface almost doesn't even matter. Instead all the fighting would occur underground, once the setting has been around long enough that the tunnel systems now extend for thousands of miles all over the place. (Especially if there's a huge amount of collateral damage from the satellites.)

Now, I know the stuff built by man wouldn't really be like natural cave formations, but think about trying to drive a tank in that. The flexibility of a mech would be absolutely mandatory and you'd have solved the issue of long range weaponry.

Even the man made stuff would be built so that tanks wouldn't function well, which would make a shift toward mechs pretty useful.

Edit: Actually, what do you guys think of underground in general? Lots of nice hard rock to support all that weight.

Honestly I think in an underground setting a tank would have even more advantages over a mech. It's a small space, there's not much room to dodge, and it's probably got low ceilings, meaning that a low profile is a good thing. In those conditions, I'd prefer to have as much armor as possible, since I'm almost certainly going to be hit.


Hmm...how about LIS weapons in areas that are environmentally hazardous? Fallout sites, other planetary surfaces, good old Command & Conquer Tiberium fields...if you're going to give your infantry hazard suits, you might as well strap on a bunch more armor and firepower too. Powered armor would probably be slightly more reasonable, but on lower-gravity bodies like Mars or the Moon, you can scale up to 8m small mechs and the like.

Doesn't really solve the melee issues, but it's an idea for other kinds of mechs.


Power armor, I think we can all agree is, assuming you have the tech to do it, a very good thing. The question is, for me at least, at what point does scaling it up hit the point of diminishing returns?

There are, to my mind, two major catagories of things that limit the expansion of power armors. The first has to do with your technology, and thus is incidental to the fiction at hand, but isn't particularly abstractable to a general case. Setting A might have good enough structural engineering to allow for a 4 meter mech, but setting B can go up to 6m for example. The second group of limiting factors has more to do with the basic limitations of profile.


Thus maximum height is dependant to some level on tech, but I'm hard pressed to come up with justifications for an 8m tall mech in combat, due to it being very hard for such a vehicle to take advantage of cover or concealment. I mean at 8m, you're going to need a 2-3 story building just to hide the thing. This means you're looking at taking the beast into an urban setting- something I think we can again agree is probably not the wisest course of action. At some point, regardless of tech (insofar as I can tell) the disadvantages of being clearly visible begin to outweigh the benefits of adding size.

Could I see mechs being used in hazardous conditions as light weapon platforms? Possibly, but I seriously doubt they'd reasonably be able to exceed 4 or 5 meters in height. Light support weapons are already prime targets in combat due to their offensive and defensive value, and attaching them to multi-million dollar (in all probability) platforms will only exacarbate this.

Swordguy
2009-07-10, 12:52 PM
So basically, without invoking "lol robots", there's no plausible or even physically possible way of rendering ranged weapons obsolete and making melee weapons the dominant form of combat among big robots?

I rather thought this was more than "lol robots"...



OK - leaving the realm of physics for a moment:

I'd simply use a projected, essentially impenetrable shield that can be carried by the Mech...

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 01:36 PM
Many almost disposable little UAV heli-drones to force it down, coming from several angles, and someone acting from a safe distance with the big guns? I have only read a few of the manga and not seen the anime, so I there may be some intricacy that would make this a non-viable tactic.In the anime Neon Genesis Evangelion, these shields are for lack of a better word magic, and only certain things can project them. We can ignore this explanation in favor of the field needing a certain minimal size of power source to generate - something that's not going to fit on anything smaller than however large we want our combat mechs to be.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 01:42 PM
So let's say we have a setting with the technology to actually build a functional mech: something really flexible, a power source that lasts longer than a tank of fuel, that sort of thing.

What would tanks end up looking like/what would replace them?

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 02:01 PM
So let's say we have a setting with the technology to actually build a functional mech: something really flexible, a power source that lasts longer than a tank of fuel, that sort of thing.

What would tanks end up looking like/what would replace them?

Endurance really isn't the limiting factor on tanks anymore. What is reducing the role of heavy armor on the battlefield is...well, the lack of battlefields.

Tanks are absolutely great for pounding through fortifications and opening breaches in enemy positions, where there is a single threat axis (the stuff straight ahead) and a real need for heavy weapons reasonably close. With the urban and irregular warfare that has characterized most modern conflicts, these roles are minimized. The advent of reasonably light, guided, and highly effective anti-tank weapons that can be carried or mounted on a wide variety of vehicles also contributes to this.

If these trends continue, then the tank's role will continue to diminish, and I really don't see why inventing technology capable of making a mech work would change that. Improvements in countermeasures, active defenses, and proper armies fighting proper armies again however would, I suspect re-emphasize the role of heavy armor. Again however, I don't see the technology to make a mech fundamentally changing that.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-10, 02:08 PM
So let's say we have a setting with the technology to actually build a functional mech: something really flexible, a power source that lasts longer than a tank of fuel, that sort of thing.

What would tanks end up looking like/what would replace them?
Whatever implement a mech uses to fight other mechs, you can mount on a tank. If the impossible happens and you have to use beam swords, tanks become gerbils with knives strapped to their back, all they need to do is ram something to stab them. The only thing I can think of changing is that you start getting hover rockets and whatnot on them like Starfox's Landmasters, which seems pretty impossible to someone who doesn't know a thing about tanks, but hey, we already assumed bipedal mechs in the first place, it can't be too hard to do.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 02:31 PM
I rather thought this was more than "lol robots"...

And it was (and the idea of impenetrable shields goes a way to allow robot phalanxes and such, which is awesome :smallamused:) but some of the others in the thread seem to remain...unconvinced? :smallconfused:

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 02:36 PM
Whatever implement a mech uses to fight other mechs, you can mount on a tank. If the impossible happens and you have to use beam swords, tanks become gerbils with knives strapped to their back, all they need to do is ram something to stab them.

I was actually thinking along these lines this morning while doing dishes, although I went for more of a rotary lawnmower arrangement of the blades. If you replaces the turret on a tank, moved it towards the front, and put the whole arrangement on a pintle, you could tilt it up and down or side to side for protection. Plus that way you could sideswipe a mech and take it off at the kneecaps.



The only thing I can think of changing is that you start getting hover rockets and whatnot on them like Starfox's Landmasters, which seems pretty impossible to someone who doesn't know a thing about tanks, but hey, we already assumed bipedal mechs in the first place, it can't be too hard to do.
And really, if you've got jump jets, they are better used for VTOLs or other vehicles with actual airodynamics than anything humanoid or tankform. Combined arms people, it works.

Prime32
2009-07-10, 02:37 PM
You could have the mechs existing for another reason (such as loading heavy equipment), then have them modified for combat use later. I mean, in Code Geass they evolved from ejector seats. :smallconfused:

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 02:38 PM
You could have the mechs existing for another reason (such as loading heavy equipment), then have them modified for combat use later.


But they must have a reason to be modified for combat use in the first place.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 02:40 PM
Endurance really isn't the limiting factor on tanks anymore. What is reducing the role of heavy armor on the battlefield is...well, the lack of battlefields.

I disagree with this. Even just a few years ago it was shown that support vehicles couldn't keep up with tanks when they were moving in a manner more consistent with a breakthrough then a slugging match. And the supply chains themselves were extremely vulnerable.

Combine this with the fact that tank treads only go, what 400 miles before needing maintenance?

Prime32
2009-07-10, 02:42 PM
But they must have a reason to be modified for combat use in the first place.If it's a poorly-equipped group, worker mechs might be all they have to mount their weapons on. Their opponents would likely be using more traditional vehicles, unless they Gundamjack a mech with black box technology or something.

Renegade Paladin
2009-07-10, 02:49 PM
Big robots are awesome. Hilariously impractical and probably almost physically impossible, but awesome. So is pre-medieval European warfare--watching (historically inaccurate) movies about Greeks and Romans duking it out with other peoples is also awesome (see: Gladiator, 300).

So...how would you go about combining both? :smallbiggrin:

This came about when I was playing Rome: Total War, and was wiping the pathetic Romans off the face of the earth with the unstoppable might of my Seleucid pike phalanxes and cataphracts. I thought, "You know, it'd be kinda cool if we had, like, big mecha pike phalanxes facing off against big mecha maniples and stuff," and I started wondering what kind of changes Earth, as it is right now, would need to make it work.
You need to completely invalidate all principles of warfare, all practical engineering concerns, and a good chunk of the laws of physics to even begin to make this practical. Basically, you'd need to change so much that Earth wouldn't be recognizable as Earth.

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 02:51 PM
I disagree with this. Even just a few years ago it was shown that support vehicles couldn't keep up with tanks when they were moving in a manner more consistent with a breakthrough then a slugging match. And the supply chains themselves were extremely vulnerable.

Yes, there are difficulties with the armored spearhead breakthrough. Over-straining of supply lines is one of these, as is over extension of the spearhead formations and the creation of untennable salients. None of these however would be fixed by using more efficient engines on tanks, or increasing their armor or any of the things you list as being required to build a functional mecha.

Also, wouldn't that indicate that it's the support vehicles that need to be improved, not the tanks?


Combine this with the fact that tank treads only go, what 400 miles before needing maintenance?
Oh dear. The treads need looked at every couple of days. Whatever shall we do, besides, you know, carry tread maintainence supplies?

WalkingTarget
2009-07-10, 02:56 PM
Combine this with the fact that tank treads only go, what 400 miles before needing maintenance?
Oh dear. The treads need looked at every couple of days. Whatever shall we do, besides, you know, carry tread maintainence supplies?

Yeah, and why wouldn't a mech need maintenance periodically as well? If not, why couldn't whatever unobtanium you're using to make them be utilized for your tanks too?

Also, Swordguy's shield idea++

KnightDisciple
2009-07-10, 02:57 PM
So basically, without invoking "lol robots", there's no plausible or even physically possible way of rendering ranged weapons obsolete and making melee weapons the dominant form of combat among big robots?
*Coughs*
Per my earlier post....*Points below*

Basically, any large-sized area that's important, and fixed in location, has a nuke jammer.

Ah, but to pierce the field, you require what is, in essence, a melee weapon. Similar to how I understand NGE to work with AT fields, an EP field is required to pierce an EP field. Melee weapons would have a continuous feed of "field energy" as it were.

A tank can't really wield that effectively. You could put a spike on the front of one, I suppose, but...A mecha shape is much, much better for melee combat.

It'd require some sort of neural interface system. Probably something more realistic overall than G-Gundam, but more like that than "two slide joysticks control a human shape precisely".

On fitting it on a missile: That's a big-*** missile, then, since the generator to put out the raw particles is one bit, and the various converters are all separate bits. Again, a fair amount of the mecha's internal space goes to this stuff.

Now, you could make a tank with most of this that's great for defensive, anti-vehicle use. Because tanks might be able to mount most of it. But Mecha then kill tanks, since only melee weapons pierce the EP shield, and mecha are way better at handling melee weapons.

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 02:59 PM
If it's a poorly-equipped group, worker mechs might be all they have to mount their weapons on. Their opponents would likely be using more traditional vehicles, unless they Gundamjack a mech with black box technology or something.

In that case they are better off using civilian vehicles, which at least blend in, and IEDs or other tactics of irregular warfare to neutralize enemy armor. Strapping a gun to a tractor gives you a gun on a tractor and not a substitute for a tank, regardless of whether it has wheels or legs.

Prime32
2009-07-10, 03:05 PM
In that case they are better off using civilian vehicles, which at least blend in, and IEDs or other tactics of irregular warfare to neutralize enemy armor. Strapping a gun to a tractor gives you a gun on a tractor and not a substitute for a tank, regardless of whether it has wheels or legs.Let me extrapolate a scenario. Some workers on a space station are researching some alien tech when they are attacked by some corrupt regime. One guy, desperate, connects the tech to one of the worker mechs and goes out to fight. He kicks their ass. That mech becomes a symbol - a humble worker's tool, but strong enough to fight their oppressors.

As a result, an emerging faction of rebels uses variants of this first mech as the bulk of their force. The tech should still be stuff that works better on mechs, like those forcefields mentioned earlier.

chiasaur11
2009-07-10, 03:05 PM
You need to completely invalidate all principles of warfare, all practical engineering concerns, and a good chunk of the laws of physics to even begin to make this practical. Basically, you'd need to change so much that Earth wouldn't be recognizable as Earth.

Oh.

Like Canada.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 03:27 PM
Hey, warty goblin. You're a Warhammer 40k fan. How do they justify the huge-ass mecha in that?

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 03:28 PM
Let me extrapolate a scenario. Some workers on a space station are researching some alien tech when they are attacked by some corrupt regime. One guy, desperate, connects the tech to one of the worker mechs and goes out to fight. He kicks their ass. That mech becomes a symbol - a humble worker's tool, but strong enough to fight their oppressors.

As a result, an emerging faction of rebels uses variants of this first mech as the bulk of their force. The tech should still be stuff that works better on mechs, like those forcefields mentioned earlier.

This works just fine until:
1) The attackers realize that their enemies are on a space station. Only a moron actually lands troops in a space station, particularly if your enemy doesn't actually have any militarized spacecraft. Starvation presents itself as a perfectly viable option, as does shooting holes in the habitat from a safe distance. With some careful gunnery it should be possible to do this without serious structural damage.

2) Assuming troops are landed, the close confines of a space station are about the worst possible place for the large, ungainly form of a humanoid robot to function in. An industrial loader machine such as one would find in a space station is not going to be able to reach a lot of places designed for humans. This will leave it vulnerable to being outflanked, when the actual military comes in with trained soldiers and purpose-built weapons. Once such a machine is flanked, it simply becomes a matter of deploying landmines to cripple it, then remove and utilize the technology in a more sensible manner.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 03:30 PM
Hey, warty goblin. You're a Warhammer 40k fan. How do they justify the huge-ass mecha in that?

They justify the Titans in WH40K? :smallconfused:

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 03:33 PM
They justify the Titans in WH40K? :smallconfused:I think Titans are big guns. Aren't dreadnoughts the melee ones?

chiasaur11
2009-07-10, 03:36 PM
I think Titans are big guns. Aren't dreadnoughts the melee ones?

Titans are freaking hugnormis mechs, Dreads are merely big. Also Dreads are basically life support systems.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 03:38 PM
(By big guns I meant mecha with big guns, i.e. artillery and not what this thread is about)

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 03:40 PM
I don't recall WH40K justifying any of its tech very much (including Dreadnaughts and Eldar Wraithlords), aside from "lol psykers" or somesuch.

Kalbron
2009-07-10, 03:58 PM
It doesn't have to justify its tech because the fluff specifically means they can ignore justifications.

For human tech they can say "well they forgot how it works, so we can't explain it to you either". For xenos tech they can say "you can't understand how their minds work, you're not going to understand how their guns work".

KnightDisciple
2009-07-10, 04:07 PM
...Are people seriously thinking "gerbil with a knife" is better than something humaniform, controlled by a neural interface? Really?
Also, this (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showpost.php?p=6473635&postcount=108).

I mean, yeah, sure, we can keep up with the "lol, mecha are stupid" bit, but that's not really what the thread's about. Am I the only one really trying to address and engage the original subject at this point?:smallannoyed:

I mean, if we get to the point where only "melee weapons" that are continuously used by a main fighting machine are viable, mecha seem to be superior, due to superior flexibility in the human form, among other things.

The OP at least partly asked how we could get to that point. Not "what are the 1001 reasons mecha are stupid".:smallannoyed:

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 04:07 PM
So we've only touched on this very briefly, but what about exotic locations.

I'm talking everything from swamps, to low grav like the moon, or the ocean.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 04:09 PM
@Trizap: A nuclear explosive doesn't have to be in missile form. It could well be in a suitcase these days.

Preface: I think having some exotic particle with lots of properties depending on how you use it is the best middle ground between "pure hard science" and "rule of cool".

On Nukes: have jamming devices enacted in cities and military bases, as well as in mobile form on the battlefield, that use Exotic Particle, Form A, to essentially "muffle" a nuke to not being worth it. As in "no bigger than a 500lb bomb" muffled.

On Overall "Setting" Ideas: I like the satellite bit. Combine that with regular jamming, Exotic Particle, Form B, jamming, EP, Form C "refractive fields" to prevent laser aiming to have non-sight-based weaponry left.

On "No Ranged Weapons for Big Stuff": EP, Form C combines with EP, Form D to generate a kind of AT field type effect. Nothing without another similar field can pierce it. And the equipment to generate a field won't fit on anything less than mecha size.

On "No Mecha Sinking Into Ground": EP, Form E, combined with lightweight alloys, gives mecha better handling than tanks. Combo of weight lightening, micro-thrusters, low-level antigrav, etc. Mix and match here.

On "Why Big Mechs Again?": To keep a mech supplied with EP in all its glorious forms, you need a minimum-sized generator. EP, Form F is great for power generation anyways. A lot of space has various small converters for EP, turning it into the particular needed form of particle. You have to spread it out for the force fields.

Melee weapons have special linkups that let a field extend over them to pierce another field.

How's that?

Quoting Knight's post again, since I think some of his points are worth looking at.

Aotrs Commander
2009-07-10, 04:17 PM
So basically, big robots are somewhat feasible, but melee combat with big robots requires too much rule of cool for this exercise?

Sadly, yes. At least starting from the ground base of modern technology. The more you leave that behind, the more 'plausible' you'll get. You might be better dragging things back to maybe sort of alternative history steam punk (steam-powered clockwork robots). That is, granted, mostly rule-of-cool, but it at least removes the issue of having to work around modern technological developments.

Or else consider the planet Lampshadeium, different from Earth in that it has a highly unstable or extremely hard and irregular surface that renders (heavy) tracked vehicles very difficult to move over. Therein the excuse for mecha is that they traverse over the difficult terrain more easily. Combine this with a slighlty low tech level (which removes some of your missile weapon problems), and this has encouraged the local populace to sink the effort into making walkers, after the heavy use of lampshadeiumeleplants as warmachines for their early history. Somebody figures out how to integrate the brain or nervous system of one of the animals (or perhaps it links right into the mind of the pilot) which obiviates the need for high-tech gyros. And then it's relatively 'easy' to go from there. The point about using a different tech tree is you don't have to try and work round so many existant and awkward technologies!

So, justifying mecha-only is not necessarily easy to do without too much rule-of-cool, but reasonably doable.

Ultimately though, your biggest problem is that there is no real way to work around missile weapons aside from straight out-and-out fiat. No-one has so far mention the obvious of mecha using simple thrown weapons, mecha-bows, giant slings or just a convieniant tree. Even if you have the aforementioned energy shields, it's not getting round the issue that. If you have a phalanx, somebody is going to have what amounts to a mobile catapult or trebuchet even if they cant find a way to make mecha-archers.

Another thing to remember about real warfare. Never shoot them in the front. If you have a invincible-kite-shield shield wall, you just have your catapult mechs (ahaha) do a quick runner round the side, deploy to position and lob a 500lbs rock (etc) into their side. Basically, a lot like real medieval warfare, a lot's going to come down to the skirmishers and ranged combatants out-maneuvering or fighting each other to knobble the big guys slogging it out in the middle. (Doubly so since it's going to be bloody hard to hide behind cover a 20' or 12m kakking great mech!) If that's your definition of melee-based warfare, all to the good. But it's as feasible as you're going to get without flat-out-rule-of-cool, I fear.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-10, 04:24 PM
...Are people seriously thinking "gerbil with a knife" is better than something humaniform, controlled by a neural interface? Really?
Why is it that your bipedal machine is better at melee weapons? You've brought this point up a number of times, but you've never explained it- it's just been a given.

Remember, at the very least, you can mount a mech arm on a tank and control it via the same interface. Same amount of range, same weapons, better armor, arguably better mobility, more stable, lower center of gravity, less costly to produce, and less to hit.


The OP at least partly asked how we could get to that point. Not "what are the 1001 reasons mecha are stupid".
Part of getting to that point is figuring out how mechs and/or the world will deal with these problems.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-10, 04:37 PM
Why is it that your bipedal machine is better at melee weapons? You've brought this point up a number of times, but you've never explained it- it's just been a given.

Remember, at the very least, you can mount a mech arm on a tank and control it via the same interface. Same amount of range, same weapons, better armor, arguably better mobility, more stable, lower center of gravity, less costly to produce, and less to hit.

Two arms with fully articulated hands have a vastly increased range of motion. Part of the point is that they're controlled by a neural interface that basically copies natural body movements.

Since I have legs, not treads, that means that a generally humaniform shape is ideal for said neural interface.

As well, due to some of the tech I proposed earlier, the mech could perform complicated maneuvers that the tank would not be able to. By using motions similar to modern martial arts, one can put more force behind a blow with a "lunge" without actually moving from a spot. Whereas a tank has to reverse.

And total agility would be much greater with a bipedal mech. Tanks are kind of stuck with how nimble you can get with two solid tracks.

Beyond that, if you think about it, a tank trying to swing a sword about is in worse shape than a bipedal machine. To get proper balance, the tank would likely need the arms around its center. That means that, when it attacks, a fair amount of body mass will be sticking forward of the center point of the arms. A bipedal shape wont' have that occurring; there's much less center mass sticking forward of the shoulders, which means an opponent has to reach further to hit the center section. Which means said opponent is more likely to get hit by said target.

BarroomBard
2009-07-10, 05:13 PM
The justification of big mechs in 40k is basically as follows:

Titans: Mechs that are ginormous, basically it would require a battleship to actually harm it. Also, used because they terrify the enemy. Probably made with magic.

Chaos Titans: Same as above, but also possessed by demons.

Ork Titans: Work by magic.

Eldar Titans: Work by elf magic and pervasive anti-grav technology.

etc. They aren't designed to be practical, they're designed to be scary as all hell.

*****

I agree with Knight, we all know that there is no reason to ever use mechs other than the fact that they are really cool, but I think the best solution is to just ditch Earth and have some society where history developed differently. The problem this thread seems to be circling is that modern warfare can't be logically regressed from the highly mobile, combined arms style it currently uses to the classical, symmetric warfare brought up by the OP. I don't think we can presuppose a society exactly like our own for this issue.

For example, imagine if gunpowder had not been introduced into European warfare. In this scenario, the arms race would have continued to move in the direction of greater armor vs. attempting to pierce that armor. This could result in a society where advanced, powered armor, eventually leading to mechs, could have come about.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-10, 05:26 PM
Wait, what?

I never said "there's no reason to ever use mechs".

I was saying this wasn't the "lol mechs are stupid" thread.

My posts where I talked about exotic particles, and how they were used?

That was explicit effort to come up with a solid reason to use mechs.

But whatever, sure, "lol mechs are stupid, especially on earth, let's just call them magic."

That said, my suggestions would work even better in a semi-post-apocalyptic society, such as was suggested earlier. You know, the one where nukes got fired, sky lasers were set up, and then the people who built and programmed the sky lasers were killed. Or any situation where technology regressed, then progressed again.

In fact, my as yet unnamed Exotic Particles could be part of the surge of technological development in this postulated future earth.

Prime32
2009-07-10, 05:34 PM
Organic technology would provide a small justification for mechs, but then you have to justify why people would use organic technology in the first place (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VoodooShark) (we stopped using specially-engineered organic vehicles in war long ago - they were callled "horses").

Ravens_cry
2009-07-10, 05:42 PM
Technology doesn't exist in a vacuum, and the complicated nature of mechs means they are going to need lot's of maintenance. And you need an entire industrial society to build and maintain the technology needed to do so, let alone build more. It would be worse then saying "oh we have a post-apocolypic society, but we still have computers. And the Internet. And game developers. And e-bay." Sooner or later the parts are going to wear out, and your going to run out of replacements. And if you have a ready supply of replacements, then you don't HAVE a post apocalyptic situation. You have a thriving industrial society.
Your 'post-apocalyptic society' will go back to melee combat all right, but instead of a mech, it will be a man with some sharpened scrap for a weapon and animal hide for armour.

Prime32
2009-07-10, 05:48 PM
Technology doesn't exist in a vacuum, and the complicated nature of mechs means they are going to need lot's of maintenance. And you need an entire industrial society to build and maintain the technology needed to do so, let alone build more. It would be worse then saying "oh we have a post-apocolypic society, but we still have computers. And the Internet. And game developers. And e-bay." Sooner or later the parts are going to wear out, and your going to run out of replacements. And if you have a ready supply of replacements, then you don't HAVE a post apocalyptic situation. You have a thriving industrial society.
Your 'post-apocalyptic society' will go back to melee combat all right, but instead of a mech, it will be a man with some sharpened scrap for a weapon and animal hide for armour.And then they discover some worker mechs which are either solar-powered or use nuclear batteries. Worker mechs >>> guys with pointed scraps, so a bunch of guys start using them, even forging melee weapons for them to use and bolting on additional armour.

Sure, they'd need a pretty big stash... or maybe an automated factory is malfunctioning, and building them a steady supply? All of the technology involved is far beyond their understanding, though if the mechs are modular enough in design they might be able to swap out parts.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-10, 06:00 PM
And then they discover some worker mechs which are either solar-powered or use nuclear batteries. Worker mechs >>> guys with pointed scraps, so a bunch of guys start using them, even forging melee weapons for them to use and bolting on additional armour.

Sure, they'd need a pretty big stash... or maybe an automated factory is malfunctioning, and building them a steady supply? All of the technology involved is far beyond their understanding.
And then the automated factory breaks down, because no one knows how to do the routine maintenance required to keep it running.
Also, solar panels do need replacement, (http://www.solarpanelinfo.com/solar-panels/solar-panel-cost.php) as do the fuel rods of either a nuclear reactors or radioisotope thermoelectric generators (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator).
Why is the ability to build mechs still available, while the information for lasers and nukes, which are damn simple to build with the right materials if you go for an old fashioned gun-type, lost?
And if these automated factories can do all these things, why did society collapse at all?

Oslecamo
2009-07-10, 06:12 PM
The justification of big mechs in 40k is basically as follows:

...

etc. They aren't designed to be practical, they're designed to be scary as all hell.


Actually, they're only designed because everybody likes big robots, and to have big explosions when they are destroyed. Even in the fluff, titans manage little more than geting themselves killed by the ground troops. Wich is saying a lot in a seting where axes and swords are perfectly viable.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 06:17 PM
Ok, ok...

What if we were to change the idea a bit? Instead of Big Robots + Melee Only, what about Big Robots + both ranged weapons and melee weapons being viable? Works for WH40K, I think (albeit with a heavy dose of Rule of Cool...).

Prime32
2009-07-10, 06:34 PM
I suggest you watch Vision of Escaflowne (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VisionOfEscaflowne) if you haven't already.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 07:08 PM
I suggest you watch Vision of Escaflowne (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/VisionOfEscaflowne) if you haven't already.

Already have, mate, years and years ago. :smalltongue: The action scenes are some of my all-time favorites.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 07:09 PM
Heh, I actually read a manga that had a radically different approach to this topic.

In that world, people had a magical ability to control quartz crystals. All their tech ended up based off of quartz. They had compressed air rifles for their mecha, but they didn't have the penetration to go through shields (well, at least not until the new enemy showed up), so everybody runs around with ranged weapons and swords.

I don't think they had discovered gunpowder.

13_CBS
2009-07-10, 07:12 PM
Heh, I actually read a manga that had a radically different approach to this topic.

In that world, people had a magical ability to control quartz crystals. All their tech ended up based off of quartz. They had compressed air rifles for their mecha, but they didn't have the penetration to go through shields (well, at least not until the new enemy showed up), so everybody runs around with ranged weapons and swords.

I don't think they had discovered gunpowder.

Break Blade? :smallwink:

Perhaps that idea could be linked up with Knight's (and others') ideas on having some kind of exotic particle doing most of the work?

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 07:48 PM
Man they've even got the whole ancient advanced civilization thing going on. I'm starting to think people have been mining for ideas somewhere. <_< >_>

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-10, 07:57 PM
When you allow modern attacking at range and combined arms to exist, you end up with the earlier idea of small mecha as light infantry support or armor for places that are simply impassible to treaded vehicles. Although in most cases where that happens you would want more than two legs.

Kalbron
2009-07-10, 08:16 PM
Not to mention that any terrain that's unsuitable for a tank is unlikely to be suitable for a bipedal robot of equal weight. In fact it'd probably be far worse for the bipedal robot, as the tank distributes its weight over the length and breadth of its treads. A bipedal robot has two distinct points of contact with the ground.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-10, 08:31 PM
Not to mention that any terrain that's unsuitable for a tank is unlikely to be suitable for a bipedal robot of equal weight. In fact it'd probably be far worse for the bipedal robot, as the tank distributes its weight over the length and breadth of its treads. A bipedal robot has two distinct points of contact with the ground.
Hmm...

What may be needed, is to have your battlefield consist of a vertical climb, where your, uh, not-battle-grounds are horizontal. That way, you're effectively a quadruped when it matters: four points of contact with the ground (in this case, the wall you're climbing), your head will actually do something that will contribute to your existence (be able to rotate and look around), and tanks might be a bit difficult to get climbing up to battle until they come up with wall-climbing treads. Which I'm certain they would, but hey, I'm trying here.

Of course, the problem is that you'd wind up leaning towards four-and-six-armed robots, because they're even better at climbing then two-armed ones. And that sort of terrain is pretty difficult to have, but we've been trying to get off of Earth in the topic for some time now.

Thrawn183
2009-07-10, 08:46 PM
Actually, if you give mecha the ability to do short "hops" where it's not true flight but they can go a significant distance, they'd have a lot of use in mountainous terrain.

Kalbron
2009-07-10, 08:52 PM
The problem you run into then involves the forces you'd be exerting on the hip and knee joints of the robot. Which almost neccessitates that you'd have to make the robot a quadroped in order to ensure the robot wouldn't need maintenance every second jump.

Besides which, there's already a modern day precedent for the capabilities of quadroped robots, albeit roughly human sized so it avoids all the issues around the square-cubed law.

Link. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W1czBcnX1Ww)

warty goblin
2009-07-10, 11:30 PM
OK, so I've been thinking about the robot problem this afternoon, and I think I've got a solution.

I present the WKR-1A 'Treecat'.

This bipedal walker stands about three meters tall, and is, with the exception of the weapon systems, bilaterally symmetical. Its head is a sharply angled wedge, two and a half meters in length, and a meter thick at the base. The bottom of the wedge is nearly parallel to the ground, with the base more or less perpendicular to that surface. The pilot lies flat on his/her stomach, and depends on an advanced set of sensors to monitor the surrounding envioronment. This arrangement also allows for a quick exit, in case of severe combat damage- the pilot simply presses the Eject button, and is dropped out the rear hatch, landing on an air cushion, which inflates during the fall.

Under the head is the 'body,' a second wedge grafted onto, and running in the same direction as the head. The body portion is perhaps a meter and a half in length, but set back from the front of the head, leaving a meter or so of head in front of it.

This space is taken up by the secondary weapons systems, which are housed in a .5 meter tall and .75m diameter domed turret. In this model they consist of a 7.62mm machine gun with 1000 roundsand a 40mm smoke grenade launcher with 4 rounds stored in the barrel.

Rising from the body nearly to the top of the head- are the 'shoulders-' although 'hips' may be more appropriate since they join the legs to the armless body. The legs themselves stand two and a half meters tall, with a simple pivot at the hip, knee and ankle. The rest of their lengths are thick and heavily armored, with no exposed hydrolics or wiring. At rest they are almost perfectly vertical.

In front of the shoulders are the two primary weapon system hardpoints, one on the left and one on the right. They can accept any two of the following:

A: 30mm autocannon w/250 rounds of ammunition. Effective against thin-skinned vehicles, low flying aircraft and personnel.

B: 30mm grenade machine gun w/dual ammunition feed and room for 125 rounds. Effective against personnel and light fortifications, and can fire any two of: HE-FRAG, Incendiary, Illumination or Smoke.

C: x4 unguided light missiles with fragmentation or HEAT warheads. Useful for destroying light fortifications and thin skinned vehicles outside of autocannon range.

D: x2 medium weight command-guided missiles. These can be armed with either HEAT or fragmentation type anti-air warheads and appropriate guidence systems, depending on the mission at hand.

E: 60mm rocket-assisted smoothbore cannon firing HEAT or HE-FRAG rounds w/75 rounds

D: 60mm mortar tube w/75 rounds. This weapon gives the Treecat the longest effective range in most cases, since the indirect fire allows for engagement of personnel and soft targets from 3-4 kilometers.

In short it looks almost exactly like this (http://www.mechlivinglegends.net/cpg/displayimage.php?album=19&pos=10), except the head is between the legs to lower the profile, and the weapon pods are in front of the leg joints, instead of mounted on the outside of them, which narrows the profile considerably.


These systems are completely modular, and can be switched out with only a few hours work by a trained crew. In addition the Treecat features chaff and flare launchers in order to protect it from guided weapon threats. It masses at just 7-10 tons, depending on configuration. The severly sloped armor on the head and body increases its effective protection against most threats by a significant margin, although it is still thin enough that a direct hit from most dedicated anti-armor weapons will knock the Treecat out of the fight. It has a very low profile for a vehicle of its stride length, and presents a hard target from the front. It remains very vulnerable for the sides, rear and especially the top. In addition the primary weapon systems have very limited horizontal traverse, and the body cannot pivot meaningfully, since it is hanging between the legs, as opposed to being above it, as is traditional.

The Glyphstone
2009-07-10, 11:33 PM
Any design that results in groin shots becoming the equivalent of headshots has great amounts of potential hilarity.

Kalbron
2009-07-11, 12:01 AM
The one question one must ask whenever designing a "mech" is "why could this not be done with a tank or similar vehicle?"

So I suppose I'm just wondering what the overall benefits of the bipedal design of yours would be warty goblin. I know it solves a lot of the problems of even considering the design in the first place, but I don't quite think it's viable just yet.

Thrawn183
2009-07-11, 12:28 AM
I wonder if it would be feasible to put the equivalent of a phalanx system on the mecha. That would go a long way towards protecting it from from medium sized missles. Hmmm, they were originally designed to protect against cruise missles, but I wonder if they would work on bombs as well?

I've only started thinking about this when warty started mention actual countermeasures.

warty goblin
2009-07-11, 01:56 AM
The one question one must ask whenever designing a "mech" is "why could this not be done with a tank or similar vehicle?"

So I suppose I'm just wondering what the overall benefits of the bipedal design of yours would be warty goblin. I know it solves a lot of the problems of even considering the design in the first place, but I don't quite think it's viable just yet.

Over a tank? None, but it's not meant to be a tank. It's much closer to an Infantry Fighting Vehicle or APC without transport capability. Over an IFV it might offer a few advantages- it's actually rather small in many respects*, and, as I indicated, is a difficult target to hit from the front. The head and body are only a few square meters, and sharply slanted enough to make ricochetts likely, while the legs don't need to be huge either. Even from the air its overall length is quite small compared to most fighting vehicles, although any significant hit from this attitude would almost certainly result in the complete destruction of the mech. It also should be relatively easy to camouflage in any setting with much in the way of trees- just paint its legs brown, and attach some foliage to the upper segments for an instant tree.

The modular weapons should offer a slight advantage as well- although it is possible to attach something like this to a conventional vehicle, I don't know of any that do so. I'd imagine that this is because one generally wants the weapons on a conventional vehicle in a turret, and that complicates matters significantly. Even without a pivoting waist however, the Treecat should be able to shuffle and thus rotate in a relatively small radius, probably smaller than a wheeled vehicle. This will allow it to overcome the disadvantage of more or less fixed weapons, and thus take better advantage of being able to swap them out for any given mission.

It also is probably slower than an APC or IFV, although since it operates entirely in a support role, it only needs to keep pace with infantry instead of armor. Nor is it something I would see being deployed in huge numbers, but probably one or two at a platoon, or possibly company level, again strictly in a support role. In this niche it actually offers a reasonable alternative for using heavy weapon teams, since it brings two of them to the table while only putting one soldier at risk instead of the four to eight it would require using manpower to move the weapons around. It isn't a breakthrough weapon by any means, but could offer significant advantages in terms of flexibility over rough terrain. Not a huge role, and it certainly isn't going to reshape the battlefield, but I think it's a reasonably plausible design.


* I'm assuming that the power supply and engines fit mostly in the 'body' portion, and sufficiently advanced models of such machinery have been created to be crammed into that space.

Anteros
2009-07-11, 06:37 AM
Revisiting the satellite idea here...what if in addition to shooting down whatever projectiles exceed a certain velocity...they also target and destroy whatever they deem to be the source of such projectiles within a given radius.

This seems like it would be a pretty good deterrent to using any type of ranged weaponry in all but the most extreme of cases.

Aotrs Commander
2009-07-11, 08:09 AM
How do you draw the line between a high-velocity projectile and the tip of a melee weapon wielded by a mecha? Given it's possible for a mere whip to crack the sound-barrier, the lower velocity you set, the greater the chance swinging you mech sword to hard gets you and everybody else lasered. And it still doesn't prevent low-velocity ranged weaponry, either. Without fiat up the wazzoo it is not simply possible to rationalise away ranged attacks, since even the most primative warfare used it, be it rocks or ballisitic missiles. Whatever the minimum required velocity is, the ranged weapons will simply be below that velocity. If it's low enough to affect throwing weapons...then I doubt very much they'll be much of a planet left to wage war over.

Also, another danger with that is that satelites start wasting energy shooting things the minute the winds get high enough. First typhoon in an area and it lasers entire settlements, forests etc etc.

Anteros
2009-07-11, 09:43 AM
How do you draw the line between a high-velocity projectile and the tip of a melee weapon wielded by a mecha? Given it's possible for a mere whip to crack the sound-barrier, the lower velocity you set, the greater the chance swinging you mech sword to hard gets you and everybody else lasered. And it still doesn't prevent low-velocity ranged weaponry, either. Without fiat up the wazzoo it is not simply possible to rationalise away ranged attacks, since even the most primative warfare used it, be it rocks or ballisitic missiles. Whatever the minimum required velocity is, the ranged weapons will simply be below that velocity. If it's low enough to affect throwing weapons...then I doubt very much they'll be much of a planet left to wage war over.

Also, another danger with that is that satelites start wasting energy shooting things the minute the winds get high enough. First typhoon in an area and it lasers entire settlements, forests etc etc.


Obviously you'd need some sort of combination of velocity, plus distance. Also, artificial intelligence doesn't seem that far removed from a world with this kind of tech. Maybe these satellites can recognize the difference between a bird and a jet or missile? We have recognition software today that's capable of much more than that...there's no reason a futuristic society couldn't have something similar.

It doesn't resolve the problem of smaller arms...but maybe people simply don't use those because they aren't effective against the mecha?

Dervag
2009-07-11, 10:19 AM
Titans are freaking hugnormis mechs, Dreads are merely big. Also Dreads are basically life support systems.Dreadnoughts (and Tau crisis suits) are small enough mecha that we can sort of justify them as infantry support platforms; they're not fifteen feet tall. A walking gun platform ten feet tall isn't all that much bigger a target than a tank.

Titans are a whole different ball game.
________

I like the "treecat" idea.

My theory is that if we ever see anything we'd call mecha, it's going to evolve from the bottom up when someone designs a really big suit of powered armor, not from the top down when someone tries to replace the main battle tank with a forty-foot walking battleship. A lot of the basic flaws in the mecha design concept disappear if we can keep the size down to nine or ten feet and the weight down to under, say, ten tons. It still has flaws, but so does everything else.

Thrawn183
2009-07-11, 10:52 AM
I'm curious about where the line between a power suit and a mecha is drawn.

Also, I think we can all agree that smaller is more realistic without using rule of cool, but where does size stop being feasible? 3m? 5m? 10m?

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-11, 11:28 AM
A power armor, in my mind, is something where the "pilot's" limbs extend into the machines limbs, and the overall machine is controlled by the pilot's actual movements. Basically, more suit of armor than vehicle. Mechs are large enough to give the pilot his own dedicated space, and can be controlled in any fashion. About the smallest mech you can get (for a human) is 5-6m, and a "realistic" one probably wouldn't be much bigger than this.

Deadmeat.GW
2009-07-11, 11:37 AM
I completely agree on this point. However I just don't see how it's possible. The main use of armor on a battlefield is to break through enemy positions and destroy enemy armor. Mechs by their very design will be able to carry less weaponry and armor than a tank of equivilent tonnage, and probably have lower endurance as well. They will also be easier targets. To me this indicates that they are not going to outdo tanks in breakthrough or anti-armor roles.

One could use them as a light weapon infantry support vehicle, so you'd have your HMG mech, your 80mm mortar mech, your grenade machine gun mech, and so on. Ideally the weapons systems would be modular, and thus able to be changed out of a single Universal Robot Chassis fairly quickly to simplify logistics. The problem they would face here is that infantry really does just fine at this role, is fairly cheap, and certainly more flexible. With transport vehicles they are likely to be just as mobile as well.

Recon is right out. Big stompy robots just aren't that covert.



Why do people insist that there is a quantitative difference between melee and ranged combat? There really isn't, since to a high degree of accuracy a melee weapon is simply a projectile that you hold. It's shaped differently, because it has a different launch platform, but fundamentally any armor that's effective against high calibre armor piercing rounds is going to be effective against large objects being swung at it. Reactive armor doesn't get you around this, since all it means is that when you whack the tank, the outside blows up and screws your weapon up, or else it electrocutes you.

I did not see the mecha as anything but upgraded infantry to be protected enough that they can do their job while not completely in cover.
Which is why I saw it more like Combat Engineer/Sapper type units.

Specifically designed to repair things while exposed to enemy fire without having to worry about massive amounts of small arms fire.

They will carry less weapons payload in general but their endurance would be about even if not slightly better.
On top of this I was thinking of them fighting in build up city scenario's, kinda like the Landmates in Appleseed.
A place where a tank would be running into an ambush really fast if not seriously supported by infantry.
The Russians found out how nasty such battlefields could be while they were battling for Berlin...
And they had damn good tanks for the anti-tank weapons of the time.

As for the melee attack, I am not advocating just swinging at it, I was more thinking of you clambering on top of the tank, bunker, ...and that you then drill a hole with a sort of clamped mine.
In Ghost in the Shell Batou uses a glove with directional shaped charges, something like that and due to the design and the way it would be clamped down and drilled in it would avoid some of the resistance from ablative and/or reactive armour.

Normally the reactive armour would explode out to counter the impact, with melee attacks I am thinking of you do not immediately trigger this but effectively use a cup to contain the whole of the blast and part of the power of the reactive armour against the surface you are attacking.

Even so, the mecha would be at best the back-up to other weapon systems.
Not the main-line fighter.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-11, 11:38 AM
Yeah. Iron Man is definitely a power suit. Movie Iron Monger is...fuzzy borderline, but leaning towards mecha.

To use the examples Dervage brought up, a Tau Crisis Suit is more power suit than Mecha, as I believe the pilot "wears" it. Whereas the Dreadnought is a Mecha.

BarroomBard
2009-07-11, 03:16 PM
I would say a Dreadnaught is really more "cyborg", technically.

Generally speaking, the limit is "Power armor is worn, Mecha are piloted".

Theoretically, a mecha could be as small as 2 meters, so long as the input is mostly via remote as opposed to force feedback (i.e., with power armor, you move you arm, and your force is translated to the suit's arm. with a mech, you move lever or other input device, and the mech's systems move the arm.) In this way, G Gundams, the machines from Robot Jox, and the Power Loader from Aliens are all mecha.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-11, 03:30 PM
That definition would mean, if I remember correctly, the Eva from Neon Genesis Evangelion are powered armour.

Fri
2009-07-11, 03:43 PM
They actually are powered armor. Evas are actually designated 'artificial human' in the series

Ravens_cry
2009-07-11, 04:05 PM
They actually are powered armor. Evas are actually designated 'artificial human' in the series
OK, thanks.I have only read about 3 of the manga, and only youtube clips of the series, so I am hardly an 'expert'.

Kalbron
2009-07-11, 05:31 PM
Eva are pretty weird at any rate, being less constructed machines of war and more specifically bred giant organisms with mechanical parts inserted for control.

That's not an entirely accurate description either, but I personally wouldn't really term them mecha myself.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-11, 06:06 PM
I'd say Evas are much closer to mecha than powered armor. In fact, I'd say that, generally speaking, they are mecha.

Powered armor is just that; armor worn directly on the body that gives power to the user. If your arms are in the device's arms, it's powered armor. And so on.

If you're in a central control module, and the whole thing is around you, controlled "remotely", even if it's with a neural interface, it's a mecha.

Though yes, Dreadnought are probably more cyborg than straight mecha.

Oslecamo
2009-07-11, 06:54 PM
I'd say Evas are much closer to mecha than powered armor. In fact, I'd say that, generally speaking, they are mecha.

Powered armor is just that; armor worn directly on the body that gives power to the user. If your arms are in the device's arms, it's powered armor. And so on.

If you're in a central control module, and the whole thing is around you, controlled "remotely", even if it's with a neural interface, it's a mecha.

Though yes, Dreadnought are probably more cyborg than straight mecha.

Evas are giant genetic/divine monstruosities that wear powered armor so they can be controled. They aren't machines. They're living abominations that humies learned to control. They just look like mechas so their pilots won't go mad from the truth.

If anything, they are some wicked mounts.

Also, dreadnoughts worck in a complete mechanical way, and the pilot is sealed inside a sarchophagus wich is actually separate from the robot. It's common practise that when the sarchophagus is destroyed the dreadnought itself is rescued, repaired and given a new "pilot".

KnightDisciple
2009-07-11, 07:09 PM
Well, I consider them "mecha" in the same way that Guyvers are "powered armor".

I realize there's deep and horrible truths about the nature of Evas, but the general portrayal and operation on the show is consistent with that of typical mecha.

This isn't about whether something is mechanical or not. It's a more general "how big is it, how is it controlled" classification.

Oslecamo
2009-07-11, 07:15 PM
This isn't about whether something is mechanical or not. It's a more general "how big is it, how is it controlled" classification.

Well, considering that the hardest part of controling an Eva is stoping it from going bersek, taking over the pilot's mind and destroying the world, I would say that they still don't fall under the category of mecha.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-11, 07:16 PM
Evas are giant genetic/divine monstruosities that wear powered armor so they can be controled. They aren't machines. They're living abominations that humies learned to control. They just look like mechas so their pilots won't go mad from the truth.

If anything, they are some wicked mounts.

Then they are bio-mechanical mecha. We are talking from the perspective of the pilots here, not the Eva themselves. I think the mecha from Vision of Eschaflowne were also bio-mechanical, though perhaps not to the same extent.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-11, 07:18 PM
Well, considering that the hardest part of controling an Eva is stoping it from going bersek, taking over the pilot's mind and destroying the world, I would say that they still don't fall under the category of mecha.

As in, does the pilot wear it strapped around them? Or are they in a central control module?

Evas: central control moduel. Neural interface with some interesting feedback issues.

It's a giant biomechanical mecha.

I realize NGE isn't a typical mecha show. But for the purposes of this discussion, it's just a somewhat more squicky mecha.

Zain
2009-07-11, 07:45 PM
I don't recall WH40K justifying any of its tech very much (including Dreadnaughts and Eldar Wraithlords), aside from "lol psykers" or somesuch.

both Dreadnaughts and wraintlords are in effect a new body for some hero of that race, their bodies die but their sprites live to fight on, kinda like gosts but in huge ass suits of amour

and as for titans, "lols robots" is all i can find

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-11, 08:26 PM
Well, considering that the hardest part of controling an Eva is stoping it from going bersek, taking over the pilot's mind and destroying the world, I would say that they still don't fall under the category of mecha.
I don't know about you, but if I had a mecha, I'd initially be quite concerned about that ownership going straight to my head, going berserk with it, and destroying the world.

Initially.

chiasaur11
2009-07-11, 08:39 PM
I don't know about you, but if I had a mecha, I'd initially be quite concerned about that ownership going straight to my head, going berserk with it, and destroying the world.

Initially.

I wouldn't.

Worrying takes away valuable rampaging time.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-11, 09:16 PM
One way to justify the expense and impracticality of mechs, while still using them, is to have them be like the staff weapons of of Stargate SG1, weapons of terror, notwar. Have them be the weapons of braggadocio invaders expecting little serious resistance. Because having even 4 meter metal man coming at you would be pretty terrifiyng.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-11, 11:16 PM
That actually fits. Staff weapons were designed by hedonistic twits who cared more about looking scary than any actual tactical advantage, after all.

This was also the explanation for mecha in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, though it failed to address the inherent physical problems other than very fast mechs tending to kill their pilots with G-forces.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-12, 12:16 AM
That actually fits. Staff weapons were designed by hedonistic twits who cared more about looking scary than any actual tactical advantage, after all.

This was also the explanation for mecha in Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, though it failed to address the inherent physical problems other than very fast mechs tending to kill their pilots with G-forces.
Well, in theory, with an applied Phlebotinum power source and unobtainium materials, a reasonably sized mech may very well be possible to build. It would have to have feet like snow shoes just to not sink in the dirt, but possible. After all, while made of meat and bone, very light weight yet strong materials, there were bipedal dinosaurs about the size of mechs. Just no one seeking an actual advantage over anyone but pre world war one soldiers would build the damn things.

Oslecamo
2009-07-12, 07:59 AM
I wouldn't.

Worrying takes away valuable rampaging time.

And then a random dude with a scarf takes you down.

That's actually one of the least humiliating defeats giant monstruosities semi controled by humans have received.

Kalbron
2009-07-12, 08:14 AM
Ewoks being the worst.

See? That's what we've all been forgetting! Even if all the various issues align to enable the useage of mecha... have they been made Ewok proof?! This is an important issue!

:smallbiggrin:

Oslecamo
2009-07-12, 08:33 AM
Ewoks being the worst.

See? That's what we've all been forgetting! Even if all the various issues align to enable the useage of mecha... have they been made Ewok proof?! This is an important issue!

:smallbiggrin:

Let's not get our hopes too high.

Making mechas with pointy sticks being better than regular war machines, that's hard, but with enough plebonium, ancient unknown techonlogy and stuff it can worck.

But mechas defeating the teddy bears with prehistoric weaponry? That's a completely lost cause:smalltongue:

Nerd-o-rama: well, that may actually be a good idea out of this mess. Alien space ship heading to terrify Earth crashes, humanity recovers the terror mechas, wich are centuries ahead of our current level of technology, and thus immune to our regular weapons, but said mechas are only equiped with melee weaponry

We can replicate them, but we cannot adapt their technology to ranged weapons, forcing a return to close warfare.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-12, 12:04 PM
Your missing something. Any material that could be used to armour against a melee attack, would be equally good, or, worse against ranged. Melee get's around it limited speed with sharpness, ranged gets around it's dullness with speed.
Even if we just created unobtainium jacketed slugs, we could punch holes in them. And a few hundred such slugs would make mister mecha, mister swiss cheese, especially if shot at vulnerable spots, like oh, the legs.

Prime32
2009-07-12, 12:10 PM
Okay, what if the shielding technology being used can only be penetrated by small, thin objects, but these objects must also be emitting a counter-field which requires a large generator? The best way to get through is a melee weapon with an external power source. Tanks and planes aren't good at swinging swords.

I suppose missiles are still possible, but they'd be difficult to engineer and of limited effectiveness. The best design I can think of sheds its outer plating just before impact to reveal a syringe-like inner structure which injects liquid explosives.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-12, 12:21 PM
Okay, what if the shielding technology being used can only be penetrated by small, thin objects, but these objects must also be emitting a counter-field which requires a large generator? The best way to get through is a melee weapon with an external power source.

That's a very specific piece of phlebotinum. Makes you wonder what creatures with ranged weapons the encroaching invaders are fighting.
An air version of the wire torpedo? It would take time to develop and it limits your range, but if you got longer range then then their reach with giant swords, you're winning.

Aotrs Commander
2009-07-12, 01:13 PM
Anything that you can put on a giant mecha-sword, you can put on a giant mecha-spear. Or a mecha-pilum. Or a ballista bolt. Or a guided ballista bolt...




An air version of the wire torpedo?

An air version of a wire-guided torpedo...? That'd be like a...wire-guided missile wouldn't it? Hey, if you stuck it in a launch tube and used visual sensors as the primary targeting and tracking system, you could almost call it a Tube-launched Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile, couldn't you...?

Ravens_cry
2009-07-12, 01:51 PM
An air version of a wire-guided torpedo...? That'd be like a...wire-guided missile wouldn't it? Hey, if you stuck it in a launch tube and used visual sensors as the primary targeting and tracking system, you could almost call it a Tube-launched Optically tracked, Wire-guided missile, couldn't you...?
Yes, I guess you could. I guess my military hardware-fu wasn't up to snuff, huh?. But hey, it's nice to know the idea already exists. The wires might have to be a bit thicker to carry the power to pierce the phlebotinum sheilding, but even this oh so specific shielding falls before the might of practical weapons of war. Eat it, mech!

Dervag
2009-07-12, 03:30 PM
Okay, what if the shielding technology being used can only be penetrated by small, thin objects, but these objects must also be emitting a counter-field which requires a large generator? The best way to get through is a melee weapon with an external power source. Tanks and planes aren't good at swinging swords.

I suppose missiles are still possible, but they'd be difficult to engineer and of limited effectiveness. The best design I can think of sheds its outer plating just before impact to reveal a syringe-like inner structure which injects liquid explosives.So... a modified sabot round (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sabot), then?

warty goblin
2009-07-12, 09:32 PM
Okay, what if the shielding technology being used can only be penetrated by small, thin objects, but these objects must also be emitting a counter-field which requires a large generator? The best way to get through is a melee weapon with an external power source. Tanks and planes aren't good at swinging swords.

I suppose missiles are still possible, but they'd be difficult to engineer and of limited effectiveness. The best design I can think of sheds its outer plating just before impact to reveal a syringe-like inner structure which injects liquid explosives.

Another question that crosses my mind if we postulate such force fields is why would I bother to engage an army of melee oriented mecha at all?

Think about it for a minute. Their force projection is about ten feet, and they are unlikely (to say the least) to be faster, or even as fast as an armored formation. Thus even if my ranged army can't destroy them, it's unlikely they can do much to me either, and I can certainly harass my enemy's supply lines, industrial base and less vital positions. It probably wouldn't suffice to win a total war since the melee mecha could still deny me some ground (namely where they are right now), but most wars historically have not been total and even in such a scenario such harassment would still be of great military use.

This wouldn't mean that giant forcefield protected sword weilding mecha wouldn't be a part of warfare, but they certainly wouldn't be the sum total of it.

Kalbron
2009-07-12, 09:39 PM
Or better yet, invest heavily in landmine technology.

We can't hit you from range, but we can make damned sure you aren't going to get close enough to stab anyone with your mecha-spear.

KnightDisciple
2009-07-12, 09:42 PM
I just had a thought.

Macross had a semi-decent reason for mecha.

To fight dudes who were as big as mecha. Power armor on those dudes makes them about as deadly as mecha.

Kalbron
2009-07-12, 10:27 PM
Macross also has Japanese Idol Singers saving the universe through song.

Nothing about giants in power armour says you should counter them with mecha. To me it says "Open Fire!" and "Fall back with cover fire!".

If something is huge, it's easier to hit from range after all.

warty goblin
2009-07-12, 10:42 PM
Macross also has Japanese Idol Singers saving the universe through song.

Nothing about giants in power armour says you should counter them with mecha. To me it says "Open Fire!" and "Fall back with cover fire!".

If something is huge, it's easier to hit from range after all.

Although to be fair, if it's big enough you will probably need a bigger gun...

Ravens_cry
2009-07-13, 12:09 AM
Although to be fair, if it's big enough you will probably need a bigger gun...
That's why God invented Artillery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery),"that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

warty goblin
2009-07-13, 12:36 AM
That's why God invented Artillery (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artillery),"that with it thou mayst blow thine enemies to tiny bits, in thy mercy."

And then why He made APCBC rounds for that artillery. Because if absolutely nothing else, a 1 ton projectile traveling at 800 meters per second is going to put a dent into something.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-13, 12:41 AM
And then why He made APCBC rounds for that artillery. Because if absolutely nothing else, a 1 ton projectile traveling at 800 meters per second is going to put a dent into something.
As it is written, "Damn straight."

Xondoure
2009-07-13, 03:47 AM
How about... An ancient civilization left behind fragments of technology on a barren, futuristic earth. The bronze age empires that have started to grow out of this harsh landscape rediscovers much of this technology, and reconstruct it in the best way they no how, their own image. This means:
A) No guns, missiles, or lasers because they simply haven't been thought of.
B) The tech there using doesn't have to be explained because they don't understand more than 12% of it.
C) The culture is bronze age
I dare you to try and poke holes in my plan.

Kalbron
2009-07-13, 05:14 AM
Exactly how did the ancient society die off and why is there anything of it left?

Why, if advanced tech to build massive robots with melee weapons survived, didn't simplistic and very hardy weapons like AK-47s?

If their culture is bronze age, how do they understand the tech well enough to use it?

If their culture is bronze age, why won't they decide to worship the giant robots as idols instead of viewing them as weapons?

If their culture is bronze age, how could they possibly reconstruct that which requires technologies such as steel?

If their culture is bronze age and it has been the hundreds or thousands of years neccessary to ensure that all knowledge of the past civilisation is forgotten by humanity, how can they possibly read the old language to even grasp the most basic of concepts expoused by the ancient civilisation? Shakespear after all is difficult understand less than 500 years later.

Deadmeat.GW
2009-07-13, 05:54 AM
I still think the 'mecha' should not be purely designed for melee but more equiped with very effective clamp on shaped charges to defeat advances in armour and counters to targetting systems.

Heavy Infantry is what comes to mind for me actually.

Parra
2009-07-13, 05:58 AM
Would a point defence system equiped on the mechs not counter alot of the ballistic problems? Basically anything large enough to damage the mech is shot down fast. Im thinking something along the lines of what modern Aircraft carriers use to shoot down incoming missiles, though obviously smaller to fit on the mech. To greater or lesser degree's this also negates alot of an aircrafts missile based weaponry.

Doesnt stop a nuke or really big bomb blowing up nearby, but then 'energy shields' could counter that. So your defence is basically 2 fold; 1 stops ballistics the other stops energy blasts.

The only problem then would be landmine type explosives. A simple counter would be 'sniffer sensors' that can essentially smell the explosives at range. Sure there might be ways to disguise it, but that could still alert the pilot to a potential hazard.

Sure there is nothing stopping you from bunging all this into a tank but then I wonder why do people think that tanks would be more mobile than mecha? I would have thought that mecha are a helluva lot more mobile than a tank.

Kalbron
2009-07-13, 06:21 AM
Tanks are actually very, very agile. They may not have the top speed of a car or a bike, but they are also quite litterally moving more than 10 times the amount of weight. They were originally designed with the wretched terrain conditions of trench warfare in WW1 after all. Besides which, treads capable of independant motion mean tanks can turn on the spot, and a fully rotational turret results in not exactly being able to hide.

About the only terrain types that tanks cannot work in are deep bogs/swamps and very steep mountains. Which would also cause great issue for bipedal robots because they face the same problems in regards to the swamps, and they need very specific construction to deal with the latter.

Also, in regards to a point defence system I present the A-10 Thunderbolt II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II) and its little friend the GAU-8 Avenger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8_Avenger). Missiles aren't the only airborne tank killers available. Sometimes throwing a few thousand rounds of depleted uranium at something at supersonic speeds can work just as well. :smallbiggrin:

Parra
2009-07-13, 06:50 AM
I still dont see how that manouverabilty is superior to that of a bipedel machine?

I would have thought that any independant track movement is still slower than a biped turning. Im also pretty sure they can make more drastic changes in direction more rapidly than a tank could. Im not saying a tanking couldnt do it, simply that a biped can do it faster.
Any advantage a turrent can give in terms of rapid re-aiming on a weapon can also be achieved by the Biped combing twisting at the hips and movement of the arms.
You could even convieably allow the mech a full 360 rotation at the hip (as well as shoulder, elbow, neck and knee/ankle) to allow very rapid changes in facing.
That, I think, would make for a fairly agile war machine.

Edit:

Also, in regards to a point defence system I present the A-10 Thunderbolt II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A-10_Thunderbolt_II) and its little friend the GAU-8 Avenger (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GAU-8_Avenger). Missiles aren't the only airborne tank killers available. Sometimes throwing a few thousand rounds of depleted uranium at something at supersonic speeds can work just as well. :smallbiggrin:
in theory though, assuming the mech had an equivilent system with a fast enough targeting system, then it could defelect/intercerpt/negate alot of those bullets too (such systems are underdevelopment now).
Sure you can use saturation fire tactics on it, but then if there are multiple mechs in close formtion then then can co-operativly negate the incoming fire.
That also dovetails into why the mechs are in formation to begin with (per the op's request)

warty goblin
2009-07-13, 10:05 AM
I still dont see how that manouverabilty is superior to that of a bipedel machine?

I would have thought that any independant track movement is still slower than a biped turning. Im also pretty sure they can make more drastic changes in direction more rapidly than a tank could. Im not saying a tanking couldnt do it, simply that a biped can do it faster.
Any advantage a turrent can give in terms of rapid re-aiming on a weapon can also be achieved by the Biped combing twisting at the hips and movement of the arms.

Sure, you could do it, but I'm unsure about how fast such rotation could occur in a humanoid. Assuming a generally human porportioning, most of the power plant is going to have to be in the torso, while most of the standard movement equipment is going to be in the legs (or perhaps more accurately, is the legs). Engine blocks weigh a lot, and this means in order to rotate at the waist, you need a fairly powerful set up that isn't the legs.

The advantage of a tank rotating is that it does so using two very discrete systems- the treads, which are designed to move the entire vehicle- and the turret, which contains only the main armament. It's simply less complex than being able to rotate at the waist, and makes a whole lot more sense from an engineering perspective

Alternatively you could rotate a mech more or less in position by stepping backwards with one leg, and forwards with the other. This obviously requires more space, but has the advantage that it doens't require any new hardware.


You could even convieably allow the mech a full 360 rotation at the hip (as well as shoulder, elbow, neck and knee/ankle) to allow very rapid changes in facing.
That, I think, would make for a fairly agile war machine.

Here's the thing: Joints are hard to make, hard to maintain, and are generally the weakest point in a construction. The more of them you have, the more chance something is going to go wrong with one of them, particularly since they are really, really hard to armor. The armoring situation gets worse and worse the greater the degree of rotation you give them as well. If I put arms on a mech, which I find to be self indulgant since they are basically the world's most unneccessarily complex stores pylons, I'd give them one joint at the shoulder, and a simple pivot at the 'wrist,' tops.


Edit:

in theory though, assuming the mech had an equivilent system with a fast enough targeting system, then it could defelect/intercerpt/negate alot of those bullets too (such systems are underdevelopment now).
Sure you can use saturation fire tactics on it, but then if there are multiple mechs in close formtion then then can co-operativly negate the incoming fire.
That also dovetails into why the mechs are in formation to begin with (per the op's request)

A: Why not put the point defense systems on tanks?

B: There are plenty of projectiles that really don't care about point defense, such as armor piercing shells from a high calibre gun- they simply are too heavy and have too much momentum to easily have their course altered. Even shells from more or less standard sized artillery- say 155mm- weigh about a hundred pounds, and at 800 meters per second aren't going to be thrown off course all that much by 20mm autocannon rounds.

Parra
2009-07-13, 10:14 AM
Well I would assume the rate of rotation for any mech joint would at least equal the track/turret turning rate of a tank. Given multiple joints that allowd for more rapid reaiming/repostioning.

And what is wrong with weak joints? The mech is naturally going to have similar jointing to any biped, im just expanding on it by giving a greater range of rotaion. Also assuming you can stop incoming energy/ballistic attacks then the only way to exploit that weakness would be at extreme close range aka hand-to-hand, which is what the OP is looking for.

As for incoming ballistics shells of artillery calibre (or high calibre armor piercing) then you dont need to just defelct, but you can detonate them as well. Also if your hitting the object with a high force even if its non-explosive it can still lose all of its power to point point on no longer being able to piece the mechs armor.
This ofc doesnt stop large solid projectiles (like railgun style) but thats another issue.

nothingclever
2009-07-13, 10:16 AM
This discussion is getting painful to read. Why do people use any vehicles or soldiers at all in warfare if we can just snipe each other infinitely with other weaponry? So many responses are "5 million different projectiles could kill a mech." Those same 5 million projectiles could kill your tank. Why make either then if they're both such a big dumb impractical waste of engineering skill? Why don't people just put all their soldiers at desks with control panels so they can fire their pew pew lasers indefinitely far far away from the battlefield? Oh wait, because that's what really isn't practical yet people are saying mechs are useless if ranged weapons can get them. Why aren't tanks useless too? /facepalm

13_CBS
2009-07-13, 10:29 AM
Why aren't tanks useless too? /facepalm

I'm under the impression that they're rapidly becoming just that. :smallconfused:

warty goblin
2009-07-13, 10:58 AM
This discussion is getting painful to read. Why do people use any vehicles or soldiers at all in warfare if we can just snipe each other infinitely with other weaponry? So many responses are "5 million different projectiles could kill a mech." Those same 5 million projectiles could kill your tank. Why make either then if they're both such a big dumb impractical waste of engineering skill? Why don't people just put all their soldiers at desks with control panels so they can fire their pew pew lasers indefinitely far far away from the battlefield? Oh wait, because that's what really isn't practical yet people are saying mechs are useless if ranged weapons can get them. Why aren't tanks useless too? /facepalm

I'm not advocating for an all-artillery army, or an all airforce army, or an all anything army, and never have. What I am am arguing is that an army that uses combined arms will enjoy a lot of very great advantages over an all-mecha army, and probably due to the nature of mecha, over an army that substitutes mecha for tanks.

This is exacurbated when you are trying to build a mech that is only armed for melee, because then if I can kill your mech at range, it is well and truly useless. I hardly see anything inconsistant in that position.

Krrth
2009-07-13, 11:05 AM
About the only way can see Melee Mechs being used is in the following scenario:
Weapons have developed to the point where if you use them, everyone dies. So, the concept of a Champion makes a comeback. Two (or more) opponents use mechs and duel.

Sure, a modern army could chew through them, but at least this way the PPV makes a killing.

13_CBS
2009-07-13, 11:26 AM
Hold it! Krrth, and others who have suggested gladiatorial style matches have given me an idea...

This veers a bit from the original idea of having melee robots be the primary combat units in open warfare, but...what about gladiatorial games? Let's say that, for some reason, big robots armed with melee weapons become the main attraction to gladiatorial matches, with levels of popularity approaching that of modern day football or soccer. Teams of a few hundred (300-500) big robots battle against each other for glory, honor, and the monies.

Would that work?

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 11:51 AM
If it's a sport (even a bloodsport), you can add whatever rules you want. Just bear in mind you're going to need a very specific kind of very resource-rich society for a sport this expensive and ridiculous to become popular.

Same with one on one duels. Again, see G Gundam.

13_CBS
2009-07-13, 11:54 AM
Just bear in mind you're going to need a very specific kind of very resource-rich society for a sport this expensive and ridiculous to become popular.


Meh, NFL football. :smalltongue:

Thrawn183
2009-07-13, 12:24 PM
The new Yankee's stadium... just how much did that cost again?

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 12:26 PM
Well, square the size and then add the cost of battle damage after every game, and you get the idea here.

Xondoure
2009-07-13, 12:37 PM
Exactly how did the ancient society die off and why is there anything of it left?

Why, if advanced tech to build massive robots with melee weapons survived, didn't simplistic and very hardy weapons like AK-47s?

If their culture is bronze age, how do they understand the tech well enough to use it?

If their culture is bronze age, why won't they decide to worship the giant robots as idols instead of viewing them as weapons?

If their culture is bronze age, how could they possibly reconstruct that which requires technologies such as steel?

If their culture is bronze age and it has been the hundreds or thousands of years neccessary to ensure that all knowledge of the past civilisation is forgotten by humanity, how can they possibly read the old language to even grasp the most basic of concepts expoused by the ancient civilisation? Shakespear after all is difficult understand less than 500 years later.

Nuclear war, they destroyed themselves

The idea is advanced research facilities have been discovered around the world, holding vast amounts of technology which they have used as guidelines for creating these robotic armor suits. So basic weaponry isn't exactly in abundance, more advanced weaponry is, but as you said, they don't understand it.

Using trial and error, they have some basic understanding of what it does.

They built the giant robots, although I suspect that only the most honored and respected warriors would be granted the privilege to pilot one, and they may well be seen as gods, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't use them.

They use the parts from the research centers themselves originally, and then discovered how to make most of the materials in one of the larger research facilities.

Simple, they don't, although I would suspect some people try. That is why there knowledge is so limited, and they haven't figured out things such as guns, tanks, and planes which would make their mecha obsolete.
:smallbiggrin:

chiasaur11
2009-07-13, 12:48 PM
Hey, it's what they used giant robots for in Bouncing Boy's origin story.

The pitfighting, I mean.

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-13, 01:07 PM
This veers a bit from the original idea of having melee robots be the primary combat units in open warfare, but...what about gladiatorial games? Let's say that, for some reason, big robots armed with melee weapons become the main attraction to gladiatorial matches, with levels of popularity approaching that of modern day football or soccer. Teams of a few hundred (300-500) big robots battle against each other for glory, honor, and the monies.

Would that work?
In the case of gladiatorial matches, what I think would happen is that whoever wins the first game has a really nasty resources advantage over everyone else in the world. That is, the winning country still has its champion-bot-team, and also has all the monies to build new-and-improved bots, whilst the losing countries have nothing and must use that nothing to make a better team than the champion. I'm not saying it's impossible, just that you need to handwave a whole lot of economics and politics.

On the other hand, if you have everyone trapped in the Matrix, the Matrix has robots, and people don't find out they're in the Matrix in the first place, you might be able to pull something out there. Just that "It's the Matrix!" becomes your answer to everything, and that gets boring.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 02:13 PM
If it's a sport, or even a formalized political competition, we can assume that countries aren't spending their whole GDP on the silly things with nothing in reserve. They can always build more.

Like I said, the global society needs to be quite rich.

Dervag
2009-07-13, 02:17 PM
Nuclear war, they destroyed themselves

The idea is advanced research facilities have been discovered around the world, holding vast amounts of technology which they have used as guidelines for creating these robotic armor suits. So basic weaponry isn't exactly in abundance, more advanced weaponry is, but as you said, they don't understand it.

Using trial and error, they have some basic understanding of what it does.

They built the giant robots, although I suspect that only the most honored and respected warriors would be granted the privilege to pilot one, and they may well be seen as gods, but that doesn't mean they wouldn't use them.

They use the parts from the research centers themselves originally, and then discovered how to make most of the materials in one of the larger research facilities.

Simple, they don't, although I would suspect some people try. That is why there knowledge is so limited, and they haven't figured out things such as guns, tanks, and planes which would make their mecha obsolete.
:smallbiggrin:... Do you have experience working with high-tech or military hardware?

There's a serious problem with this setup: maintaining the giant robots can't just be done out of ancient stockpiles that no one understands how to duplicate. Things break and have to be replaced, or you have to create new precision-manufactured equipment to do something that no one had the equipment to do. Even if you don't need to discover any new technology, you still need the capacity to reshape existing technology and replace it when it breaks.


Hold it! Krrth, and others who have suggested gladiatorial style matches have given me an idea...

This veers a bit from the original idea of having melee robots be the primary combat units in open warfare, but...what about gladiatorial games? Let's say that, for some reason, big robots armed with melee weapons become the main attraction to gladiatorial matches, with levels of popularity approaching that of modern day football or soccer. Teams of a few hundred (300-500) big robots battle against each other for glory, honor, and the monies.

Would that work?This works, especially for a society that has a LOT of surplus heavy industrial capacity kicking around. An advanced future society might well have automated factories capable of building and repairing giant melee robots for relatively small sums of money.

Thrawn183
2009-07-13, 02:19 PM
Oh I don't mean the mechs fighting in an actual stadium. I just mean that if you take the majority of the money spent on stadiums and gear and the like for sports and instead spent it on mechs, that's a lot of money to spend.

Then just stick the mechs in a desert somewhere with a bunch of video cameras.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-13, 02:26 PM
Oh I don't mean the mechs fighting in an actual stadium. I just mean that if you take the majority of the money spent on stadiums and gear and the like for sports and instead spent it on mechs, that's a lot of money to spend.

Then just stick the mechs in a desert somewhere with a bunch of video cameras.
It could be like Potlatch."I am so rich, I am able to to not only build this giant robot, and not only can I build this enormous stadium, but I can afford to rebuild it after every battle." Conspicuous consumption, an ancient and still used means of chest-beating.

Xondoure
2009-07-13, 04:00 PM
Oh I don't mean the mechs fighting in an actual stadium. I just mean that if you take the majority of the money spent on stadiums and gear and the like for sports and instead spent it on mechs, that's a lot of money to spend.

Then just stick the mechs in a desert somewhere with a bunch of video cameras.

So... like zoid battlefields?

And as to the thing with manufacturing, I already said they figured out how to build a lot of the tech from one of the larger research centers. Using actual parts from the ancients would eventually become an honor given to only the most advanced pilots.
The economy is solved with bronze age logic, as long as their is lands to conquer, there is loot to fuel your military giant (no pun intended).

OracleofWuffing
2009-07-13, 06:12 PM
I am not a military genius, but why did the ancient society nuke everything except the research centers, and why didn't either side have effective fallout shelters?


If it's a sport, or even a formalized political competition, we can assume that countries aren't spending their whole GDP on the silly things with nothing in reserve. They can always build more.

Like I said, the global society needs to be quite rich.
While that certainly is encouraging to the gladiatorial type robo-challenge, I think the point remains: If the champion gets money out of it, and if that money is of any significance to the sport, the winner gets a sudden windfall in GDP. If the nations involved are as rich as you say they need to be (and, assuming that the political environment is heavenly-level stable, so nobody riots about these games when they could be helping the starving kids in _____), there are two places to invest the prize money:
A) The president's/king's/supreme dictator's/czar's/prime minister's/etc's solid gold pizza-making diamond-encrusted ferrari collection, or
B) More robots.

And before anyone else says it, yes, I'm assuming a solid gold pizza-making diamond-encrusted ferrari would lose against a standard battle robot.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 09:19 PM
Robots are 11 to a team. Or 300 to a team. Whatever, there's still a limit to how many you can field in the sport. Build as many as you like, you'll just have better reserves. Or use the prize to build better robots, and you're the New York Yankees. That's just how sports work, albeit usually not with direct prize money for winning.

And the "Robot Gladiator" theory, at least in my mind, assumes that there is a compelling reason not to use these gladiators in open warfare (aside from the fact that they don't fit into modern combined arms). Say, the world is actually one government and these games are for the amusement of the masses, or there's an inescapable level of MAD from nuclear weapons, and that's why international combat is so ritualized.

In other words, my conception at least is that the hypothetical "robot gladiators" setting is distinct from our hypothetical "robot soldiers" setting.

Krrth
2009-07-13, 09:24 PM
Indeed. While I won't say Mechs would be useless in a War setting, they would most likely be in a specialist role. Powered armor, as previously stated, qould be a whole different ballgame.

Gladiatorial would, in the long run, probably be cheaper than a full scale war.

Kalbron
2009-07-13, 09:38 PM
You know what this puts me in mind of? All those silly and illogical anime where the world has its conflicts resolved through spinning tops/card games/remote control cars/random futuristic sports. That being said however it's probably the best chance for the OP's specifications to come into play.

As stated however, powered armour is a whole other ball game. If you can invent something that will enable a soldier to be nigh bullet proof, explosion resistant and able to shift more than 10 times their weight, then you will be filthy rich for the rest of your life.

Or assassinated for the plans, one of the two. ;)

chiasaur11
2009-07-13, 09:43 PM
You know what this puts me in mind of? All those silly and illogical anime where the world has its conflicts resolved through spinning tops/card games/remote control cars/random futuristic sports. That being said however it's probably the best chance for the OP's specifications to come into play.

As stated however, powered armour is a whole other ball game. If you can invent something that will enable a soldier to be nigh bullet proof, explosion resistant and able to shift more than 10 times their weight, then you will be filthy rich for the rest of your life.

Or assassinated for the plans, one of the two. ;)

Or be very, very disappointed at being ninja'd.

There's that stuff in the works already. Super strength, at least, is go.

Look up the HAL-5, by Cyberdyne.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 09:58 PM
You know what this puts me in mind of? All those silly and illogical anime where the world has its conflicts resolved through spinning tops/card games/remote control cars/random futuristic sports. That being said however it's probably the best chance for the OP's specifications to come into play.Yeah. And G Gundam did it with mechs before Pokemon got big and everyone started copying it.

Just saying.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-13, 10:17 PM
Then they are bio-mechanical mecha. We are talking from the perspective of the pilots here, not the Eva themselves. I think the mecha from Vision of Eschaflowne were also bio-mechanical, though perhaps not to the same extent.
Nope. Those were steampunk contraptions that just happened to a have a mystical power source. Yes, they're literally dragon hearts, but those are really closer to being magical gems than anything else.

Escaflowne itself might've also been magically enchanted or something but it's still primarily a clockwork suit of armor. The Zaibach mechs probably ran on the power of alchemy, which is more or less just magic that the characters have more or less roped into being technology.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-13, 10:20 PM
Yeah. And G Gundam did it with mechs before Pokemon got big and everyone started copying it.

Just saying.
Say what you will but I rather liked Yu-Gi-Oh's notion that the card game is the modern analog of a game played by ancient Egyptian sorcerers in their bid for power. With both players staking their sanity and soul in a metaphysical duel to the death.

It seems to work perfectly somehow. A sorcerer's duel that is ritualized into a "game." A contest of intellect and strategy that forces the loser into a howling abyss.

Kalbron
2009-07-13, 10:37 PM
Or be very, very disappointed at being ninja'd.

There's that stuff in the works already. Super strength, at least, is go.

Look up the HAL-5, by Cyberdyne.

True, but managing to stick armouring plates onto super suits, rig them up with all the neccessary communication and analysis equipment, and still have it be possible to be mass produced at a semi-reasonable cost is a long way off. Anyone that can make it possible for an "affordable" price will basically either be confined for life by the US military or rich beyond their wildest imagination. Or both. :smallbiggrin:

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-13, 10:52 PM
As stated however, powered armour is a whole other ball game. If you can invent something that will enable a soldier to be nigh bullet proof, explosion resistant and able to shift more than 10 times their weight, then you will be filthy rich for the rest of your life.
You'd be rich. But not because of the power armor. You'll be rich (and have won several Nobel Prizes) because you made several different breakthrough discoveries for a number of diverse smaller problems not related to making your average infantryman invincible.

Many of which will have plenty of application both civilian and military. Making really strong infantry would be comparatively unimaginative.

Kalbron
2009-07-13, 10:54 PM
It might be unimaginative, but I don't see the funding for most of the technology coming from anywhere else but DARPA, and guess what they'll want it for?

Considering all the other technological advances that have come from their funding, I won't be overly surprised when it does eventually happen.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-13, 10:55 PM
It might be unimaginative, but I don't see the funding for most of the technology coming from anywhere else but DARPA, and guess what they'll want it for?
DARPA seems like a joke to me anyway. Most of their "advances" depend heavily about civilian scientists and engineers getting down most of the hard scientific basics for them. That's not the military pushing basic science.

I could have told those idiots that a rifle with a really heavy camera on top of it is a really stupid idea. Anybody with any sense of practical reality would have noticed it. Trying to shoot a bulky rifle that recoils around a corner is a move of desperation anyway.

It's a clumsy way of solving a problem. If, for example, you have magical phlebotinum that lets you fly a humanoid robot around with graceful ease, you don't waste it on robots. You make better missiles, aircraft, cars and jetpacks. It would revolutionize military logistics, weapons and the civilian sector. You might even be able to fly things to space more cheaply and safely, making reusable commercial spacecraft a reality. Telecommunications also becomes much cheaper and more accessible as a result.

A man who invents that kind of power armor you propose probably has invented a lot of other things along the way and has already long gotten rich before then. Or more realistically, he's aping the brilliance of his betters.

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-13, 11:38 PM
Say what you will but I rather liked Yu-Gi-Oh's notion that the card game is the modern analog of a game played by ancient Egyptian sorcerers in their bid for power. With both players staking their sanity and soul in a metaphysical duel to the death.

It seems to work perfectly somehow. A sorcerer's duel that is ritualized into a "game." A contest of intellect and strategy that forces the loser into a howling abyss.Yeah, it was a pretty great concept, actually. One of the reasons I watched the cartoon slightly longer than I did Pokemon.

Actual card game's still pretty lame, though.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-07-14, 12:11 AM
...largely tagging this for later consumption.

Also: has anyone considered the powerful-and-bulky powerplant angle?
Put simply, Future Society develop a powerplant that produces huge amounts of energy but cannot be miniaturized. This powerplant can be used to fuel all kinds of megatech - force shields, lightsabers, beam rifles - but cannot be moved about by anything smaller than our 20' robot.

A megatank will be too slow and insufficiently maneuverable to protect it from fixed defenses.

A megaplane is infeasible due to the size and weight of the powerplant

A megablimp dies like a megatank

A megaship is fine, but beam rifles cannot be fired at arcs.

Inland fixed defenses are now absurdly strong; force fields can only be breached by other megaweaponry, and ICBMs can be defeated by ground-based mega-ABM lasers - fallout is rendered moot by permanent force domes over sensitive areas.

A mecha proves to be the perfect solution - it can carry the powerplant; move through terrain that could stop or slow a megatank (mountains in particular); deliver precise strikes of tremendous power anywhere it wants; and dominate lesser, non-mega forces.
If someone mentioned it already, I apologize. If not, then what do you think? :smallsmile:

Kalbron
2009-07-14, 12:15 AM
@ Lurker:

True enough. I was more talking about the money that DARPA and the US Military has in general to throw around for R&D, rather than their ideas specifically. The engineers and scientists will primarily be civilian of course, but without the military's investment... well... I can't see a huge number of companies in the world willing to expend millions of dollars on something that isn't 90%+ likely to be a bread winner. A military force might if it gives them enough of an edge.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-14, 01:02 AM
...largely tagging this for later consumption.

Also: has anyone considered the powerful-and-bulky powerplant angle?
Put simply, Future Society develop a powerplant that produces huge amounts of energy but cannot be miniaturized. This powerplant can be used to fuel all kinds of megatech - force shields, lightsabers, beam rifles - but cannot be moved about by anything smaller than our 20' robot.

A megatank will be too slow and insufficiently maneuverable to protect it from fixed defenses.

A megaplane is infeasible due to the size and weight of the powerplant

A megablimp dies like a megatank

A megaship is fine, but beam rifles cannot be fired at arcs.

Inland fixed defenses are now absurdly strong; force fields can only be breached by other megaweaponry, and ICBMs can be defeated by ground-based mega-ABM lasers - fallout is rendered moot by permanent force domes over sensitive areas.

A mecha proves to be the perfect solution - it can carry the powerplant; move through terrain that could stop or slow a megatank (mountains in particular); deliver precise strikes of tremendous power anywhere it wants; and dominate lesser, non-mega forces.
If someone mentioned it already, I apologize. If not, then what do you think? :smallsmile:
The problem with your scenario also assumes that defenses can ever be made to be so perfect as to outpace offense. This is pretty much a joke to me. Invincible defenses are also silly in a military drama because you can't have good rousing story conflicts when one side doesn't have problems in that quarter.

Furthermore, if your weaponry is so good as to knock out ICBM's, mechs are just a joke. A mech that lugs around a giant reactor is really more of a target. And if you have invincible fortifications, moving your reactor around is kind of pointless. Just put them somewhere safe and plop shields over them and surround them with beam spam. At most, you'll have to move around supplies for the reactor, but that shouldn't require any highly specialized solutions.

So basically you have invincible static defense-in-depth technologies and you're trying to solve the problem of an obsolete offensive strategy with an equal amount of Code Geass level of absurdity. This is a massive and unnecessary contradiction.

Realistically, if you have immobile weapon emplacements, they can only fire so fast and only so often and hit so many things at a given time. If you have ten bowmen on a wall, you rush the wall with 30 men. You might beat the 30 men by making your wall better or by putting 20 men on your walls instead, but that becomes a matter of resources. Meaning, there is only so much beam spam you can reasonably afford. Most countries don't have bloated military budgets. Nor is putting sentries and walls everywhere generally considered a sane way of ensuring national security, even when you are rich powerful and technologically advanced.

And that's assuming the enemies you fight have a nation interested in industrial warfare. Large powerful groups who follow the same conventions generally reach a point where game theory dictates that they gain more from cooperation than from industrial-scale warfare. The fact of the matter is that excessive beam spam and barrier shields would just indicate that your country is gearing up for the wrong kind of war. If the tech makes industrial warfare entirely pointless, people aren't really going to beat those defenses by that method. Our world is pretty much a less extreme example of this because any nation that *can* mount an effective industrial-scale of war, like in WWII, is just liable to nuke you instead. It's not about gearing your entire economy to fight, it's about conflicts.

Furthermore, the reason we don't have laser guns has partially to do with plasma bloom. In an atmosphere, lasers create plasma. So it becomes a lot like shooting a beam of light into a prism. Your beam gets refracted. And while there are ways of circumventing this problem to make viable laser weapons, I can imagine such weapons still have definite limitations in terms of effective range and such. Things like weather would also influence the effectiveness of weapons. Weapons have limitations. If your war drama weapons doesn't, you're just setting up a boring and stale scenario that's disconnected from any meaningful human experience.

Basically, this setting ignores a lot of complexity and depth that a good war drama probably ought to call attention to.

My opinion would be to restrict mecha to something highly setting-specific, the details of which I haven't worked out. It might as well be highly fantastic and improbable anyway, since we're going for broke.

So it's about walking robots. Okay. A setting in which air power is unfeasible or too difficult to be a practical avenue of attack. So the sky is a constant storm. This is on a different world from ours naturally. If you like airships we can keep those in the setting, but they're big and expensive and are heavily limited by the weather. Some places or times may make travel altogether impossible.

The terrain probably ought to be rough. Roads aren't easy to make. Maybe it's a planet where the few roads that you do make quickly erode and fall derelict without constant maintenance. The few roads that do exist are limited to geologically "safe" areas. But roads that can reliably take you anywhere don't exist. Tunnels aren't easy to make for the same reason. So an image of a world with heavy seismic activity and driven dust storms on its surface come to mind. There are enough mountains and hills in this terrain that off-roading vehicles, while useful, are limited. Short-range air vehicles are possible, but aren't suitable for long outings and are vulnerable to sudden inclements shifts.

Civilization then is limited to basins and geologically sound areas. Either that or people need to live in the airformentioned airships that can weather the storms due to some highly expensive, specialized and space-consuming technology. You also need to cook up a reason as to why anybody would ever want to live in such a hellhole, but that's simple.

And there you go. Mechs are feasible because they're the only ones that can traverse rough terrain and keep a profile low to the ground. Air power is unreliable for long campaigns and ground cars are useful but limited.

Of course, you can take a page out of Evangelion and Eureka Seven and make your mechs magical bits of blackbox biology that you can't really change from a humanoid template.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-07-14, 01:27 AM
Basically, this setting ignores a lot of complexity and depth that a good war drama probably ought to call attention to.I'd say you were jumping to conclusions here, but perhaps I just wasn't clear enough.

First of all, it isn't a "perfect defense" - it's just good enough to render all previous art obsolete. Though I didn't say it explicitly, I at least implied that you would need megaweaponry to defeat megadefenses. Missiles are no good because you can't mount a powerplant on it that could stop the ABM before you got within "bubble busting" range; but if you can get a beam rifle close enough to the force field, it can "pop" (disrupt) the field and do some real damage. A precise application of force can overcome a general defense.

Secondly, mecha are required if you want to have a war - you need an offense. Invincible bases sitting around the world would provoke a war of espionage, not mecha; but if the bases are permeable to precisely applied force, you have a war.

Now, your setting-specific route is all well and good, but aren't we looking for this:

What kind of political, technological, military, and economic changes would modern day earth need in order to convert all major land military conflicts from its current state into one dominated by...

1) Large (20+ feet in height), human-piloted, and preferably bipedal and humanoid vehicles

2) Melee combat, preferably similar to melee combat as it was conducted in Europe, the North African coast, and the Middle East, ca. 500 BCE - 300 AD

As for issues of plasma bloom - nothing a little gravitic bottling (http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20020116.html) can't fix. Or we convert the "laser beams" into "plasma cannons" as you like. In any case, they're intended to be very short ranged weapons to make melee combat a viable option; a mega-sword can deliver power much more efficiently than lobbing plasma through the air at someone.

LurkerInPlayground
2009-07-14, 01:40 AM
I'd say you were jumping to conclusions here, but perhaps I just wasn't clear enough.

First of all, it isn't a "perfect defense" - it's just good enough to render all previous art obsolete. Though I didn't say it explicitly, I at least implied that you would need megaweaponry to defeat megadefenses. Missiles are no good because you can't mount a powerplant on it that could stop the ABM before you got within "bubble busting" range; but if you can get a beam rifle close enough to the force field, it can "pop" (disrupt) the field and do some real damage. A precise application of force can overcome a general defense.

Secondly, mecha are required if you want to have a war - you need an offense. Invincible bases sitting around the world would provoke a war of espionage, not mecha; but if the bases are permeable to precisely applied force, you have a war.
Oh well, as long as I'm making an ass of myself.

Anyway, that's not really anything but a whole lot of drapery for the setting. It still doesn't justify your mech nearly as well as you said it does.

And I'm still stumped as to why lugging around a reactor is a good idea for people in your universe or solves any story-related problem. A tank is easy to blow up true. But it's low the ground and something you'd spend a lot of effort protecting if carries something important.

A mech that has a higher profile doesn't get anymore useful because you've strapped a giant piece of delicate technology on it.

In your setting it seems more reasonable to lug the reactor and assemble it on-site at a fortified field base. Stick it on an airfield or whatever passes for your ammo dump and protect it with conventional forces as best as possible. You also have forcefields. So yeah.

If we can split the one big generator into a number of smaller but more compact generators, so much the better. We dump power to the batteries and ship them around as needed.

Basically I fail to see how the reactor thing does anything that every other Gundam show has already done. People in Code Geass just carried batteries around with their logistical support.


As for issues of plasma bloom - nothing a little gravitic bottling (http://www.schlockmercenary.com/d/20020116.html) can't fix. Or we convert the "laser beams" into "plasma cannons" as you like. In any case, they're intended to be very short ranged weapons to make melee combat a viable option; a mega-sword can deliver power much more efficiently than lobbing plasma through the air at someone.
I was trying to underscore the problems of weapon emplacements but that seems to hardly have been necessary. Tangentially, plasma would have limited ranges because it's still an amorphous mass you have to push through the atmosphere.

Oracle_Hunter
2009-07-14, 02:07 AM
And I'm still stumped as to why lugging around a reactor is a good idea for people in your universe or solves any story-related problem. A tank is easy to blow up true. But it's low the ground and something you'd spend a lot of effort protecting if carries something important.

A mech that has a higher profile doesn't get anymore useful because you've strapped a giant piece of delicate technology on it.

In your setting it seems more reasonable to lug the reactor and assemble it on-site at a fortified field base. Stick it on an airfield or whatever passes for your ammo dump and protect it with conventional forces as best as possible. You also have forcefields. So yeah.

Basically I fail to see how the reactor thing does anything that every other Gundam show has already done. People in Code Geass just carried batteries around with their logistical support.
I'll admit I was cribbing off of Gundam, but I think this is one of the better ways to make giant mecha necessary.

First, as I said, a tank that could carry around the powerplant would have to be huge - it is no longer going to be useful in urban combat, and it sure as hell is going to have trouble doing things like fording rivers or moving through mountain passes. The benefit of a mecha here is increased mobility - a 20' tall mecha can step through a river, and literally climb mountains if necessary. I'm positing that "hover" technology is either impossible or infeasible here, naturally.

Secondly, you can't attack a fixed position with another fixed position. Well, you can, but you aren't going to get anywhere with it; eventually someone or something has to actually take over the facility - and that is going to require a mobile unit that can both dish out and defend against mega-damage attacks.

Remember - I specified that the powerplant cannot be carried by anything smaller than a 20' bipedal mecha, and that it cannot be used tactically when airborne (or space-borne, for that matter). Yes, this is a massive Black Box (http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BlackBox) fix, but I feel a rather more elegant one than positing an entire planet that makes 20' mecha combat the only way to fight. Here, at least, I'm only positing a single technology, with certain rules that make mecha combat highly convenient, though not the only option.

Oslecamo
2009-07-14, 04:37 AM
First, as I said, a tank that could carry around the powerplant would have to be huge - it is no longer going to be useful in urban combat, and it sure as hell is going to have trouble doing things like fording rivers or moving through mountain passes. The benefit of a mecha here is increased mobility - a 20' tall mecha can step through a river, and literally climb mountains if necessary. I'm positing that "hover" technology is either impossible or infeasible here, naturally.


I have an even better idea.

War engineer teams.

I build a megatank, greatly reducing my costs since I don't need to build giant arms or heads or complex mechanisms.

With a fraction of those costs, I get a small army of engineers who quickly can build bridges and passages as needed.


Invest the rest of the resources in something else usefull.

I think an amphibious tank would also be a possibility in this seting, and hey, if the forcefields are so powerfull, it can probably blast his way trough any mountains or other obstacles that may present themselves.

Kalbron
2009-07-14, 04:53 AM
The thing is though, you'd still run into a big issue. That being that since tanks could no longer fill their primary role as moving heavy ordinance aiding infantry... they would be adapted.

That 20' mecha? For the same amount of energy it's using to move around like a slow, heavy, turtle, said tank can have the power to haul around enough ordinance to kill any such mecha at range and be nigh invunrable compared to the defences you'd have on the mecha. I'm talking Baneblades (http://wh40k.lexicanum.com/wiki/Baneblade) here.

Ravens_cry
2009-07-14, 05:01 AM
Besides, if the terrain absolutely demands walker technology you don't want a biped. Something like this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b1h3vcLybfA) would probably be better.

warty goblin
2009-07-14, 10:56 AM
OK, if your enemy is using fortifications that can only be breached with the power yeild of a massive reactor, the really smart thing to do it is to simply ignore those facilities. Since the reactors are so large and awkward, it seems unfeasible to use them to shield roadways, railways and so forth. Once you blow them up with conventional, easily affordable means, whatever is protected by the shields is more or less screwed anyway. The best part is that since beam weapons don't meaningfully arc, you can operate to within about five miles of the enemy facility with impunity. The exact distance is obviously dependant on terrain.

The second solution is the Really Humongous Artillery Gun - RHAD- which mounts said generator. I'm talking a really, really large gun, something on the order of this (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schwerer_Gustav). Its projectiles are rocket guided beam cannons fired from a battery attached to the projectile*. With a range of about 40 kilometers, it is completely and utterly safe from any beam weapons in fixed fortifications.


*Alternatively, if feasible, you want use a shell that only fires the beam cannon very briefly and just in time to penetrate the enemy's shield, allowing the shell itself to pass through. Then you rely on the bit where you are hitting the target with a seven ton armor piercing shell traveling 800 meters per second and filled with high explosive to do the damage.

The third solution is air power. Yes I know the generator is supposed to be too heavy to mount on an aircraft, but this is frankly absurd to the extreme. Remember, we have planes right now that can move an M1 Abrams tank, which weighs in at somewhere north of sixty tons. If the generator weighed more than that, it would simply be completely inpractical to mount it on any sort of walking platform due to pressure. Mount generator, use it's superior power generation for better engines, and one or two whacking great beam cannon turrets on the underbelly, and you are good to go.

Oslecamo
2009-07-14, 12:16 PM
If the generator weighed more than that, it would simply be completely inpractical to mount it on any sort of walking platform due to pressure. Mount generator, use it's superior power generation for better engines, and one or two whacking great beam cannon turrets on the underbelly, and you are good to go.


That's it! Screw mechas, let's design humongous airships!

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-14, 12:33 PM
That's it! Screw mechas, let's design humongous airships!Almost as awesome!

Oslecamo
2009-07-14, 12:49 PM
Almost as awesome!

And transforming airship-mechas are the pinnacle of awesomess! Altough I still wonder why the hell anyone would build one besides boredom and ecxess of available resources.:smalltongue:

Nerd-o-rama
2009-07-14, 12:50 PM
And transforming airship-mechas are the pinnacle of awesomess! Altough I still wonder why the hell anyone would build one besides boredom and ecxess of available resources.:smalltongue:So you can punch the enemy battleship with an aircraft carrier. Duh.

chiasaur11
2009-07-14, 01:21 PM
And transforming airship-mechas are the pinnacle of awesomess! Altough I still wonder why the hell anyone would build one besides boredom and ecxess of available resources.:smalltongue:

Herzwog Zwei obsession?