AI War 2: Units of Measurement

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There are a variety of units of measurement for different purposes in AI War 2. Some of them are easily familiar, while others we had to invent for purposes of describing things that vary across orders of magnitude. The smallest fighter-style craft to the planet-sized Devourer Golem all have to be described with one set of metrics, after all!

Metal

The number shown in your interface is a simplified general estimate of various metallic stores. Different ships require different ratios of various metals and carbons, but your logistics system automatically condenses this down to an overall average number for you.

It's worth noting, as an aside, that the metal costs for smaller craft often appear inflated compared to their physical mass and size relative to the larger starships. This is a byproduct of the fact that the smaller craft need a vastly higher concentration of rare metals in order to function. For each unit of their tiny surface area, they must withstand vastly more firepower compared to their larger counterparts. Any small breach is a life-threatening event, so even the flimsiest of scout craft is actually far more durable at a mm scale compared to an average-sized starship.

Those starships, of course, could not exist were they required to have remotely so much rare metal in them. So they rely instead of a multi-layered hull made of more common metals, with automated fire-suppression and breach-patching microbots spread throughout.

Hull Points

This is very much an abstraction, as you can probably guess based on the description of how hulls are constructed. At some point in the distant past, a metric was arrived at which described the general durability of ships across ship classes, and rather than attach a specific unit notation to it, they were simply referred to as "hull points."

Shield Points

As with the hull points, so the shield points. Shield points in particular are a normalized value relative to the amount of surface area they have to cover. Shields fail as an entire unit when they do fail -- speaking here of personal shields or projected bubble forcefields -- and so the actual power output of the shield system relative to the size of the shielded area would only make these units harder to read.

Armor

This refers to the average thickness of the outermost hull... more or less. Since larger craft have a multi-layered hull, it would be problematic to describe the entire depth of those layers as being their armor thickness. That would vastly overstate their effective hull resistance. To solve this problem, instead their effective armor quality is compared to that of the high-quality plating of small crafts. For a fighter-type ship, the hull rating is quite literal (though an average of what lies on the surface of the craft). For the larger craft, it's a rating based on the combined effectiveness of all their hull layers.

  • For a general all-around quality light-armored combat craft, 40mm is a good rating.
  • 120mm is getting into pretty heavy territory.
  • There are some non-combat ships with practically no armor, down below even 10mm thickness.
  • And there are a few titans like the Devourer golem with 400mm armor or even more.

Energy Usage

This is the total energy deficit of the craft, in GW, compared to what its onboard engines (and/or generators in the case of large craft) are able to produce. Most craft run at a deficit, which means that the same subspace tunnels that allow for instantaneous communication must channel energy to them from central collectors that are often in entirely different solar systems from the craft in question.

Without the energy deficit being covered, shields immediately fail. However, most craft are able to run for an indefinite period with full engine and weapon power by overdriving their generators during times of external-subspace-generator brownout or blackout. This is probably not terribly good for them, but most ships don't last long enough while in this state to where there is a noticeable failure rate.

Speed

Acceleration and deceleration are effectively instantaneous thanks to the gravity drives used as engines for modern ships. The output is measured by a numeric rating where 1 is approximately 20.8 km/s. So a speed of 800 would be equivalent to 16,666.67 km/s. At this speed, crossing from the Earth to the Moon would have taken approximately 15 seconds.

Another way to look at this is that a speed of 800 is equivalent to 0.055c, aka over five percent of the speed of light. That's very fast!

Engine

The gravity drives used as engines in modern ships have their maximum output measured in units of Gravitic Exponent (gx). This is a logarithmic scale that refers to how resistant the gravity drive's own impulse generation is to external sources of gravity. The higher the gravitic exponent, the less affected the ship is by gravity wells of planets, gravity generators, or even black holes.

Modern engines are extremely efficient in this regard, with all of them able to attain at least 1gx -- this is enough to negate the effects of virtually any planet's gravity well. However, there are modern gravity generation machines that are able to create an artificial field that affect ships up to 15gx in a small area -- the equivalent of being right next to a small star.

The effective top of the scale is around 25gx, at which a craft could effectively park right outside the event horizon of a supermassive black hole without being pulled out of place.

Albedo

The combined radiation resistance of the layers of hull on a ship is referred to as its albedo. This ranges from 0 (not reflective at all, and thus deadly to any life inside even without being attacked) to 1 (perfectly reflective). At an albedo of 1, you could have a gamma ray burst right next to a ship and its occupants would not even feel a tingle.

The albedo of Earth was about 0.3, give or take, and so this has long been used as the bare minimum for manned craft. Ships with a higher albedo are essentially being hardened against EMPs, nuclear weapons, and other sources of high radiation.

Mass

Given the incredible variance in scale of ships and structures found within the galaxy, a logarithmic scale had to be developed. This scale is referred to as tonne-Exponent, or tX.

  • Individual fighter-type craft -- similar in scale to fighter jets in the 21st century on Earth -- register at around 0.2tX. This is a mere 2 metric tonnes.
  • Your average starship, on the other hand, is more like 5tX. This is 63,095 times more massive than a single fighter!
  • Arks tend to be more like 7tX, which is 100 times more massive than a starship and 6.3 million times more than a single fighter.
  • The Devourer Golem is rated at 19tX, or 1 trillion times more massive than an Ark... and over 6 quintillion times more than an individual fighter.