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-   -   TVtropes, STO, and the standard Sci-Fi Fleet (http://sto-forum.perfectworld.com/showthread.php?t=515801)

sophlogimo 01-16-2013 12:45 AM

TVtropes, STO, and the standard Sci-Fi Fleet
 
TVtropes.org is a great site. Not only does it explain all the neat concepts from all types of fiction, it also allows you to look at your own subconscious expectations about fictional and even real-world concepts. (A word of warning, though: Clicking on any tvtropes-Link might lead to excessive reading of a cascade of linked pages, resulting in the loss of lots of time. )

When it comes to STO, the article about the Standard Sci-Fi Fleet is particularily interesting, because... most new folks who come to the game will assume the ships in STO to follow that logic - because that's how we see starships on TV all the time.

But that's a problem. According to TVTropes, a standard Sci-Fi fleet consists of
  • Small craft: Escape pods, fighters and shuttles (and, where available, Mecha)
  • Space Ships: Patrol boats, corvettes, frigates, destroyers, tenders, smaller carriers, repair ships, couriers.
  • Capital Ships: Battlecruisers, Battleships, Carriers, Battlestars, "Banner Ships"
  • "others": Torpedo boats, Science vessels, Space Guns

I think many people will, when first starting to play STO, believe that apart from the small craft, they see some kind of trinity in these categories, which they will expect to map to the trinity in the game. They will quite likely, even if subconsciously, expect
  • Escorts of STO to be the "Space Ships"
  • Cruisers of STO to be the "Capital Ships"
  • Science Ships of STO to be the "Other Ships"

But that is not true. In fact, STO does it more like this:
  • lower tier ships of STO are the "Space Ships", with a few of them instead being "other ships"
  • Cruisers, Escorts, Science Ships and carriers of Tier 4+ in STO are the "Capital Ships"... except maybe for the science vessels.

All of them are capital ships? Well, makes sense. After all, player ships are heroes, heroes get the shiny hero ships. Now, if everything is a capital ship, how do they differ from each other?

TV tropes (and thus, quite likely, our subconscious expectations) divides the capital ships along the following categories:
  • Battlecruisers: Fast and agile, big guns
  • Dreadnoughts: Slow and fat, sturdy, mighty guns
  • Carriers: Not many guns, but lots of fighter wings to launch
  • Battlestars: Big guns and some fighter wings to support it
  • Banner Ships: Not much offensive potential, but good for hosting the command party and collecting information.

And again, most people will, probably subconsciously, fit the STO ship types into those categories:
  • Escorts in STO as Battlecruisers.
  • Cruisers in STO as Dreadnoughts
  • Carriers in STO as Carriers
  • Science Ships in STO as... uh... what are they?
  • And, huh, what is the banner ship?

But that is incorrect. In fact, only one of the above is what the ship class does.

The "escort", "warship" or "destroyer" in STO is the Battlecruiser. Fast, agile, not as heavily armored as it could be, but maneuverable and with really big guns. Makes sense. But that is where it ends:

The cruiser in STO is not the Dreadnought. It does not have an armament that will, in effect, be as powerful as the "battlecruiser's", but the TV Tropes Dreadnought is defined as having at least the same offensive as a battlecruiser, possibly even more so. So, what is it? Well, big defensive capabilities, not so much offense... it is right there: The cruisers are the "Banner Ships". Command ships. They don't do much damage, they direct others and stay just operational in the middle of it all.

So that is the first fallacy that a new player will possibly fall for. Cruisers are not the Dreadnoughts. But then, where is the Dreadnought in STO? Simply put: It does not exist. There are no Dreadnoughts. There are only Battlecruisers and banner ships.

And, just on top of it:

Carriers in STO are not carriers in the TV Tropes sense. They have some fighter hangars, but the bulk of their offensive power still comes from their own weapons and special abilities. So what are they? That's right, the Atrox, the Vo'Quv, the Kar'fi... they are Battlestars, just like the Armitage and the Vesta (well, the latter also a battlecruiser and a science vessel). All of them have slightly different foci, but they are all Battlestars, not Carriers. Where is the Carrier proper? Same answer as for the Dreadnought: There is no Carrier.

So, what are science ships? They are not in the Capital Ship list of TVtropes, right? Right! Science Ships in STO are something sort of unique to STO, a hybrid between a battlecruisers (fast and big guns) and an "other ship", the "Science Vessel" of TV Tropes. A bit more powerful in using its weapons, and obviously looses the plot-protection-level wizardry of some fictional hero-ship science vessels in exchange for those weapons.


Ah, now that the misunderstanding is cleared up, everything is fine, right? You want to command a Dreadnought, but there is no Dreadnought... so you take the one thing that is closest to it: A Battlecruiser. Problem solved. You want to command a Carrier, but there is no carrier, just a Battlestar. So you take that one. Problem solved.

Just throw away all the years of being conditioned by fiction for certain expectations. No problem, no worries.

Right?

smokeybacon90 01-16-2013 01:14 AM

I've never liked the separation of the terms "Battleship" and "Dreadnought/Dreadnaught".

The latter term came from the 1906 Battleship, HMS Dreadnought, which was considered so revolutionary in her "All Big Gun" design compared to her contemporaries that all ships that followed her principle were named "Dreadnoughts", and all the ships made obsolete as a result of her creation were aptly named "Pre-Dreadnoughts". As WW1 loomed, further developments created "Super Dreadnoughts", which exhibited the concepts of the all mainline armament . The point is that all these ships were still officially classed as Battleships by their respective nations. The world then went on to see the creation of the so called Treaty Battleships, and then the more modern Battleships of the WW2 era.

Battlecruisers are another misunderstood term. They are not simply intermediate ships between Cruisers and Battleships. They are a uniquer concept whereby, as Jacky Fisher envisioned: "What they cannot outgun, they can outrun, and what they cannot outrun, they can outgun". These ships had the main armament of a Battleship of the same era, but sacrificed protection for superior speed. Smart in concept, they were actually used poorly during the Wars, and a number were lost particularly when put up against true Battleships (Invincible, Indefatigable, Queen Mary, Hood, Lutzow).

Now, nearly 500 years separate these ships, and the ones of STO, and in the case of other sci fis, vast amounts of time and space. But since we are using quite clearly an early 20th century classification system for our sci fi fleets, we might as well get it right.

user839020189287 01-16-2013 01:28 AM

By reasons of logic, if space is the ocean then space fleets would better mirror wet navies, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_s...classification

direphoenix 01-16-2013 01:29 AM

I believe that site highlights how much people (sci-fi TV writers and by extension the general public who are being informed by bad TV writers) don't know about ship classifications (since they are supposedly using naval terminology with exception to BattleStars) or how fleets work.

Still though, STO is a game, and if they made things completely realistic, it probably wouldn't be very fun for many people. There has to be some sort of middle ground where they can make fun gameplay for every type of playstyle and be reasonable enough to have some amount of credibility so we don't pass out from "suspension of disbelief" exhaustion.

user839020189287 01-16-2013 01:44 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by direphoenix (Post 7500791)
I believe that site highlights how much people (sci-fi TV writers and by extension the general public who are being informed by bad TV writers) don't know about ship classifications (since they are supposedly using naval terminology with exception to BattleStars) or how fleets work.

Still though, STO is a game, and if they made things completely realistic, it probably wouldn't be very fun for many people. There has to be some sort of middle ground where they can make fun gameplay for every type of playstyle and be reasonable enough to have some amount of credibility so we don't pass out from "suspension of disbelief" exhaustion.

ditto.

+1

smokeybacon90 01-16-2013 01:48 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by user839020189287 (Post 7500781)
By reasons of logic, if space is the ocean then space fleets would better mirror wet navies, right?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naval_s...classification

That article has a few problems. It is mixing formal and informal terminology.

The US Navy does not distinguish between "Carriers" and "Supercarriers". The hull designations are CV (no longer used after JFK was decom'd) for conventionally powered carriers, including the Fleet Carriers of WW2, and CVN (formerly CVA(N) for nuclear powered carriers. In the past, other terms such as CVL (Light Carrier), CVE (Escort Carrier), CVB (Lage Carrier) where used for the variety of types that emerged.

I think the best option for carrier designation is with the following categories:

Fleet Carrier (CV) - A fully fledged large carrier, devoted entirely to that role.
Assault Carrier (CVA) - A smaller and more adaptable carrier designed for the rapid strike role.
Light Carrier (CVL) - Limited in use and generally an auxiliary ship.
Escort Carrier (CVE) - Fast carrier designed for local defence of a flotilla or convoy.

___________________

Next we see they use the term Battlecruiser. This is clearly an article on the modern navies, and, according to the definition I outlined in my earlier post, Battlecruisers no longer exist. People often classify the Russian Kirov class as Battlecruisers, though they are strictly speaking, abnormally large guided missile cruisers. Certainly the role of the traditional Battlecruiser has been entirely phased out with the introduction of the very long range missile weaponry of fast Destroyer type vessels, and of the Carrier group.

___________________

Finally, Pocket Battleship. Oh dear. This is an entirely informal term, and was only ever assigned to the Graf Spee class of ships in WW2. The Germans themselves referred to these ships as Panzerschiffe (Armoured Ships). They were simply large Commerce Raiders designed to operate independently, and bore no resemblance to Battleships whatsoever.

delsaberedux 01-16-2013 01:53 AM

Oh hey, thanks a lot for sending me down another multi-hour TV Tropes rabbit hole. :D

At the end of my life, I wonder if my "game over" statistics will tell me how many hours I spent there and how many open browser tabs it generated.

user839020189287 01-16-2013 02:20 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by smokeybacon90 (Post 7501011)
That article has a few problems. It is mixing formal and informal terminology.

The US Navy does not distinguish between "Carriers" and "Supercarriers". The hull designations are CV (no longer used after JFK was decom'd) for conventionally powered carriers, including the Fleet Carriers of WW2, and CVN (formerly CVA(N) for nuclear powered carriers. In the past, other terms such as CVL (Light Carrier), CVE (Escort Carrier), CVB (Lage Carrier) where used for the variety of types that emerged.

I think the best option for carrier designation is with the following categories:

Fleet Carrier (CV) - A fully fledged large carrier, devoted entirely to that role.
Assault Carrier (CVA) - A smaller and more adaptable carrier designed for the rapid strike role.
Light Carrier (CVL) - Limited in use and generally an auxiliary ship.
Escort Carrier (CVE) - Fast carrier designed for local defence of a flotilla or convoy.

___________________

Next we see they use the term Battlecruiser. This is clearly an article on the modern navies, and, according to the definition I outlined in my earlier post, Battlecruisers no longer exist. People often classify the Russian Kirov class as Battlecruisers, though they are strictly speaking, abnormally large guided missile cruisers. Certainly the role of the traditional Battlecruiser has been entirely phased out with the introduction of the very long range missile weaponry of fast Destroyer type vessels, and of the Carrier group.

___________________

Finally, Pocket Battleship. Oh dear. This is an entirely informal term, and was only ever assigned to the Graf Spee class of ships in WW2. The Germans themselves referred to these ships as Panzerschiffe (Armoured Ships). They were simply large Commerce Raiders designed to operate independently, and bore no resemblance to Battleships whatsoever.


Of course, open source information is always found to be wanting and for good reason.

Was not trying to get all real life up in here.

Just dropped that wiki link as it was way much closer to the mark than Tvtropes.

Graf Spee was no Bismark but we all know it was just the Germans contravening the limitations set out by the Treaty of Versailles. Much like how panzer training was done by crews in mock-up tanks made from wood placed over cars.

sophlogimo 01-16-2013 03:21 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by direphoenix (Post 7500791)
[...]
Still though, STO is a game, and if they made things completely realistic, it probably wouldn't be very fun for many people.

True.

Quote:

There has to be some sort of middle ground where they can make fun gameplay for every type of playstyle and be reasonable enough to have some amount of credibility so we don't pass out from "suspension of disbelief" exhaustion.
I wonder, though, if a Carrier and a Dreadnought in the TVTropes sense have been left out of STO due to this line of thought, or for some other reason.... or if it is really just a matter of "hadn't thought of it yet".

sophlogimo 01-16-2013 03:24 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by delsaberedux (Post 7501081)
Oh hey, thanks a lot for sending me down another multi-hour TV Tropes rabbit hole. :D

At the end of my life, I wonder if my "game over" statistics will tell me how many hours I spent there and how many open browser tabs it generated.

Hey, you can't say I didn't warn you! :D

The site is, I believe, extremely useful for not only understanding fiction, but also for understanding people's expectations about fictional stuff.


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