About accuracy, realism, and a different game


This post is not about GSB.

Now, I’ve read some posts from people I tend to agree with and I’d like to clarify some subjects. I’ll number them so you can discuss any sigle point:

1 - In front of an automated targeting system, the target’s linear speed has little effect on the chance of hitting it*. It’s the target’s ability of quickly changing its speed or direction, which, in a 3d universe, is identical to its acceleration.

2 - Most of that acceleration’s effect is during the flight time of the projectile. A laser’s “flight time” is, essentially, zero.

3 - The little rest of that acceleration’s effect is in the turret turning speed and reaction to it’s target’s movement. However, to surpass even a modern turret’s turning time and acceleration you’d have to be closer than ten meters from it, or stupidly “fast” and erratic.

4 - Guided missiles don’t miss. The target can either be faster, throw crap in front of it or shoot it down.

5 - So, when discussing hit chance algorithms in a space battle and using real physics as a point, take into account most weapons used in space would never miss.

*: Even a current electronic “shoot direction” system, or however you translate “dirección de tiro”, simply can’t miss a non varying movement object, whatever speed it has. A modern tank can hit a tennis ball thrown in the air, almost a km away, and that’s a shoot that has to take into account a parabolic flying item, with wind, gravity, temperature of the projectile, temperature of the powder, movement of the tank, etc…


First, the snipped bits are incorrect, assuming modern, real world. Guided missiles miss; your tank example is hopelessly wrong. But that’s irrelevant. You’re posting about Space Battles, and that’s futuristic fantasy/Science Fiction.

There are various problems with your “Never Miss”.

The biggest one is you’re assuming perfect knowledge. In order to perfectly aim at your target, you’ve got to know the target’s exact position, velocity, and acceleration. Modern/Real World sensors can’t do this; the accuracy of your Sci-Fi radar equivalent is whatever you decide it to be, but if you assume anything less than perfection, your aiming could be off. And it has to be perfect for all assumed enemy missiles, from big, slow rockets, to stealthed sub-micron relativistic anti-matter smart-pebbles (whatever they might be; whatever you want to invent).

Next, those “Laws of Physics” included the speed of light. If your target’s a couple of light-seconds away, it’s hard to hit with even a laser.

Then, (Physics again) there’s just sheer speed. A fast target (relative to you; it might be a stationary target when you’re fast) at any distance might be simply impossible to hit with your missiles unless your missiles have infinite acceleration and/or fuel.

So, when discussing hit chance algorithms in a space battle and using real physics as a point, take into account most weapons used in space could miss in many cases.


Before starting. You’re right, I should have included the clause of “real physics applied to the situation in the game”, to avoid speaking about a situation not even remotely close.

I don’t know of what meaning of “miss” you’re using, but I’d like to know which modern missile is capable of missing a 200 meter long immobile object, less than 10km away.

Taking into account a modern missile can shoot down a satellite with the size of a bus, going at a speed of over 25.000km/h and 250km up in space.

They are building sized objects, like 10km away. In clear space. The technology to see each other is called “window”.

Remember, this is not Niven’s space, with fights over distances measured in light hours.

Unless it doesn’t move. But still, if it was a couple light-seconds away, how would fighters reach them?

That also happens in earth, a missile obviously can’t reach a faster moving target. That why we usually make the missiles faster than the targets. Which is quite easy, taking into account a missile’s quite reduced expected utilities; i.e.: destroy on contact.

Ok, in a theoretical space battle in space that happens thousands of km farther than anything in this game, up to the point of being a more realistic space battle like, again, in a Larry Niven’s novel, anything can miss, as even reaching the target can take several years.

In the SF paradigm used by this game, which implies ideas like the ships actually seeing each other and moving at non relativistic speeds, weapons can’t miss. Just as a modern guided weapon, doesn’t miss a “close” target.

And once again, I’m just saying that discussing real physics, like how should the chance to miss be related to the target’s speed, makes little sense.


Hi guys,

Interesting thread.

Just a brief comment on 4.; there’s another way of not being hit by a guided projectile, never being picked up by its guidance system. As far as true ‘real physics’ game goes I suspect naval and especially submarine warfare might be a better analogy than air warfare (Harpoon ANW in space, anybody?) Somebody might get lucky with countermeasures but otherwise whoever is detected first gets blammoed by the relativistic railgun shell (or whatever) with no idea it was on its way until way too late.


space is very very dark.

submarines in space just doesn’t work… if crewed, your spaceship is a massively hot blob in space. trivial to spot - and thousands of times worse if you ever dare maneuver :slight_smile:

projectrho.com/rocket/rocket … #nostealth


It’s only a massively hot blob if you take no precautions to avoid it being one… in the same way submarines take precautions to avoid being noisy. As to manouevreing; that would depend on the nature of the propulsion system. Most likely candidates would emit something trackable but that might well highly directional, indeed the engines would likely be extremely inefficient were that not the case. You might need to be within a very slim cone of space around the principal axis of thrust to detect the target.

That article makes far too many assumptions about the technology on the side of the target. Oddly, he seems quite happy to accept that that on the side of the sensors might improve!


I love it when people discredit their own ideas through overstating. I bet you can prove this hilarious statement, right? :smiley: PS; simply stating modern armoured engagement ranges are in the several kilometers would have been just as impressive but far less fictional. First-shot hit at 3km is impressive; ‘hit a throwing tennis ball lol’ is just laughable.

A sensor system within it’s resolution limits can be aware of the exact position of a target, but physical constraints mean ‘perfect accuracy’ is totally absurd. Even a laser is a mechanism that needs to be laid (ie, moved, then stopped, then tracked). This is non-trivial and the more massive the weapon/turret the more difficult it is to physically move the weapon without introducing unwanted motion. Guns (yes, even space guns) will always have a degree of inaccuracy or spread, and magic sensors won’t ever change that. Within the scope of a silly game, crossing speed is a fair way to divide weapon effectiveness between fast and slow targets, especially when the AI never engages in actual evasive turns (ie fighters totally ignore incoming missiles in GSB etc).

The English phrase is ‘fire control’. Fire control doesn’t make a weapon more accurate; it improves the information used to lay the weapon. If it’s inaccurate at the range to the target, it will still miss sometimes, regardless of how magical your sensors are, even if it’s pointed DIRECTLY at the target, just like real guns. It’s more meaningful to talk about a weapon’s spread at xyz range than say it can hit anything it’s associated sensors and fire control can detect - which is certainly an area where lasers/particle beams will outclass slug-throwers.


I don’t really have an opinion on the overall accuracy question, but this point doesn’t ring right to me (if we’re talking about real-world physics):

The thing is, there’s not really any way to avoid getting hot if you’re going to actually do anything even remotely energetic in space. The second law of thermodynamics doesn’t have any exceptions.

If you use energy to accomplish any task (such as moving your ship, maintaining a breathable atmosphere, charging weapons, etc), you will heat up. Radiating the heat into space is the only way to cool down since there is no other matter to conduct the heat away from you in a vacuum. For a relatively short time period you can store the heat in a heat sink, but eventually you’ll need to start radiating or your ship will melt.

The board game Attack Vector Tactical has interesting heat mechanics, among many other real-physics inspired rules. Those battles tend to take at most a few game-hours because if they go any longer the ships will all overheat.

What hasn’t been discussed at all in this thread is the issue of electronic warfare, with ECM and ECCM battling against each other. If you assume there’s a vigorous electronic struggle going on it is a lot easier to accept that the fire control on a highly sophisticated warship could miss the broad side of a barn (it probably saw a dozen barns, each 1km apart and picked the wrong one).


You can either talk about real life, or real space battles, or you can talk about GSB. Because (and excuse me if this implies you’re an idiot) only an idiot would think GSB is absolutely anything like a real life space battle would be. GSB is a silly game. A wonderful, pretty, unrealistic, glorious silly game.

Miss: To fail to hit the target

The Argentinians fired twenty-some Exocets at the British fleet, and hit with three. This at a time of limited point-defence capability. The main Air-Defence guided missile in the British fleet couldn’t hit brave Argentinian pilots who knew what they were doing and flew low enough (as they did, for the Argentinians had the same missile, and many brave pilots).

On a rather silly British TV show, I saw the British army, using the Tank which holds the record for the longest kill in Tank-Tank kill in Land Warfare, fail to hit a stationary safe at less than a hundred metres. They hit it with the second.


there’s a lot of maths in there - all using current sensor technology. it also shoots down the normal (and yes - this argument has gone around a lot of times on usenet) arguments for people who want stealth spaceships.

true - stealth tech may improve… but the only real way to do it is by postulating magic-tech™ like the traveller black-globe shield. (which had the unfortunate effect of frying anything that turned it on for very long).

but this is a game. we’re using planetary toasters at ranges that would be laughable in current land-armour engagements, let alone current navel engagements. i like to think of the ships/weapons as comparable to those in W40k … massive, gigantic slow tracking monstrosities which’re loaded and aimed by hundreds of conscripts. small wonder they reload slowly and miss a lot :slight_smile: [epic40k.co.uk/bfgmag/warprift22.pdf page 30]


You don’t have to. You could actively cool the outer hull to background radiation levels and discharge the heat generated both by normal operations an as a byproduct of the active cooling along a very narrow beam back. Anyone not along that narrow beam will never see your ship, at least as a result of your heat emanations.

Although… with sufficiently sensitive sensors they could see scatter off of that beam from the extremely limited but still present interstellar matter.


Accuracy? Realism? THIS. IS. GRATUITOUS.

kicks thread into a black hole


Once again, the point of the thread was that arguing by the aplication of real life physics makes no sense because in the game’s situation real life physics wouldn’t give the argued result (missing stationary targets 10km away in clear space).

Nice strawman. Indeed, only an idiot would think GSB represents a real battle.

Which has nothing to do with the discussion of whether speed is bad for aim or whether guided missiles miss close stationary targets in the absence of countermeasures, for example.

…And we all know computers haven’t evolved at all in the last 25 years.

I stand by my, quite more current, example of shooting down a satellite.

A Challenger 2 missing a shot at 100m? That’s interesting. I’ll investigate the conditions at home (there are some kinds of searches I’d rather not do at work).


Please read the threads before replying.

This thread is about why discussing game mechanics by invoking real physics makes no sense; not just because it’s a game, but also because if we did apply it, the results wouldn’t be even close to the desired ones.


Very little in this thread is clear on what it’s actually about. I’ve read and re-read the topic and replies, and for the life of me I can’t figure out what point is in fact being made or argued for/against.

It appears to be a collection of statements thrown out in the forum with no conclusion or purpose, made more confusing by the fact that people are trying to mix idle speculation and assumption with scientific theory.

Can I ask (openly to any participant in this thread) what you’re actually getting at?


From my PoV, this thread essentially has:

  • An interesting discussion between me and Slow Dog, about modern precision of guided weapons, that has forced me to review and further research some conceptions I had.
  • A discussion I’m not following too much about spaceship thermodinamics and remote detection, with some interesting ideas about conspicuous heat ejection.
  • Various posts from people who think we’re arguing about the physical inaccuracy of a game.


Thanks for clarifying, that’d be why I was confused, there are three overlapping discussions, one of which isn’t even relevant :stuck_out_tongue:


Maybe we need an off-topic forum, then, since this thread doesn’t really have anything to do with GSB. :-p


Interesting discussion. You might find this website to be tangentially related.


points back to page-1, post-5:slight_smile: