h a l f b a k e r y
Not so much a thought experiment as a single neuron misfire.
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Eve Online is a huge, complex massively multiplayer
game that incorporates blueprints for items in the
universe from raw materials through sub-sub-sub
assemblies to massive spacecraft. Players mine, buy,
sell the materials. These materials are generally entirely
they don't have to be.
Modern desktops are now sufficiently powerful to
model material designs in CAD to very realistic levels
including physical stresses, energy transfer including
vibration, noise and other shock, heat, magnetism,
electricity, and so forth. It is possible to use known facts
about materials to design physically possible items for
If a module for Eve Online came out
that allowed players to model real materials and design
actual physically possible items it could lead to a
in spacecraft design. Players would be given in-game
bonuses for incorporating real materials and new real
designs would be allowed to compete with the fictional.
course the physics of presently fictional craft would have
to be jiggered to compete evenly with new designs.
Players would be given actual cash awards for
sufficiently innovative designs. There would be
competitions and eventually the privilege of seeing Eve
designs come to life in actual products and even actual
All we need is an Eve Online
supercomputer for some of the harder calculations (it
wouldn't cost all that much) and a team of engineers to
sanity checks and draft outlines for machines to
manufacture the products. This could dovetail nicely with
what NASA is already doing.
||The expanded possibilities here are actually a little
||You could make it such that the designer has to do their own (possibly computer-assisted) homework, so 10 hours into the first flight the game engine could bleep out "You forgot the Oxygen... sorry". Likewise the heirs of the people you sold your design (or completed ships) to could launch a class-action suit.
||That's what frightens me--any moron can put his idiotic
dream into action without the fabrication skills and trial-
and-error process that would teach him what a terrible
idea it really is.
||Only idiots with skills and experience should have this
||So how do you get experience as a 'spaceship designer' in the first place ?
||We've still to initiate, much less get past, the Earth/Luna development phase. If mankind hadn't spent thousands of years in boats, there would have never been (a successful) Columbus.
||makes me want to repost my Lunar Choo Choo idea, it was only a little tongue-in-cheek.
||I actually don't hate this idea, although not just for spacecraft. If you start with a reasonable real-world physics engine, and let people do their own designs, you might really get some interesting stuff out of it, although you'd still want to review anything before it was made in the real world. In practice, however, the sort of stress analysis this would need is still extremely computationally expensive (FEA on a relatively small assembly can still take minutes, larger assemblies or complex loadings can still run to hours).
||Of course, from most people you'd get a steam engine that ran backwards on alternate Wednesdays.
||which is arguably better than nothing... unless of course you actually wanted one that ran forward 7 days a week.
||[marked-for-tagline] //I actually don't hate this
||[Voice] - what I wonder is if you've ever used computational modelling for design work. Most user-friendly 3d drawing programs are pretty easy for a technically minded person to churn out shapes, I'll admit that. But FEA, DEA, and CFD modelling is such a complex exercise that you very much need to know what you're doing in order to get a realistic result. Even the most simple simulation for static stress on a bolt or structural member, involves a huge number "assumptions" for the designer to manage in order to get an accurate result. If you bring material contact, or even worse, impacts and kinematic complexity to your simulation you're in for hours or days of tedious specification, review, trials, evaluation etc to validate parts of your model before you're ready to think about running the full simulation.
||The idea could very much work as a way to integrate more complexity, playability and player immersion into the "game universe". But all that someone like NASA is really going to get from this would be some interesting novel concepts, not "designs".