Posted 05 May 2012 - 10:20 PM
LD, I was talking about explosive phase change driven directly by dumping lots of kinetic energy into something, not a chemical explosive effect. I think it's safe to assume Battlemech armor is not explosively combustible, and that PPC do not have some mechanism to provide enough Oxygen fast enough to burn it explosively either. Yes, Iron oxidises, but that requires Oxygen, and the atmosphere probably can't provide enough of it fast enough for a chemical explosive effect. I've heard of crazy people pouring liquid oxygen on Iron and Iron-alloy objects and igniting them, with results more incendiary than explosive, so it should be easy to find visual demonstration in a world with Youtube. Maybe you could get it to explode with the right confinement, but battlemechs probably don't fight in liquid Oxygen at abyssopelagic pressures. I suspect I should have been more clear earlier, though, so...
MOMENTUM IS THE PRODUCT OF MASS AND VELOCITY. KINETIC ENERGY IS THE PRODUCT OF MASS AND THE SQUARE OF VELOCITY. In terms of effect, momentum correlates directly with ability to push something around- the amount of force an impact can impart. That's why people trying to bash each other's brains out tend to find heavier masses useful; putting all of your muscle power into hitting something with a heavier tool will exert more force on impact than doing the same with a lighter tool. That's also why a heavier bullet from the same cartridge and gun will produce more recoil and hit harder for similar energy. (optimal propellant efficiency for a given cartridge and gun is also for a given bullet weight, so one projectile choice will probably be more energetically efficient than the other)
Ravn, I don't see how the sarna.net article disagrees, either. I didn't mean to imply that the beam has no momentum, and I thought I didn't need to explicitly point out that you can't have kinetic energy or momentum without the other. I just assume the meaning of that line is that the recoil is measurable, not that it is anything to care about, because that's the easiest way to reconcile that fluff with reality.
Though it might not be in the sarna.net article, PPC are also canonically specified to be kinetic energy weapons. Of course you're going to get some recoil- you can't accelerate particles without imparting some momentum, and momentum is a conserved quantity, but the recoil-coupled momentum will not be what's damaging the target. Kinetic energy transfer will be doing the work, as per canon, whether by producing significant momentum at the site of collision as described earlier, by damaging heat effects, by secondary radiation, or most likely a combination of all those phenomena and more.
PPC are also explicitly, canonically specified to use electromagnetic means to project particles heavier than phota, BUT that specification also establishes the velocities as being in the relativistic range so the practical effect is not _much_ different from a laser in terms of recoil. The formula for kinetic energy can be expressed as momentum times velocity, so accelerating any mass to "nearly the speed of light" means a lot of energy per unit momentum- so much that you will need planet-sterilising orbital bombardment energy long before you have enough recoil for your station-keeping thrusters to have any difficulty with. I'm pretty sure the recoil of a PPC is not a big deal, and the momentum is not what the target should worry about.
I have no problem with any "blaster" knocking targets around without needing worrisome recoil, but if you have a hard time imagining it I suggest inputting "Pulsed Energy Projectile" into your favourite search engine and/or checking the wikipedia for a dramatic example. The idea is to knock a human off its feet with a pulse of light, by exploding a small portion of the human's mass. It ends up being lethally dangerous due to EMP effects from rapidly generating a body of plasma and heating it with the rest of the pulse, which has me suspecting it is a perfect phenomenological model for the PPC. The most obvious difference here between the real laser beam and the fictional heavier particle beam, besides scale of application, is that the latter would not be absorbed by the plasma so efficiently, instead dumping most of its energy into the target directly. This seems like a perfect fit since in Battletech canon, heating is at least a significant part of how all beam weapons damage armor and systems.
Anyway... Gameplay-wise, I think ammo-consuming weapons should overall be much more threatening to offset the various costs. I occasionally lurk around bg.battletech.com and looooongtime players there seem to get the same impression as I, that things are generally imbalanced in favour of beam weapons and against autocannon. Missiles seem to be somewhere in-between, more sensitive to setting, goals, technology and rules, etc. A realtime game represents an opportunity to fix this without messing with any canonical values just by adding neat add-on effects that are not modeled in the source material, and I'm really hoping that PGI are getting it right where those who came before didn't.
I'm not a fan of adding extra maintenance costs for beams, because I see this difference as an opportunity to offer the kind of meaningful choice that reinforces a player's sense of agency. The "roman candle" threat is significant, and so is not being able to take wasteful shots when you only have "low value" targets to shoot at, so I really think there should be a strong reward for taking on those costs. Instead of trying to make the groups more similar by minimising all of those costs, just make those weapons more effective so they are desirable in a fair share of situations and players can feel like they are articulating a preference between two distinct approaches that require very different aptitudes to best use. I like the idea of autocannon and missiles having bonus effects that support each other especially well, so there are options to combine them for greater performance to offset the cost to feed them.
I hope to see all heat generation and dissipation values stay the same, so sustained output is the same, but allow heat-related penalties to apply before dissipating the heat; if I run a flashbulb to avoid the many serious costs of ammo-consuming weapons, which is a sort of thing I tend toward, I should suffer some kind of effectiveness penalty so I don't feel like I'm taking the only viable option. Messing with weight, heat values, etc. would break a lot of canon units, but just adding some consequences for generating a lot of waste heat instead of just for not dissipating it would pretty handily keep our beloved canon units like the Awesome, Flashman, Grasshopper, Hunchback -4P, etc. intact but not cheesy. It could also be a powerful incentive to use lighter 'mechs than otherwise, since those penalties get worse the more high-heat firepower you are cramming on a single chassis in exchange for the mobility of ligher units.