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Technological Capabilities of the 'Verse
Ironwatsas
I'd like to hammer out the overall capability of what races in our imagining of the PDS'verse are capable of building and cooking up.

Overall, I'd like to keep it somewhat on the hard end of the mohs scale of sci-fi hardness, but allowances will be made for things which the Homeworld Universe canonically has, or things which are sufficiently reasonable and/or cool enough that it wouldn't be weird to have.

The biggest difference from real life is the existence of Hyperspace Technology. This is what allows Interstellar travel and is the enabling factor for the style of warfare in the Homeworld/PDS verse. I.E. why we can run a naval-sim in space with the level of technology and physics we have. It allows races with even modest technology (things which we here on Earth could come up with with a few decades of research) access to interstellar trade. Because of this, most of the races of the galaxy are at a level of relative technological parity, with the exceptions of the Bentusi, T-MAT, and Progenitors (who all had a head start on matters and have for the most part hoarded their discoveries).

Hyperspace works, in short, by creating a 'box' of real-space containing the ship, and then sending the 'box' flying about on a quantum wavefront through another dimension where conventional distance and speed limitations are nonsensical. Reality works different in hyperspace, and requires a different series of branches of physics and mathematics to understand, circumventing limitations of the material universe. Hyperspace itself cannot be directly observed: spaceships cannot scan outside the "box" of real-space and "see" just what is in hyperspace. Attempting to launch a probe out of the box results in the probe disappearing forever. There are implications that, whatever is in hyperspace, it's best that it stays there. Beyond that, Hyperspace technology is developed to a point where it is more or less completely safe unless you go flying into a gravity well or something.

Artificial Gravity also exists, both in the form of spherically projected gravity wells used as hyperspace inhibitors and to trap small craft, and as ship-mounted systems to provide a sense of orientation for their crews. They are technologically feasible because they are based on the same technology used for Hyperspace Drives and Powerplants. Gravity on large starships is generated by superconducting plates which induce a quantum 'flow' in the direction of the designer's choice, simulating the accelleration due to natural gravity within their influence (two sets of plates are needed to create 'end points' for the gravity field, I.E. in the floor and ceiling). Artificial Grav systems require both a functioning Hyperdrive and a large amount of power to run though, so only large ships can use them, and even then, the Gravity levels are much lower than on most planets. Small craft like fighters typically have neither the need nor the carrying capacity for gravity systems. Gravatic propulsion systems are also available, but these are extremely advanced and only really available to the most advanced races like the Bentusi.

Teleporters and Transporters do not exist. No race, with the inclusion of the progenitors have such systems in the generally understood sense. The closest things being the systems used for resource transfer (canonically existing in the Homeworld lore) which can send material from place to place, but it all comes out as a stream of undifferentiated molecules, and is impractical outside of specialized applications. The Progenitors do have the ability to construct extremely small hyperspace gates, which is how small ships like Keepers can spit out large numbers of attack drones: they have an internal hyperspace gate which brings the drones in from a storage facility and deploys them to battle. However, these are too dangerous to use for transporting unshielded organics.

Time Travel also does not exist, with the exception of exceptionally rare (I.E. space captain's tall tales rare) circumstances involving hyperspace anomalies, or ships operating at high relativistic speeds experiencing time dilation. Hyperspace itself, due to it's extra-dimensional qualities, does not cause time dilation, unless wierd stuff happens. It should be noted, that even these anomalies can only go forward in time.

Psychic Powers exist, but are exceedingly rare. Emperor Riesstiu canonically had them, but only through extensive bio-modification enhancing his already unnatural abilities. Riesstiu's ability to psychically assault Karan S'jet also had to do with the fact that he was bio-linked to his mothership, which functioned as a conduit of power. Aside from him, psychic power users are very, very rare, but are known to exist. Their powers are typically caused, again, by anomalies resulting from Hyperspace Physics manifesting in unusual ways.

Antimatter Technology exists, and is a well known science. However, it isn't widely used due to the inherent dangers and difficulties in generating, storing, and controlling it. Most energy generation comes from Nuclear Fusion, or other forms of mass-to-energy conversion. Antimatter is created within hyperspace drives during the jump process, which consumes reactant mass (I.E. the RUs used when a hyperspace command is given) to generate energy needed to open a hyperspace window, but is sufficiently contained in this context and lasts a short while. Industrial-levels of manufacture are done in colossal particle accelerators manufactured in deep space, with storage achieved by magnetic traps. Transporting and storing raw antimatter is extremely highly regulated by galactic laws, and it is generally kept far away from any major population centers. Use as weapons is limited to antimatter catalyzation of conventional nuclear weapons, due both to Antimatter's expense to manufacture and store, and the inherent fail-deadlyness of the systems used to control it.

Nanotechnology exists and is near ubiquitous. It is commonly used across a broad spectrum of consumer and military activities, but its capabilities have limits (both inherent and artificially imposed). Nanobots are generally very fragile and sensitive to temperature changes and electromagnetism due to their tiny size. Grey-goo style scenarios are a near impossibility, since they take a while to reach critical mass, and a simple EMP can wipe it out. Most Nanites are hardcoded to a simple task (I.E. Glue-bots, Repair, Taking a specific shape, etc.) so their use as weapons is limited. Growing large masses from scratch is entirely possible but generally takes much, much longer than traditional machining processes, and it takes a large amount of computer power to control. Typically, most manufacturing uses a combination of Phased Disassembler Arrays, Nano-construction, and conventional design and construction processes. The main military uses of Nanites are as repair systems, electronic warfare enhancement, and as one of several mechanisms used to counter the Beast Virus. The Beast itself functions similarly to nanobots, but it's techno-organic component is functionally, something altogether more arcane.

Relativistic Weapons are possible and do exist, in the form of planet-killing kinetic kill vehicles. They are treated as the space equivalent of ICBMs. However, the ubiquity of hyperspace technology, and the massive amount of power and infrastructure required to wield them, plus the hard limitation of the speed of light (compared to hyperdrive-using spaceships) means they are rarely employed. They are difficult to stop once fired, with the only real defense being a large-scale planetary shield (which is itself a somewhat impractical option for all but the most highly developed worlds), but in a real war scenario they would be the first target for a deep-striking enemy fleet. Their general unwieldiness means they're limited to huge accelerators which can only reliably hit large, predictable targets like planets. Other weapons like Atmosphere Deprivation Missiles and Siege Cannons can be used for similar effect.

That said, Complete Planetary Destruction (I.E. blowing en entire planet to gravel, death star style) is effectively impossible. No race in the PDS'verse has the capability to do that. Dehabitating a planet or at most blowing up a large asteroid is doable, but planets are just too big and durable to be easily exploded. The closest thing to that is something like complete planetary strip-mining (this is the T-MAT's Modus Operandi), taking off layers of the world like a giant onion over a very long period of time.

I think most of this has been generally established up to this point. Are there any other sci-fi sort of tropes we need to address here?
 
Sun Tzu
What about detection and stealth? Canon HW has stealth abilities and quite limited range for passive sensors. As far as I know stealth just does not exist in space and the real range for sensors even in today's state of science is extremely large, due to the heat signature of any vessel. I would imagine that in certain places like dust or gas clouds detection abilities could be impeded but in standard space I do not know how to justify the short-sighted sensors.
Along the same lines I wonder if it would be possible to have all ships detected but identified only at a certain range. This could change the pre-engagement phase of the game with deployment of decoy ships that mimic the signature of actual warships.
 
Ironwatsas
Good point, I almost didn't think of that.

Canonically we have cloaking generators, which presumably use some kind of EM wavelength redirection hocus pocus that works on a wavelength spectrum that covers most radio, infrared, and visual sensors. Any other 'stealth' beyond that would consist of actively jamming the enemy's sensors or launching decoys, or hiding in a dense thicket of dust/asteroids/junk that will confuse the enemy's sensors. Heat signatures and artificial objects can be detected, and their relative position identified, but it doesn't automatically identify what is there.

If you think about it... in Homeworld 1 you could see basically where enemy ships were (the red dots), but unless you wanted to see exact locations of units and their specific numbers, you either needed to build a sensors array or get your ship within close range scan range. We need to implement something like that again, if it's possible in the remastered engine.

Detection systems range from radar, lidar, Gravitic Anomaly Detection (checks for "mass displacement" of something and measures it against known weights of enemy ships), Hyperspace Anomaly detection, Infrared/X-Ray/Gamma ray detection, and general Heat Output. The main limiting factor for sensors is "Light Lag", since most of them use some form of electromagnetic radiation to scan in their radius. The ability to transmit this information between platforms faster than light exists (Known as "Phased Telemetry". It's in the Cataclysm manual!), but it basically requires specialized equipment on both ends, and has bandwidth limitations.

For detection, you already have relatively bog-standard probes (which are basically just cheap, disposable Radar/Lidar detectors), proximity sensors (which add GAD/ECCM capability and are meant for counteracting the negative effects of cloaking/jamming/dust clouds/nebulas), long-range phased array sensors (HW1's sensors arrays) which are attuned to theatre-wide tracking of any and all differentiable objects, and hyperspace sensors, which can pick up the quantum by-products of hyperdrives.

So to sum up: Stealth in open space is impossible without a Cloaking Device. Cloaking Devices somehow scramble or nullify a ship's signature across the Electromagnetic Spectrum. Cloaks are able to be detected via Gravitic Anomaly Detection (which is more or less how proximity sensors work). That's actually a good reason why most combat takes place in areas with lots of space dust/asteroids/mass; one side or the other is actively trying to avoid detection.
 
carl

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That said, Complete Planetary Destruction (I.E. blowing en entire planet to gravel, death star style) is effectively impossible. No race in the PDS'verse has the capability to do that. Dehabitating a planet or at most blowing up a large asteroid is doable, but planets are just too big and durable to be easily exploded. The closest thing to that is something like complete planetary strip-mining (this is the T-MAT's Modus Operandi), taking off layers of the world like a giant onion over a very long period of time.


I will point out that the history PDF released after HW2 states that makaan stripped entire worlds bare on his rampage so unless you decide he had T-MAT help they're gonna need an upgrade.

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As far as I know stealth just does not exist in space and the real range for sensors even in today's state of science is extremely large, due to the heat signature of any vessel.


Be careful who you believe on this point. Here's a quick reply of mine to this point culled from elsewhere:

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Be aware many sources, (including atomic rockets), that claim to show a no stealth in space sensor system are just plain wrong. The resolution is simply too low. One example i saw, (not the atomic rocket's one, been a while since i mathed that one out), had a resolution that resulted in a single pixel at the distance between here and Jupiter scanning an area several times that occupied by Jupiter plus all of it's moon's. Low resolution lead's to two issues. First quite simply if the area scanned by a single pixel grow's large enough low level fluctuations in the background energy, (particularly when looking at a planet), render the desired target invisible, normal background fluctuations are greater than the effect of a ship or it's drive. The second issue is that if the energy signature is small enough relative to the area scanned by a single pixel, that it produces no effect upon to pixel it strike's. You can see the same effect with really low resolution photo's. Eventually no matter how much you edit and enhance and interpolate the picture with photo editing software the base image is too low resolution for background details below a certain size to be visible in any way. Certainly however it's true you can't hide your IR signature and with enough resolution you can absolutely pick out the target's, but the scanner area could easily be large enough as to be impractical, particularly from the Po V of remote sensors and the like.
 
Ironwatsas

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I will point out that the history PDF released after HW2 states that makaan stripped entire worlds bare on his rampage so unless you decide he had T-MAT help they're gonna need an upgrade.


We know for a fact that the T-MAT were somehow involved, based on the Planet Killers at the end of the HW2 campaign. On that front, my instinct is to say that the Planet Killers were heavily Demilitarized T-MAT motherships given to Makaan as part of a contingency plan. The T-MAT are so incredibly alien, both technologically and psychologically, that whatever their intentions are are unknown and unknowable. Anything is possible with them.

As for planetary strip-mining: That's different then a death-star super-laser. That takes time and generally doesn't result in complete planetary obliteration overnight. It also requires a huge amount of manpower, machinery, and logistics. The Vaygr as of the invasion era were a very fast moving force in a blitzkrieg style of warfare. They relied on Makaan jumping them around with the Third Core to be able to outmaneuver the Hiigarans, Taiidans, Etc, to achieve the success that they did. I'd need to read over the documents to which you're referring to reconcile any discrepancies though.

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Be careful who you believe on this point. Here's a quick reply of mine to this point culled from elsewhere:


That may be so, however the technological capabilites between 21st century Earth and ??th century Hiigara are significant. I wouldn't say there's no stealth in space (in our imagining of things). According to Homeworld Canon, there is. However, it comes down to some active means of jamming or avoiding the enemy's sensor technologies, such as Cloaking, Electronic Countermeasures, Decoys, Technological Quirks in the searching party's Equipment, or what TVtropes refers to as "Geo Effects".
 
carl

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As for planetary strip-mining: That's different then a death-star super-laser. That takes time and generally doesn't result in complete planetary obliteration overnight. It also requires a huge amount of manpower, machinery, and logistics. The Vaygr as of the invasion era were a very fast moving force in a blitzkrieg style of warfare. They relied on Makaan jumping them around with the Third Core to be able to outmaneuver the Hiigarans, Taiidans, Etc, to achieve the success that they did. I'd need to read over the documents to which you're referring to reconcile any discrepancies though.


There's nothing to reconcile if you want to take that stance, your going to have to flat out ignore.

Relevant sections:

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Under Makaan, the Vaygr were
moving with unheard of strength,
speed, and numbers. Planets fell
before his forces and were stripped
of every available resource and left
barren.


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Like a wave of locusts, the forces of Makaan swept
unstoppably forward, seemingly without any goal but the
destruction of all that lay before them [Fig 1.18]. It was only
by piecing together the reports of various individuals who
had escaped their attacks that the matter finally became
clear.


The part about only getting reports from escapees of the attacks, (as apposed to survivors after the vaygr have moved on), is particularly telling as it implies they're either enslaving and carting everyone off, or they aren't leaving any survivors. Either way there's no one making it out after the attacks.

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That may be so, however the technological capabilites between 21st century Earth and ??th century Hiigara are significant. I wouldn't say there's no stealth in space (in our imagining of things). According to Homeworld Canon, there is. However, it comes down to some active means of jamming or avoiding the enemy's sensor technologies, such as Cloaking, Electronic Countermeasures, Decoys, Technological Quirks in the searching party's Equipment, or what TVtropes refers to as "Geo Effects".


This is all fair enough, even what i said wouldn't really come into play at tactical scales, (scanning a whole solar system yes, but not out to reasonable weapon ranges), but i felt it had to be mentioned. That said don't oversell the tech advantage, the principles modern IR sensors work on and the scales the elements are at allready puts a finite physics hard cap on ow much more compact we can make them, and a similar point applies to optics aspects.

I actually do have a some info on the latter but it's by another net guy and too technical for me. Here it is in case you can decipher it, (the setting under discussion for ship sizes is the Honor Harrington verse, a superdreadnaught is 1500m length, a destroyer is 350m):

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I a quick calculation for angular resolution, and visible light or infrared, it works out to about 5-15 m per light minute of distance (the longer the wavelength, i.e. deeper into the infrared, and thus more being emitted, the bigger the number), assuming the entire length of a superdreadnaught as the diameter of a giant, circular lens. With the length of a destroyer, that goes up to 30-40 m. If you go with the assumption that the effective diameter of the lens, after any [[Applied Phlebotinum]](gravity lens, etc.), is even less than that, it gets even worse. What those numbers mean is that beyond one light-minute (Earth to Sun is 8.31), anything smaller than that number appears as a "point source", which means it would be distinguishable from a distant star, etc. in intensity only. Even the best theoretical camera couldn't pick out detail. Looking up the numbers means gives an end-on size of 40-50 m square for a destroyer or similar, and about 200 m square for a superdreadnaught. We take 10 m angular resolution, and go twenty light-minutes out (around what most hyper limits are quoted as, and ships "hidiing" are usually much further out), and even a superdreadnaught is at best a point source.
 
Sun Tzu
I do not get the point. Even if a ship is a "point source" on the enemy's sensors, it is spotted. The stars don't move, so any ship is identified at once, even if it stands still. Even if it sits in the exact alignment of a star and has exactly the same signature, it would still be detected as soon as the enemy ship moves or if several enemy ships are cross-checking their scans. It may not be identifiable but the enemy knows it is there. We are talking of detection in an area of battle where ships can engage each other qiuickly enough without FTL.

Anyway I initially raised the point because changing the vanilla detection system might add something interesting to gameplay.
Edited by Sun Tzu on 16-02-2015 14:52
 
carl
@Sun Tzu: He uses the phrase "at best" to quantify that statement which, (given i don't understand the technical details here), i can only interpret, in light of the matter being discussed and phrasing, to mean that it might not even show up as that.

Also that's with a lens in the 1500m range. A smaller lens will be worse, (even i know that at least Wink).
 
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