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DSCR - Ship Drives

Ship Drives
One of the first successes I had in deconstructing the ship design rules was with the drive values.  By that I mean that yes, I did figure out formulas that get me exactly (or very, very close) to the cost and slots that are listed in the ship templates.  I’ll explain that statement a little more later.
One of the first things I did was to throw all the drive values in a spreadsheet.  Once you start doing this, it quickly becomes apparent that the cost and slots for drives for a 300 or 400 ton SPAC are the same as those for a TPAC.  As you go on you’ll also notice the same thing for the 700 and 1,000 ton TPAC and Gunboat templates.  Skipping the Scout template (we’ll come back to that one in a minute), looking at the shuttle template we can see that while the shuttle is not allowed a drive above a 17, the cost and slots still match up perfectly with their SPAC and TPAC counterparts.
So, let’s look at the Freighter templates for a moment.  Of the three templates, two of them match up tonnage-wise with Gunboat templates (1,000 and 2,000 ton).  The second number (slots) appears to still matchup between gunboats and freighters with one exception, the slot cost for a 13 drive on a 2,000-ton vessel.  It’s 39 for Gunboats and 41 for Freighters.  I’ll try to touch on this again later, but after running all my numbers, it appears to me that the correct value should be the 41, not 39.  When one considers how many of the other numbers match up perfectly between these templates, these two should as well.  The cost for a freighter’s drive is different though.  It’s roughly ¼ of a gunboat’s drive cost.
For the Scouts, the 300-ton ship matches up perfectly with all the other 300-ton drive costs.  However, the 700-ton vessel’s does not.  In fact, when you look at it closely, the drive costs and slots match up perfectly with the cost and slots for a 1,000-ton ship.  Due to this, I really have to throw out the scout class template at the moment.  I strongly feel that either the wrong cost and slot values were printed or the wrong tonnage was put on the chart, but I can’t tell which by just looking at the drives so we’ll table this part of the discussion for a time when I cover the templates themselves.
Let’s start by looking at the cost chart below.  I’ve put all the drive costs for all the templates except the scout and 3,000-ton freighter into it below.  I’ve also highlighted the break between cheaper drives (in green) and more expensive ones (blue and grey).


If you look at the columns, particularly for Drive 10, you should see that numbers tend to go up at a steady rate.  If you also look at Drive 20, you can see a pattern emerge as well.  We can probably account for these with simple formulas. 
For the green number the math is pretty simple and straightforward.  If we take the tonnage times the drive value, we can get some large but reasonable numbers.  Multiplying that result by .002 (and rounding to the nearest whole number) will bring them down to exactly what we are looking for.  I’ve always been surprised at how easily this part came together, and how hard the next set of numbers has been to deal with.
For the remaining numbers the math is a little more problematic.  For the blue numbers, all we have to do is increase the multiplication factor from .002 to .003 and round up.  However this does not account for the grey numbers.  For those numbers we need to round down.  Now I’m certain you are asking why we would not just simply round the numbers to the nearest whole number and be done with it.  The simple answer is that we get more correct answers rounding up for the majority than we do rounding to the nearest whole number like normal.  Additionally, even if we did first round to the nearest whole number first, we’d still have to both round up certain answers and round down for others.
As for the number in orange.  That number is an outlier that is honestly too big for where it sits.  According to the formulas the value should be either 40 if you round up or 39 if you round down, but never 41.  Due to this, I strongly believe it is a typo on the creator’s part.
One other note for freighters.  The cost of their drives is ¼ of the drives found on the other templates.  However the rounding for the cost is different depending on if you are looking at green or blue (and grey) cost numbers.  For cheaper drives, you round down.  For the more expensive drives you always round up.
Let’s move on to slots.  Again, I’ve put all the drive slots for all the templates except the scout below.  I did put the slots for the 3,000-ton freighter below to show something.  Those numbers match up pretty well with what would have been a 2,500-ton ship.  However, because there is no other data for a 3,000-ton ship for me to draw upon, I am forced to throw it out and not let it affect the work I’m doing.  Once again, I’ve highlighted the break between cheaper drives (in green) and more expensive ones (blue and grey).


The formula for the green drives is reasonably simple.  Take the cost (tonnage * drive * .002), divide that by 25 and multiply the result by the drive value again (rounded to the nearest whole number).  For all of these slot calculations, only round your final result, do not take a rounded cost result and then divide by 25 and multiply by the drive value.  Your numbers will not come out right.  I strongly believe that the 0 slot cost for the 50-ton fighter’s drive 11 is coincidental and that the 0 slot cost for the same drive on the 100-ton ship is a purposeful design decision. 
As you can see from the chart, when I apply the same changes to the slots as I did the cost for the high valued drives (multiply by .003 instead of .002), we have a lot more variance.  Again, most the values can be arrived at by rounding up instead of to the nearest whole number.  The dark grey values are found by rounding down.  The drive 13 for a 2,000-ton ship is the one that has a difference between the gunboat (number in red) and the freighter (shown as black numbers).  The black value of 41 is in line with the rounded-up values, so again, I think the 39 slots is a typo rather than a purposeful decision.
This all leaves us with three values in light grey or white.  Each of these values is one point too high, even for rounding up.  The only way I’ve ever been able to account for these is by changing the multiplier from .003 to something along the lines of .00313. 
As certain as I am of having the calculation basically correct for the green numbers in the charts above, I’m that certain that I’m missing some small thing in my calculations for the more expensive drives in blue.  Even with the gaps in tonnage on the charts that I have, it is easy to see a pattern with the numbers that don’t match perfectly.  There has to be something missing.  It may be relatively insignificant (considering how close I’ve managed to get), but as a computer programmer, I just can’t let it go.
Anyway, I apologize for this being so long.  I fear that the Defensive Values writeup will not be any shorter though.  They will eventually get shorter as I move forward through the various systems though, I promise.
Again, please leave any feedback you have, including any suggestions you may have for solving the riddle of the expensive drives.  I’ve honestly taken it about as far as I can on my own. 

(10-12-2017, 01:46 PM)thevraad Wrote: Anyway, I apologize for this being so long.  I fear that the Defensive Values write-up will not be any shorter though.

Too long? Nah, I waste more digital ink saying far less, much of it incomprehensible, for personal S&G's. The fact that you compiled this information and broke it down into just -what?- three pages?  

The material presented is very concise and easy to digest. Can't wait to see all the pieces laid out like this. This was awesome.

(10-12-2017, 01:46 PM)thevraad Wrote: Again, please leave any feedback you have, including any suggestions you may have for solving the riddle of the expensive drives.  I’ve honestly taken it about as far as I can on my own.

Perhaps someone (or someone who knows someone) from the original team that wouldn't mind sharing some inside insight on the design. Would Kevin Barrett be the 'Professor Falken' of the templates? Could someone in Canada trek out to his cabin just like Matthew Broderick did in Wargames??!?*
  Big Grin
I'm just kidding, of course, but you can see where I'm going with this. As an example, this is on the artistic side of the work that went into the books, but is an account from the guy responsible for creating the ink line art assets for the ship sheets:


Either way, kudos for presenting your findings. I'm not math-minded enough to reverse engineer the formulas, so I appreciate your breakdown. Without waxing philosophical about design process fundamentals "Empathise, Define, Ideate, Prototype, and Test", I think analyzing the layout of the design template's 'clock gears' is worthwhile. 

*If this is the case I'm calling it here that the design system was code-named "Joshua" and the anomalies in the numbers are just Barrett trying to teach it the lesson of futility.
"Fiery the angels fell; deep thunder rolled around their shores; burning with the fires of Orc" -Roy Batty bastardizing William Blake


I thank you for the kind words.

To be honest, I'd love to get Kevin Barrett (original designer), Tim Schmidt (credited with the Ship Design System in the SD:TNM core book), and Matt Forbeck (credited with SD:TNM design) into a room with all of their shoe boxes of old notes just so I could pick their brains.  I have a strong suspicion that Tim is the one who came up with the template system for presenting design rules to players and that it is (at its core) based on the conversion rules that Kevin came up with.

Knowledge.  I crave KNOWLEDGE!!!!!

Interesting take on the design. I tried the same thing, and similar method, years ago. Wish I still had the files. I had a rough estimate for larger ships, which I had submitted to ICE. Even had larger scale weapons. I also toyed with a 3000 ton ship that was not slow like the freighter. Wish I had the original notes on that too. Might have printouts in one of my folders somewhere. 

The 3000 ton warcraft idea was to be a Patrol Cutter or Clipper. Drives a tad faster then a corvette's. Still a one hex ship, but structured more like a corvette, with respect to damage tracks and slots. Limited to one escort weapon (no torp tubes, keel cannon or plazprojector) with a max 180 firing arc (i.e. forward or rear facing). The basic concept was based on a pocket battleship. In game terms, not quite an escort but heavy enough to go toe to toe with a couple gunboats. If interested, I can see about digging my papers up, but it will have to wait until closer to December. I am in the middle of several large projects for work.

I am always up for more information.  You never know what kind of thoughts it might trigger in someone else.


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