Jump to content

Beamed power propulsion


Recommended Posts

http://www.projectrho.com/public_html/rocket/surfaceorbit.php#laserlaunch

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_propulsion

I'm wondering if KSP2's engine can support some kind of beamed power propulsion, and if so, could it be included in the game?

Once you have a colony all set up, you could build a large laser or similar and use it to power a variety of drives that could equal or exceed various types of fission propulsion, without the radiation issue...

Likewise, an orbiting mother ship could do beamed power for a lander.

Just a thought, it would be nice to see.

Edited by KerikBalm
Link to post
Share on other sites

Beamed power feels a bit cheaty to me- just park a massive reactor in orbit or a huge solar array near the sun and magically beam the power for a power-hungry base or ship right there without having to actually produce the power on site. There’s also the question of how detailed to make it- one single type of beam, different frequency bands, individual frequencies with different stats for distance losses/accuracy/heating/atmosphere penetration/etc.?

Link to post
Share on other sites
5 hours ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Beamed power feels a bit cheaty to me- just park a massive reactor in orbit or a huge solar array near the sun and magically beam the power for a power-hungry base or ship right there without having to actually produce the power on site. There’s also the question of how detailed to make it- one single type of beam, different frequency bands, individual frequencies with different stats for distance losses/accuracy/heating/atmosphere penetration/etc.?

Well the thing is, KSP1 has already actually demonstrated a lot of the benefits and requirements of beamed power indirectly with the communication network thing. Beamed power drops off over distances and requires line of sight between transmitter and user. This makes it tricky to use over long distances or when maneuvering around bodies.

I would think that beamed power would be simply explained as "beam power" and not get into the particulars of its visible, infrared, microwave or whatever. Keep it simple, put the details in the KSPedia.

Like lots of other things that look gamebreaky in KSP2, my bet is that more powerful tech requires more grind or resources to set up in the first place. A large power generating and transmitting station, for example.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Imo, beamed power to get the performance of mmH is far less cheaty then mmH, as it requires the reactor somewhere nearby(not an insignificant undertaking), line of sight, timing your flights r establishing something like comm-net, adding a gimballing receiver to your craft, etc...

Or you can just have mmH that magically stores all the energy that you need.

Plus, a fleet of motherships with power beaming equipment could easily be turned into warships :p which is a cool thought.

Link to post
Share on other sites
10 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

I'm wondering if KSP2's engine can support some kind of beamed power propulsion

Yes. I don't know if it makes sense in terms of gameplay, and whether it's worth the hassle, but from purely "Is it possible to add to the game?" perspective, yes.

Link to post
Share on other sites
12 hours ago, jimmymcgoochie said:

Beamed power feels a bit cheaty to me- just park a massive reactor in orbit or a huge solar array near the sun and magically beam the power for a power-hungry base or ship right there without having to actually produce the power on site. There’s also the question of how detailed to make it- one single type of beam, different frequency bands, individual frequencies with different stats for distance losses/accuracy/heating/atmosphere penetration/etc.?

I mean, being cheaty is by no means an issue when we already have torchships confirmed.

Link to post
Share on other sites
8 hours ago, K^2 said:

I don't know if it makes sense in terms of gameplay, and whether it's worth the hassle,

From my perspective, it would be great gameplay, and really fit into the KSP2 theme. 

A lot of KSP2 seems to be about using future tech, and setting up infrastructure. Beamed power checks both of those boxes.

It would add a commnet-like gameplay mechanic as an alternative to using nuclear engines (which have a radiation mechanic). In both cases there is a gameplay tradeoff for the performance gains over chemical propulsion.

Or.... you know... just throw in purple magic and have something that requires no infrastructure to operate, has no radiation concerns, and gets you superior performance to chemical and solid core NTR... [sarcasm]yea, now that I type that, never mind, that last one sounds like better gameplay than beamed power[/sarcasm]

Link to post
Share on other sites
6 hours ago, KerikBalm said:

[sarcasm]yea, now that I type that, never mind, that last one sounds like better gameplay than beamed power[/sarcasm]

I mean, in a way, that is better gameplay. Depends on what sort of game you are making. KSP already makes an orbit-capable rocket almost trivial compared to real world. Would having to worry about fuel pumps, engine resonance, max Q, metal fatigue, cryo fuel boil-off, electrical and hydraulic systems, hermetic seals, blast debris, manufacturing defects... make for a better game? Individually, each one can be worked in, but all at once would be a disaster. KSP is a game and there is balance.

We are used to tech in KSP  being frozen at a certain tech level. Yes, there's a tech tree in science or career mode, but as you unlock the tree, you don't stop using earlier nodes.

KSP2 can be a different game. One where starter tech gets obsolete. That's not bad gameplay if there is real progression. If you get magic unicorn dust engines with double the Isp and no disadvantages late into tech tree and you have to have off-world bases actually mining magic unicorn dust, rather than it just costing you credits, then it works from perspective of gameplay, and we're just arguing over whether you are prepared to accept magic unicorn dust in a game about little green aliens on a world with impossible density building rockets out of impossible materials with components that violate conservation laws.

I'm not saying it's the only way. But it's not inherently worse than other options. Beamed power is likely to still be magic tech as implemented in KSP2, as it would still require simplifications. And whether adding a system with so much logistics hassle would make it better or worse gameplay is uncertain. There are bad ways to implement both options for sure, and finding what works best would take some prototyping.

Link to post
Share on other sites
11 hours ago, K^2 said:

KSP2 can be a different game. One where starter tech gets obsolete. That's not bad gameplay if there is real progression. If you get magic unicorn dust engines with double the Isp and no disadvantages late into tech tree and you have to have off-world bases actually mining magic unicorn dust, rather than it just costing you credits, then it works from perspective of gameplay,

[...]

I'm not saying it's the only way. But it's not inherently worse than other options.

Two points:

1) I somewhat expect that chemical will still have some role in KSP2 despite the higher tech, when first establishing/bootstrapping a colony. Making hydrolox fuel would be relatively easy (electrolysis of water/ice), wherase one can expect that channeling purple space magic will require construction of elaborate temples for the rituals. Similarly, producing advanced fission and fusion drives will take more manufacturing capability than a chemical rocket - perhaps even giving pressure fed chemical (perhaps even monoprop) rockets a role, as they could be the first thing a growing colony can manufacture.

2) Just making a higher tech better than a lower tech in every way means that the new challenges are basically just reskins of the old challenges... I htink its poor game design, and reminscent of grindy RPGs from the '90s and early 2000s when higher level foes were basically reskins of earlier foes, with stats increased proportionately to match the improved stats of your character.

 

Quote

Beamed power is likely to still be magic tech as implemented in KSP2, as it would still require simplifications. And whether adding a system with so much logistics hassle would make it better or worse gameplay is uncertain. There are bad ways to implement both options for sure, and finding what works best would take some prototyping.

For sure, there are many ways to implement it, but I don't see it being much more of a logistics hassle than using probes and dealing with probe control points and commnet limitations - with the change here that lower "signal strength" leads to less engine power, and power stations would act like probe control points that aren't multihop capable.

 

Also, such a system could serve a variety of purposes. You could use beamed power for surface to orbit shuttles, as well as for the outgoing impulse of an interstellar ship, like the hypothetical breakthrough starshot or the fictional venture star ( https://james-camerons-avatar.fandom.com/wiki/Interstellar_Vehicle_Venture_Star ) which uses beamed power/a photon sail to leave earth, and an antimatter engine to decelerate at the destination.

Beamed power wouldn't be a one trick pony to replace purple space magic.

Nor would it be a true replacement. With beamed power you wouldn't need the elaborate temples on the surface to channel PSM, you could use more basic ISRU facilities for chemical propellent/hydrogen production as long as you have a power beaming ship/station in orbit (which could use solar panels and capacitors). In contrast a PSM powered shuttle would need the colony to be able to produce PSM for each trip, so when establishing a colony, it will either have to get by without PSM shuttles while it bootstraps, or you need to send enough equipment (and store enough channeled PSM for the shuttles to bring stuff down) to begin immediate channeling of PSM.

Edited by KerikBalm
Link to post
Share on other sites
57 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

I somewhat expect that chemical will still have some role in KSP2 despite the higher tech, when first establishing/bootstrapping a colony. Making hydrolox fuel would be relatively easy (electrolysis of water/ice), wherase one can expect that channeling purple space magic will require construction of elaborate temples for the rituals.

It's a little hard to say whether that will be as much of a challenge given the supply routes that have been mentioned, but if it has limitations you speak of, that makes it even less of a problem with gameplay perspective, so completely fair either way.

57 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Similarly, producing advanced fission and fusion drives will take more manufacturing capability than a chemical rocket

I also doubt we'll get fusion drives in anything remotely compact. So while it's a strict upgrade for serious interplanetary/interstellar, it doesn't really impact how you build most of your working fleet.

57 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Just making a higher tech better than a lower tech in every way means that the new challenges are basically just reskins of the old challenges...

This is honestly the only bit I disagree with. That's definitely a situation you can end up in with bad design, and your RPG example is well taken. But it's not at all a given in KSP. Just the opposite, I think. If you are looking at building an interplanetary network, you're going to be lifting a lot of cargo from Kerbin. And while initially the challenge of building complicated mutli-stage lifters or intricately balanced SSTOs is the thing you play for, it does start wearing thin after a while. You are grinding the same challenge without even a reskin. Getting engine that works essentially same as chemical rockets but with ~2x ISP would let you construct fairly straight forward cargo hauling SSTOs and focus on bigger projects, like your orbital construction yards and colonies.

And yes, beamed power also gives you that, but I don't see advantage of added complexity. The objective is met with an ISP boost, and having to lug around a beam source doesn't really create a new challenge. It's just another DSN in disguise. Whereas infrastructure you need to maintain to use the magic dust drives seems like an actual new challenge.

 

P.S. I'm coming off as a bit too negative on beamed power, perhaps. My point isn't that it's somehow bad. I'm just not sold on it being inherently better. There's stuff to tune and balance with and without beamed power, and I think you can get good gameplay with either choice. But given all that, simpler solution is not to bother with beamed power unless there's a real advantage somewhere in there, which I'm still not seeing.

Edited by K^2
Link to post
Share on other sites
35 minutes ago, K^2 said:

It's a little hard to say whether that will be as much of a challenge given the supply routes that have been mentioned, but if it has limitations you speak of, that makes it even less of a problem with gameplay perspective, so completely fair either way.

Well, due to the lack of details, we are engaging in speculation. I could also speculate that it just means that you need to land more material to start using PSM channeled by the colony for supply routes and new ships...

35 minutes ago, K^2 said:

I also doubt we'll get fusion drives in anything remotely compact. So while it's a strict upgrade for serious interplanetary/interstellar, it doesn't really impact how you build most of your working fleet.

Well, I mentioned fusion AND Fission. NTRs are certainly compact and will be included. It will be interesting if they require both propellant and occasional refueling with fissile material.

35 minutes ago, K^2 said:

That's definitely a situation you can end up in with bad design, and your RPG example is well taken. But it's not at all a given in KSP.

Well, its a big fear of mine. The PSM engine seems like its just a straight up upgrade to chemical rockets, and I don't see how they can introduce any new challenge that the PSM engine solves, that couldn't be solved with chemical if you don't just tweak the gravity and celestial body radius numbers...

It certanly seems to me like it will lead to the RPG example, whereas other techs can have mechanics that make unique challenges (balancing power generation and heat for the large interplanetary and interstellar drives, dealing with radiation, specifics of using the atmosphere and flight profiles in jet and air augmented rocket designs, etc).

The only possible limitation I can see is how much infrastructure is needed to make the fuel, and that seems like it should be able to be solved (speculating) by just bringing more stuff when you first set up the colony.

All these other techs have some quirk that separates them from just a drop in replacement for chemical rockets, and beamed power would follow that trend with its own unique gameplay restrictions

35 minutes ago, K^2 said:

Just the opposite, I think. If you are looking at building an interplanetary network, you're going to be lifting a lot of cargo from Kerbin. And while initially the challenge of building complicated mutli-stage lifters or intricately balanced SSTOs is the thing you play for, it does start wearing thin after a while. You are grinding the same challenge without even a reskin. Getting engine that works essentially same as chemical rockets but with ~2x ISP would let you construct fairly straight forward cargo hauling SSTOs and focus on bigger projects, like your orbital construction yards and colonies.

When that can already be abstracted by setting up supply routes, I don't see how a drop in replacement for chemical rockets that just gives you better performance changes anything. It just makes getting to orbit (whatever the specifics of that challenge for a given body) easier.

35 minutes ago, K^2 said:

And yes, beamed power also gives you that, but I don't see advantage of added complexity. The objective is met with an ISP boost, and having to lug around a beam source doesn't really create a new challenge. It's just another DSN in disguise. Whereas infrastructure you need to maintain to use the magic dust drives seems like an actual new challenge.

The power beaming aparatus would be infrastructure just like the PSM channeling infrastructure, so that part is more or less equivalent. It would create unique gameplay because (depending on your infrastructure), you'd have the improved performance only at specific parts of your flight. Look at various designs on atomic rockets. To go from surface/orbit where you have the power plant to a distant destination requires some sort of hybrid ship with a propulsion system that works at the destination (as seen in the interstellar ships in the fictional "Pandora universe"), whereas PSM drives just work anywhere, no restrictions. Depending on the location of your power station, its capabilities, and your receivers capabilities you'd experience variable power, which would be a unique gameplay challenge to deal with. It would also lend to more gameplay around orbital mechanics, perhaps PE kicking just the right amount so that your ejection burn is done when the craft is in optimal receiving position relative to the power station.

You could even have designs that can also use high levels of solar irradiance, as some designs (similar to "solar steamers") could equally use sunlight or incoming laser light. Use a laser to depart kerbin, and plain old sunlight to do an orbital insertion (or at least orbital maneuvers if the power is still too low for a full capture burn) at Moho... or something like that

Since a lot of the KSP2 gameplay will apparently balance power and heat, that can also apply to this drive as well. Operating at full transmission power  requires balance not just at the transmitter, but also at the receiver, which may overheat if not properly designs and utilized, etc...

It seems to me like it could provide many unique gameplay challenges. Some other tech just seems like a drop-in upgrade from chemical... which seems boring from a gameplay perspective, and when its not even based on reality, its not even a matter of compromising somewhere between gameplay and realism.

Link to post
Share on other sites
15 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Well, I mentioned fusion AND Fission. NTRs are certainly compact and will be included. It will be interesting if they require both propellant and occasional refueling with fissile material.

Unless they go with something really fancy, like gas core open cycle NTRs, I don't expect getting anything substantially different from NERVA, which we already know how it fits in the game mechanics. TWR is the big limitation there that balances it against everything else pretty well.

32 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

Well, its a big fear of mine. The PSM engine seems like its just a straight up upgrade to chemical rockets, and I don't see how they can introduce any new challenge that the PSM engine solves, that couldn't be solved with chemical if you don't just tweak the gravity and celestial body radius numbers...

It doesn't introduce new challenges. New challenges have to come from new systems. PSM does exactly the opposite. It removes some of the old challenges which player has outgrown.

If you are building interstellar ships driven by fusion or beam core antimatter drives, you shouldn't be needing to reinvent yet another multi-stage cargo ship to ferry fuel up to the orbital construction.

I'm sure some people will want to play chemical-only challenges, and they still can. But at that scale of tech, building another heavy chemical rocket just isn't a good challenge to have for most players.

37 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

just makes getting to orbit easier

Precisely. Why is that bad?

38 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

The power beaming aparatus would be infrastructure just like the PSM channeling infrastructure, so that part is more or less equivalent. It would create unique gameplay because (depending on your infrastructure), you'd have the improved performance only at specific parts of your flight.

What's the gameplay benefit there? All it makes you do is having to rebuild the beaming infrastructure over and over and over. It has the same problem as DSN. Setting up a relay network is fun the first couple of times, but by the fourth or fifth planet you don't want to deal with it anymore.

Link to post
Share on other sites
50 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

The only possible limitation I can see is how much infrastructure is needed to make the fuel, and that seems like it should be able to be solved (speculating) by just bringing more stuff when you first set up the colony.

I can see a lot of potential limitations when comparing PSM to hydrolox:

An easier to craft engine and a refining plant that can be included directly in the veichle, opposed to an engine that requires rare resources, top tier manufacturing processes and a huge plant that can't be brought from outside (has to be built in place) that also uses a crazy amount of energy to operate.

Smaller engines with more fine control as opposed to PSM that will dwarf the top tier chemical engines in its smaller variants, despite the advances in colonization and technology you'll still need small probes, satellites and simpler exploration crafts.

 

I don't think that the differences in "size class" we see between "traditional" KSP crafts and interstellar monstrosities will be the only one, just the more obvious, the difference between a exploration lander for 3 Kerbals and a heavy duty lander that brings 100t of cargo to a surface colony maybe not as big, but there's more than enough space to limit the use of PSM only to one of those classes and not the other.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 hour ago, Master39 said:

An easier to craft engine and a refining plant that can be included directly in the veichle, opposed to an engine that requires rare resources, top tier manufacturing processes and a huge plant that can't be brought from outside (has to be built in place) that also uses a crazy amount of energy to operate.

Well, I already mentioned that PSM refueling will need more infrastructure.... although the resources (hydrogen) to manufacture it would not be rare at all.

I also would not assume that the ISRU drills and refinery from KSP1 that work for KSP1's chemical rockets will make a return in KSP2, given the colony mechanic.

So that leaves us with just the idea that you need higher level equipment to make PSM fuel, fine

 

1 hour ago, Master39 said:

Smaller engines with more fine control as opposed to PSM that will dwarf the top tier chemical engines in its smaller variants, despite the advances in colonization and technology you'll still need small probes, satellites and simpler exploration crafts.

I see no reason why PSM engines cannot be made in similar small variants.

Anyway, PSM should not be the main focus of this dicusion, but rather engines making use of beamed power, that should give similar to better performance, but be more complex to use ... I think the added complexity would make for more interesting gameplay, but it seems some people do not agree.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Nate addressed this in a podcast. Short version is, "I would love to have it... in an expansion." Same as solar sails.

That was before pushing the release to 2022 I think, though, so who knows what they'll be able to do with the extra time and budget? I'd also like to see it.

Link to post
Share on other sites
1 minute ago, KerikBalm said:

I also would not assume that the ISRU drills and refinery from KSP1 that work for KSP1's chemical rockets will make a return in KSP2, given the colony mechanic.

Not the same, but there's more than enough space in the gameplay design to allow for something like the MAV from "the Martian to exist", I've argued in the past that there's even enough room to have different kinds of chemical propellants, each with its own characteristics (e.g. Slighly OP Kerolox that can only be procured from Kerbin, limiting its usefulness in later offworld gameplay, while helping the first efforts of new players).

 

7 minutes ago, KerikBalm said:

I see no reason why PSM engines cannot be made in similar small variants.

Gameplay, if you don't want them to be a replacement for chemical you don't make them be one, and that's my whole point. 

After the initial Kerbin-mun tutorial zone (where players are new and easily cofused by too many options) you can add all sort of constraints to different fuels and technologies giving them their specific use-cases just by playing with the specific engines you give to the players. 

You want beamed power to be used mainly to move huge Venture Star-like ships? Make it impractical to use on smaller vessel just by making the "sail" part being a 5m diameter one on the smaller variant.

Size and mass, throttle range, resources and tech level required to craft, cost there are a lot of things you can play with to make even the "Ant" remain a relevant engine while you're playing with the "torch ships" Nate alluded to.

  

To conclude no, I don't think any technology could preclude another to be relevant and I don't think there's anything making beamed power irrelevant or useless because it's not a matter of viability of a technology IRL but a mere question of game design.

Link to post
Share on other sites
46 minutes ago, Brikoleur said:

Nate addressed this in a podcast. Short version is, "I would love to have it... in an expansion." Same as solar sails.

oh god.... looks like I'll be sitting out of KSP2 for a while until all the DLC is out in a cheap bundle... already waiting for 2022, so, yea, whats another year or three.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Its a bit of a necro, but I saw some points I had overlooked and not addressed:

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

Unless they go with something really fancy, like gas core open cycle NTRs, I don't expect getting anything substantially different from NERVA, which we already know how it fits in the game mechanics. TWR is the big limitation there that balances it against everything else pretty well.

Well, I am hoping that they expand the NTR lineup. Why not gas cores? liquid cores too. And pebble beds, and LANTRs, especially LANTRs and pebble beds to overcome the low TWRs.

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

It doesn't introduce new challenges. New challenges have to come from new systems. PSM does exactly the opposite. It removes some of the old challenges which player has outgrown.

I didn't say it did, I was referencing new challenges provided by new systems and their planets/moons. When you add the PSM engine to make getting to LKO trivial, you also affect the challenge of every new body. The only way to reintroduce a challenge to those, is to pump the numbers up as far as dV and required TWR. If the engine essentially functions like a chemical rocket, then its just a reskin of the old challenge, like the old RPGs with reskins (or even just different colors) that have better stats to match your characters better stats.

From my point of view, its the automated supply routes that are there to remove old challenges.

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

If you are building interstellar ships driven by fusion or beam core antimatter drives, you shouldn't be needing to reinvent yet another multi-stage cargo ship to ferry fuel up to the orbital construction.

From my point of view, its the automated supply routes that are there to ferry fuel up.

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

I'm sure some people will want to play chemical-only challenges, and they still can. But at that scale of tech, building another heavy chemical rocket just isn't a good challenge to have for most players.

If the PSM engine functions just like a chemical engine with no specific quirks, then a chemical only challenge becomes the same thing as a rescaled system +stock parts challenge in KSP 1 (which, granted is something I do, having moved from 1x to 3x to 4x scale).

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

Precisely. Why is that bad?

Because it doesn't just make getting to LKO easier, it makes getting to orbit of any body easier. It doesn't seem very engaging, and its not even realistic (as upgrading an solid core NTR from a design with channels through a reactor to a pebble bed design would).

NTRs and beamed power make the challenges different, not the same challenge, but with the dV reqs and engine Isp pumped up. 

On 11/27/2020 at 1:20 PM, K^2 said:

What's the gameplay benefit there? All it makes you do is having to rebuild the beaming infrastructure over and over and over.

The same can be said for establishing PSM channelling temples for PSM engines.

The gameplay benefit is more in depth craft design, and new types of craft, like hybrid craft that depart under beamed power, and operate under chemical/nuclear at the destination.

Nuclear could be a good choice at the destination, giving you good performance when there is no colony to irradiate, while beamed power close to the colony gets you good performance when close to a colony that reacts badly to irradiation.

It would be a fundamentally differnt craft design. My fear with some other engines is that you build the same type of craft, just with better stats. 

Direct harnessing of solar energy close to stars is also an interesting possibility, perhaps some worlds don't need beamed power at the destination, as long as you don't land on the night side... granted, this is a bit similar to using OP ion engines in KSP1 (I hope that is gone in KSP2, since it supports thrusting while on rails/when the ship isn't the active vessel.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...