How are frames controlled?

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How are frames controlled?

Postby Wadmaasi » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:13 pm

In the Solar Century setting, of course. Macross-style joysticks and pedals? Cybernetic direct neural links? Some sort of pseudo-pneumatic system like Ripley's loader? HOW?!
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ced23Ric » Thu Apr 19, 2012 1:28 pm

InB4 peach joke. :D

Good question. I could need that info for further writing. So far, I am presuming that there are some sort of controls that are not via direct neural links, but maybe somewhat akin to the APUs in Matrix. Neural Links raise all kinds of problems (ADHD Pilots wouldn't work... :D). Also, our 'Frames are what, 4 - 5 metres (12 - 15ft) tall? Having complex neural links would appear to be somewhat over the top. At that size, you don't really need an intricate gyroscope to stay steady. But maybe I am missing something.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Thu Apr 19, 2012 4:30 pm

Fun question! I'll answer even though I really have a staggering ton of &%$# to do!

There are two parts.

First, there are the pilot's controls — levers and pedals in some cases, responsive exoskeletons in others. The Chub and Hi-Leg use limbs and pedals and are generally piloted like an airplane. I'd have to check with Soren, but I think the Commissar is worn like clothing. Exhausting, bulky clothing, like the power loader, yeah. The Ijad have the ability to use different body forms, so the Scramblers follow the movement of a critter called a "ghanat" that's tied into the system. It's sorta like a mammalian tarantula with a body maybe 40 cm in diameter. They have little fingers that they use for grooming and climbing in nature, but Ijad use those fingers as a broad control scheme. Any creature with a central nervous system works fine for them, which is why there are so many shapes.

Then there's the other part: muscle cylinder fluid isn't just a compressible fluid. Sure, when you run electricity through it, it reduces in volume, and does so linearly, like filings along a magnetic field. But also, cylinders are interconnected, which means that they also act as a nervous system, generating an electrical current that is then sent to other cylinders. That means that you "train" limbs to move according to the gestures of the pilot. More experienced pilots know a series of exercises that get a new frame's cylinders working in tight unison — it's a lot like shadow boxing or other martial art forms. Eventually, those actions become reflexes, keeping the frame upright, ducking gracefully, rolling, or even blocking or punching.

When getting into another pilot's frame, it's like putting on someone else's leather shoes: pinchy in some spots, loose in others. When getting into a new one, it's like trying to build something from LEGO® while wearing boxing gloves.
Last edited by Joshua A.C. Newman on Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby MittenNinja » Thu Apr 19, 2012 5:36 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Stuff

I absolutely love this. it really creates a personal attachment to one's frame which I find immensely satisfying.

I really need to start writing some fiction!
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Soren » Thu Apr 19, 2012 7:07 pm

Answers! I'm currently just taking a break from wedding planning, but next week I edit: would like to sit down and explicate this further with pretty pictures. edit: boy, that didn't happen like whoa.

Purpose-built combat models (Chubs, Rumble Monkeys, Hi-Legs, and Striders) use a systems of sticks, switches, and pedals linked to programmable, contextual movement and behavior macros filtered by a rudimentary AI. The advantages of this approach are speed, flexibility and endurance - you can operate a frame for days on end like this, without wearing yourself down, carry out actions instantly, and operate a wide variety of body plans. The disadvantages are lack of precision and a steep learning curve.

Civilian models, and military models derived from civilian models (Conscripts and Commissars, and the standard-model Scrambler), use various degrees of body emulation. On most worker models, you have this big arm-and-torso frame with pedals for the legs. A lot of older Free Colonial soldiers, like Haski, are fantastically ripped because they've been operating these things for so long, and they take pretty minimal training to use precisely and effectively. But they wear even veteran users down a lot faster, and can lead to some idiosyncratic joint damage down the line.

Both approaches assume you've got a helmet that feeds sensor data directly to your eyes and ears - tracking your eye movements and aligning visual and auditory sensors to match. It's a lot of data to process at once, and Frame-riders with PTSD develop a very distinct and noticeable pattern of uncontrolled face- and neck-twitches. And they both need to be exercised to sync everything up.

Nobody has managed to build a working neural interface yet. The Ijad are probably the closest to a working model, but everyone is experimenting, because the potential advantage is enormous.
Last edited by Soren on Tue Sep 25, 2012 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Wadmaasi » Fri Apr 20, 2012 12:07 am

The suppressed wannabe-author in me is all agiggles that you guys have thought this much (and likely more!) about it. I really like that there isn't a single method of control.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Apr 20, 2012 2:45 pm

Admission: we have principles — some stated, some unspoken — that we've developed over the last year or so. When we need a specific fact, we apply the principles and out pops a fact!
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ramcat » Fri Apr 20, 2012 3:52 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:Admission: we have principles — some stated, some unspoken — that we've developed over the last year or so. When we need a specific fact, we apply the principles and out pops a fact!

I just read on another KickStarter project where they were doing a lot of editing to cards, that they had to create a "style sheet" so when they looked at any given element of the game they could see if it fit the "style" they had already designated for that element. Sounds like you've done this at a whole 'nother level (bigger). Applying your 'principles' as a 'style sheet' to the game in general. Nice tactic and one for other game designers to remember.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Fri Apr 20, 2012 6:59 pm

Our techniques are actually abstracted from two of my other games, Shock:Social Science Fiction and Shock:Human Contact. Plus, of course, Soren and I like the same science fiction, so we can shorthand a lot of the references.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ryujin » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:00 am

Soren wrote:Purpose-built combat models (Chubs, Rumble Monkeys, Hi-Legs, and Striders) use a systems of sticks, switches, and pedals linked to programmable, contextual movement and behavior macros filtered by a rudimentary AI. The advantages of this approach are speed, flexibility and endurance - you can operate a frame for days on end like this, without wearing yourself down, carry out actions instantly, and operate a wide variety of body plans. The disadvantages are lack of precision and a steep learning curve.


I was thinking that perhaps pilots of these purpose-built machines have some sort of portable storage device, similar in concept to the mission disks in VOTOMS, upon which is recorded their personalized macros, tailored movement routines, motion-captured gaits, algorithms & such. Hook it up to the vehicle's onboard computer, and the AI attempts to conform the vehicle's actions to the data provided as closely as possible.

The vehicle mimicking the pilot's natural movements, combined with a full-feedback helmet, may lead to a higher level of immersion and, consequently, faster synching & increase in overall precision of movement (i.e. the Chub is mimicking the way you run; you have a very good, virtually instinctive idea where it's going to plant its feet). It also gives the vehicles some additional individuality beyond visual appearance and custom gear.

The storage device itself may even take on symbolic meaning, as a badge of proof/status symbol that the holder is a bonafide combat frame pilot.
Last edited by Ryujin on Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:03 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ced23Ric » Wed Apr 25, 2012 9:02 am

The storage happens in the muscle-fluid cylinders, so ... that won't work, sadly.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Wed Apr 25, 2012 12:41 pm

AI is pretty wussy in this setting, but it would certainly help bring a frame up to speed with a new pilot faster, synching up the frame's cylinders before the pilot even starts training.

But it's rudimentary. It's more like a hindbrain or even chordal response system than a decision-making system.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ryujin » Thu Apr 26, 2012 6:34 am

I see. So it's mainly a passive/reactive/reflexive system, somewhat analogous in role to what terrain-following avionics do for aircraft flying at very low altitudes?

Ced23Ric wrote:The storage happens in the muscle-fluid cylinders, so ... that won't work, sadly.


No, I'm not referring to the 'muscle memory' analogue that the muscle cylinders feature, but to the media storing (probably in digital form) the movement & behavioural macros which are required for complex movements that Soren mentions. Since the stick/lever/pedal control system on these purpose-built combat models doesn't translate very well to naturalistic limbic movements, there has to be some preprogrammed movement routines/macros uploaded into, and translated by, the onboard computer before one can even 'train up' a fresh set of cylinders in the first place (especially given the absence of controls based on body emulation).
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:55 am

Well, there are different ways to do it, too, but imagine a fistful of little buttons and sub-joysticks that give you a lot of fine control. As you repeat motions and give them finesse, you get the motions working together.

Simpler frames mimic the pilot's body movements, too, of course. But they're only capable of human motions, not, say, flying. So there's a balance that frame designers find between the assumed skill of the pilot and the non-humanness of the mission.

In an ST-07, the controls are this kind of thing.
Image

...plus some multi-axis pedals and a helmet that points the sensors around.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby CrimsonKMR » Thu Apr 26, 2012 11:02 am

That sounds an awful lot like the Gundam 00's Tieren, helmet included
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Joshua A.C. Newman » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:54 pm

What a weird coincidence.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby randolph » Thu Apr 26, 2012 12:58 pm

CrimsonKMR wrote:That sounds an awful lot like the Gundam 00's Tieren, helmet included

Those shoulders are totally this piece!
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Ced23Ric » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:03 pm

randolph wrote:
CrimsonKMR wrote:That sounds an awful lot like the Gundam 00's Tieren, helmet included

Those shoulders are totally this piece!

My thoughts exactly.
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby CrimsonKMR » Thu Apr 26, 2012 1:24 pm

Joshua A.C. Newman wrote:What a weird coincidence.


Somehow I don't think any coincidence is really here ;)
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Re: How are frames controlled?

Postby Soren » Fri Apr 27, 2012 2:33 am

Eye candy time!

Check the chorded key commands starting at 1:43 - it's a similar concept.
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