Oh-ho, a punny title. I must be feeling frisky this evening.
Space is a vacuum.
Of course, we all know this. But Vacuum means there's no air. Again, pretty obvious. Sound, however, is vibrations in air.
Or other mediums. Water can transmit sound waves as well.
But essentially, this means that when something explodes in space, you won't hear a thing. In fact, you'd hear nothing but your own ship, usually. Still, we're so used to hearing explosions when we see them that it'd be quite jarring to our senses if we did not. Naturally, it's quite easy to expect designers of space combat vehicles to try and compensate for this.
So my on-board computer uses its situation awareness to emulate context-sensitive sounds. But it makes me curious: how would it be if it did NOT? If I only heard sounds coming from my own ship; otherwise sensor alarms and radio comm, etc? I think I would like to explore this feature. How hard would it be to implement?
You could grab a
and take a look at the hermes_sounds.vp file.
, it should be enough to place an empty / silenced* .WAV file of the same name into the \data\sounds directory (which you'll have to create first) of your installation path.
You'll have to figure out which sounds to replace first yourself though, but the names seem pretty descriptive.
* Not sure if a zero-byte file simply named to .WAV will do, or if it has to be an actual valid .WAV file containing e.g. 0.1 seconds of silence.
Not to discourage you, but physics has never been a strong point of the Wing Commander games. Not only does sound not propagate through vacuum, but you shouldn't be able to see most of the gun "beams" at all, since they're mostly some sort of laser or particle weapons, which won't have anything to interact with in space. I guess you could see the plasma guns' fire, but that would be about it (and how you can fire it without melting your own ship is whole other ball of wax).
And all of that is minor quibbles (you could say it was all "added" by a smart HUD interface) compared to the more fundamental physics. All three of Newton's laws of motion are massively violated by the way the fighters move, and Einstein's relativity and causality both get tossed out the window without so much as a blink by the FTL "jump points."
But it's the way Wing Commander has always been, and it makes for a fun game. I remember buying a space fighter game called "XF5700 Mantis" that attempted realistic Newtonian physics; it did a great job of demonstrating why you don't want Newtonian physics in a fighter sim (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XF5700_Mantis
Oh, you have no idea how much I love this conversation!
It's downright miraculous what a little application of handwavium can do.
Jump points isn't even 'faster' than light because you're not actually crossing the space between the two points. I don't know about you but, the fact that jump points are kind of 'just there' and that we're helpless to see them form or dissipate (science station was studying the formation of a new jump point before it was senselessly wiped out by Kilrathi...) leads me to believe more as though jump points are actually wormholes, which are hypothesized to exist just fine in real life space.
Another thing is that, these laser weapons and their destructive potential--are FAR greater than we can even assume to measure in present day. We may call lasers coherent light, but it's hardly coherent. Especially if the laser weapons have limited range at all, it's losing energy. Let's just wave our hands a little more and make some more assumptions, shall we? We can assume lasers are visible because there is so MUCH directed radiation packed into such a tiny area of space that,
a) Planck transition of these electromagnetic particles through space is lagged by overabundance of 'traffic'
b) It's bleeding electromagnetic radiation just as fast as it can to decrease the 'lag'
c) For the duration of the 'beam's transit from emission to loss of effective range it emits harmless photons in all directions, but then,
d) The moment it has surpassed effective range is the moment it has shed enough energy that it no longer needs to bleed off into photons, nor travel at sub-light speeds. After that point, it's harmless to the shielding systems of modern ships.
For plasma, though--heat requires a medium just like sound and we can create plasma here on present-day earth without melting everything within 8 kilometers of the site via use of electromagnetic bottling. Plasma is made of charged particles, and so they are susceptible to becoming trapped within an electromagnetic field. Provided this field is in a vacuum, you'll get light, and some of that light might be in the infrared range (thus heat), but it won't be merely as much damage as direct contact will cause.
Now as far as the shameless violation of Newtonian physics...
Dialogue in the game indicates that the electromagnetic ram scoops that funnel in free floating hydrogen (the most ubiquitous substance in the universe, really) are what cause the drag. However, I think it's feasible that the concentration of electromagnetic radiation that it takes attract sufficient free hydrogen would also result in a heavier inertial 'footprint'. As in, how mass creates an indentation in time-space fabric that we interpret as gravity, these hyper-dense concentrations of energy spike particularly hard into the 'fabric' of space-time. They create a hell of a lot of drag.
I know completely well that giving physics a swift boot up the ass is what makes the game fun. I just like describing the boot--Also for fun. It provides me with some immaterial level of comfort to imagine that we can go back to real physics if we REALLY wanted to...
The whole "FTL-violates-causality" thing doesn't actually require a violation of relativity; that is, you don't have to travel through "normal" space at a speed faster than light. See www.physicsguy.com/ftl/html/FTL_part4.html
for a full explanation, it's kind of neat. But almost no SF actually deals with this issue; there generally isn't even any handwavium or techbabble explanation, everyone in the universe just neglects to notice that this could occur, and the author makes sure no actual paradoxes are generated.
Oh, and if you want to talk about physics-plausible SF, check out www.projectrho.com/rocket/
. But if it eats the next several days of your life while you read it, don't say I didn't warn you
The idea behind the "behaves like an airplane" is indeed the principle that the computer automatically coordinates all direction changes with maneuvering thrusters and the main engines.
The idea behind a forward drag is something related to intakes and/or hydrogen collectors which are just as bullshit as in star trek
As for the plasma gun, well plasma is ionized gas. And like any ionized material, if you get only one part of the ions you could contain it in a magnetic field. And that you'd have to do anyway, otherwise how the hell would you propell the thing except for just such a magnetic field.