General Discussion

QUACKCAST 166 and 168 - Mecha and weapons in comics and other media
ozoneocean at 10:30PM, May 4, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
For this Quackcast THIS WEEk please tell me about your opinions on making up weapons or mecha for comics.
 
You can talk about the stuff in games, movies, anime, whatvere!
 
i.e.
- Do you have mecha or weapons in your comic?
- Do you think mecha or weapons should reference real life versions?
- How far over-the-top do you go?
- Does badly designed mecha or weapons in media take you out of the suspension of disbeleif?
- How far should you go in designing weapons or mecha for your project? - Lots of research and design like Masumune Shirrow, or just copy bits and pieces of whatever looks cool in other movies?
 
My own position is that looking cool is important, but if you're doing something that's fairly series you should do enough R&D to know how it should work, because the more it looks like it works the more beleivable and cool it will look in your project. And knowing how something should work makes you use it better in your story.
If you don't do any R&D you risk looking a fool by copying someone else's bad mistakes, or looking like a lame copycat by not doing anything original. (lots of bad me-too mecha anime fits into that catagory).
Going over the top for something fun and silly is a different matter. In that case I think you should copy stuff from other media and shouldn't care at all about how things are supposed to work so you can make it as gloriously crazy as possible.
 
bravo1102 at 8:44AM, May 5, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
My biggest problem is when portrayed weapons systems don't work they way they do in real life.  Too many seemingly indestructible types who would get blown away by a fifty caliber machine gun let alone an RPG rocket.

I dealt with this in the escalation of each generation of robofemoids in Attack of the Robofemoids.  At first they were bullet proof but lots of bullets slowed them down and made them useless.  Then they were fully bullet proof but a shotgun or heavy machine gun could take one out let alone an RPG.  Then the aliens upped the ante and they were fully proof against everything… almost.  They can still be killed by a round right through the open eye because there just is no way to make the eye projectile proof.  Then in the sequel they meet up with beam weapons which just to be different I had all designed to look like antique weapons like flintlocks or colt revolvers.  No attempt at HIGH TECH but retro nostalgia. 

I like weapons to work like they're supposed to not the ridiculous way almost all movies have them work.  Might as well go for Hot Shots! Part Deux where the hero just grabbed a bunch of bullets from a box and threw them and all the baddies twisted around trying to outcool the guy next to him in how he “died”  And then where does all the brass shot off go?



And I feel mecha is one of the most over-used tropes ever.  I try not to watch anything with mecha made after 1990 or so when it all became so devivitive of what came before and nearly interchangeable.  One series might as well be another.  
ozoneocean at 6:07AM, May 6, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
Bravo-
By “mecha”, I mean that as how it has come to be used these days, in that “mecha” means any mechanical system, from a gun, to a respirator, car, jet, train, tank, APC, robot, or armoured battlesuit. :)
 
- so I will rephrase that part of the question:
How do you go about designing mechanical objects and weapons systems for your work?
 
I agree with you when you say weapons should work like their real world counterparts.
It anoys me when everything is magically bulletproof, and yet fully armoured tanks generally explode when somebody sneezes at them.
I Pinky TA I thought about that aspect: the armoured trompers are generally proof against a lot of small arms, but a 50 cal machine gun will dig into their armour and go through their viewports. Shells pierce right through them. Their guns run out of amunition. And a bit part of the plot in the last finshed chapter during Pinky's fight with Ace was the fact they both had almost no rockets and had to make each one count- BUT they couldn't just use them willynilly; they had to be far enough away no to kill themselves in the process…
Also, being inside the Trompers was no proof against injury.
 
I strongly disagree with your opinion of mecha not being much good since the ‘90s;
There are all the copycat battlesuits, sure, but there’s also some well thought out, ingenious stuff too. The Ghost In The Shell series is proof of that.
Mecha definitely is not just about copying from other anime. That is a big part of it, but a lot is also designed from the ground up.
 
 
joe5art at 10:50AM, May 6, 2014
(online)
posts: 19
joined: 5-23-2011
I've been doing a fair amount of Sci-fi. Some equipment is based off of other science fiction. A lot of the story is parody of the original series. I've been looking up drawing and images of the orginal designs and have been making changes to them also. I have some troopers which are a highbread of the storm troopers and the clone troopers. SO they are unique but the sorce is clear.
I have been looking at a lot of construction machinery and lego set and toy with moving points to get a better understanding of how to build stuff. The Mecha in particular. You wouldn't be able to build a working version based of the designs but you could do a movable toy. All the joints and stuff would work. It makes it more real and solid. 
I doing humor not hard Sci-fi but I want stuff worked out enough that it dosn't detract from the comic.
bravo1102 at 7:07AM, May 7, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
I'm a boring traditionalist then.  My favorite anime series remains Girls und Panzer because it's about tanks and you get in there and they work precisely the way they did and do.  I'm jaded because I read all the SF back in the day about battlesuits going back to Starship Troopers.  Heinlein's book was about hard battlesuits.  Forever War was also about soldiers in battle suits.  There was also the excellent Hammer's Slammers about tankers who made a living smashing battlesuits.  I know that a good tank crew would make mincemeat out of any battlesuit that could be designed unless there was a direct interface between man and machine.  I also know that you might as well put tracks or wheels on the thing and not legs unless it's merely an enhanced suit of armor 

Legs will work like ED-209 and just not be able to take all the various types of scenary well.  You need somehting that will go through terrain like tracks.  I'm not 100% sure and I hope I'm wrong.  Love to see footage of a battle mech prototype eating up ancient M1A2 Abrams'.  I've studied tank design for 30 years.  Keep it simple..  Why do you want a more complex design that takes lots of gears and tech to work when there's a simple and easy off-the-shelf piece of equipment with a 100 year track record.  I believe You'll never have walking battlesuits except in fiction because of the “cool” factor.  Jerry Pournelle has discussed this in the There will be War series.  That's why Hammer's Slammers is based on tanks not mechs.

i have done suits.  The suits depicted in Battle of the Robofemoids (what the Aordians wear) are designeed to be part of the body with detailed interfaces but not a full suit.  It is heavy battle armor with technology to allow full movement, even enhanaced manuverability, because manuverability equals survivability.  There are pieces to up armor the system to allow heavier weapons and protection but its all interchangable bits to add to a simple weapon system.  Nothing complex no walking robots about it. 
But you know what, that's merely my opinion and I am hoping I will be proven wrong.  I want to see a walking mech in combat footage one day.    But instead I see something scarier.  Someone making a person into a battlesuit using genetics or cellular modification like the robofemoids themselves.  Making a person the battle suit rather than a battle suit to encase the person.  It could be done with modifying cell structure or even injecting nanobots that would build an armored matrix directly in the skin.  Add the hardwiring a weapons system into the head and enhancing muscles and flesh like the robofemoids.  They could look like naked people but be dangerous weapons systems.  Why build a huge mech when you merely tune up a person to make one.  And even program the brain to make a soldier as written in Harlan Ellison's Soldier.  The whole idea of turning a person into the weapon system and stripping away their identiy is an interesting theme to me because in a very crude form that's what military training is all about.  
KimLuster at 12:56PM, May 7, 2014
(online)
posts: 69
joined: 5-15-2012
I have little to add to this, as I love science and sci-fi, but I tend towards the theoretical/philosophical aspects of science, and not so much the nuts and bolts, but this is fascinating stuff - keep talking!
HippieVan at 4:10PM, May 7, 2014
(online)
posts: 2,469
joined: 3-15-2008
So I mostly popped in here just to say that every time I see ozone's tankasaurus rex thingies I'm blown away by them. So well drawn!
 
I know basically nothing about mechanics, so as long as something looks or sounds vaguely plausible I'm fine with it. I prefer it when my sci-fi/fantasy gets any mechanical explanations out of the way quickly, to be honest. I do really like the appearance of big machines like boats, airplanes, trains, spaceships and so on, though. A comic could definitely throw in some beautifully-designed but completely impractical machines without bothering me.
 
I think I read once that LeVar Burton had a hard time memorizing his lines as Geordi Laforge on Star Trek, because they gave him so much mechanical giberish to say and - being an actor and not an engineer - it meant nothing to him.
Duchess of Friday Newsposts and the holy Top Ten
Have a comic milestone, a community project or some comic-related news you’d like to see in
a newspost? Send it to me via PQ or at hippievannews(at)gmail.com!
ozoneocean at 8:48PM, May 7, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
Hahaha, Tankasuarus REX! :D
 
Thanks Joe, Kim, Hippie ^_^
 
——————-
 
I'll have to disagree with you on plauability Bravo.
Personally I can't see much sense for a giant man-shaped battle-mecha, BUT a man sized (maybe 7 or 8 feet all), armoured battlesuit with augmented strength and sensors, networking, and the ability to carry a heavy weapon system is what most modern militaries would LOVE and the has been actively working towards that for a long time.
Those WOULD kill current tanks because there's no armour known that can't be defeated and with the suit's augmented strength they'd be able to crarry enough misles to do the job, meanwhile they're small and nible enough not to be a traget (better able to hide behind cover). Their armour only has to be good enough for light machine gun rounds and shrapnel because it'd be meant for protecting against infrantry.
 
For bigger mecha, well the bird-leg model looks cool and it's a proven model in nature, it works well for high speed, but multi-legged models seems to be the way things are going when it comes to heavy machinary. The clear advantage over wheels and tracks is that it increases the range of types of terrain you can handle- meaning you can more closely match the sorst of ground and onsicles humans can tackle- which is why the US DARPA is working on four legged heavy transport drones.
 
On that note, the giant four legged AT-AT transports in Starwars have no justification at all. They're completely impracicital and pointless. They're slow and stand up so high that you can't miss them as targets, they're only defended from the front end… They have antigrav tech in that world so they don't even need legs anyway… but then you'd be more likely to bombard the Hoth base from space and then send troops down drirectly in armourd shuttles anyway, to capture inteligence etc.
 
————–
 
But things don't have to be completely plausable, only look that way. :)
-Hippie:
Big, massive machines, like the piantings of Chris Foss are some of the things that really worked to draw me into the fan fantasy of SciFi mecha!
 
bravo1102 at 11:44AM, May 8, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
ozoneocean wrote:
But things don't have to be completely plausable, only look that way. :)
-Hippie:
Big, massive machines, like the piantings of Chris Foss are some of the things that really worked to draw me into the fan fantasy of SciFi mecha!
Precisely.  Always loved Chris Foss. (no relation to Christopher Foss editor of Jane's Intelligence review and Jane's Armour and Artillery who agrees with me about the whole legs versus tracks and wheels thing but legs are just so cool.

A guy with a pintle mounted 50 caliber machine gun will take down any personal battle armor currently possible or even plausible for the next few decades, let alone a 120mm armor piercing round. Little guy in the suit has to get somehwere close to the tank to let fly his missiles and a good tank crew would never let him get anywhere near them.  You can put a lot more armor to make a tank kill proof can you can on a guy for the foreseeable future.  Current battle reports in Iraq on tank survivablility bear that out. You can't armor a guy like an M1A2 TUSK or even an MRAP.  But it is plausible and really cool in fiction.  

Right now the infantryman in Afghanistan is equipped more like a Space Marine from Alien than a Vietnam grunt.  The crap from that movie exists now and is used now.  What bugged me abo ut the movie version of Starship Troopers is that the guys there had tactics and equipment more like Zulu than Blackhawk Down or even Saving Priavte Ryan.  Then in Warhammer 40K the battle suits merely line up like 18th century infantry and mow each other down.  What?  I looked at that game and at another board with an American Civil War battle set up and it was the exact same formations and tactics.  Huh?  Think the designers missed something with the evolution of tactics and fire and movement…  like everything between 1845 and 1945.

That galls me that comics and movies get the weapons right but the tactics are all wrong. It's one thing to get the mechanics right but quite another to get how the weapon is actually used on the battlefield right.  But then choreographing a battle for a movie or even a comic is hard.  And then there's people who can't write a good scene with people punching each other let alone any weapons. 
Skullbie at 9:13AM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 4,776
joined: 12-9-2007
I love mecha with a healthy dose of reality. This can be anything from the police setting in patlabor to the fantasitcal mechs in aura battler dunbine, basically; the mechs fit in with the world in a believable way.

I feel no love for stories where some little kid finds the militaries non-password protected prototype that even the creators have no idea what its capabilities are. If it actually fits in with the rest of the world I'm seeing, even if its fantasy powered, i'm happy with it. Even your weapon powered by CHAOS ENERGY.
EXCEPT pouches. -_- Mechs with pouches are my biggest turn-off ever. Seriously someone please tell me how he can even see those straps let alone unbuckle them?

But yeah i'm totally onboard the power armor love! Stuff like bubblegum crisis with a bunch of sexy vigilantes or full-on military use like some iron man comic plots is awesome and the only excuse I think anyone has for a humanoid robot over a death tank.  What do you guys think of these designs:


It's a toy line i'm collecting, I suspect the tank might make bravos eye twitch but the power armor prototype is some of the best i've seen. Also sorry for the pic dump i really love mechs
 
Skullbie at 9:32AM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 4,776
joined: 12-9-2007
bravo1102 wrote:
That galls me that comics and movies get the weapons right but the tactics are all wrong. It's one thing to get the mechanics right but quite another to get how the weapon is actually used on the battlefield right.  But then choreographing a battle for a movie or even a comic is hard.  And then there's people who can't write a good scene with people punching each other let alone any weapons. 
This! I'll take an anime or comic where they actually think over cool mechs anyday. This kind of plaugues armarauders, which is a rare series that has 95% mech battle screentime…only it suffers from everything you just said.
Though despite saying this I hated full metal panic which was a rare anime that relied on tactics from its main character. Hmm. Can't win em all.
 
ozoneocean at 10:49AM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
Great post Skull. I admired those mech pics you posted on FB and had no idea that was you.
 One of my fave things about the Patlabour mech you posted first is that the design of a lot of its shape comes from the Valkyrie mechs in Macros, particularly the shape of the head and shoulders. That becames a popular trope in Japanese mecha design and continued into generations of other anime. There's even a film by Niel Bokamp (District 9) coming out where a robot has the famous “bunny ears”.
 
The Acid Rain mechs and very cool and functional looking. I too hate that trope where the child finds an advanced mecha and becomes its expert inseperable pilot, that and the no tactics thing are a pain. I remember in the old voltron series no matter what they did with their mecha it was all pointless till they used that big stupid sword. That's an extreme example I suppose…
 
Gaseraki is a good example of something that looks really plauseable, even with tactics that look plausable, while not being plausable at all. The tank-like mecha battlesuits exist in today's world that includes ordinary tanks and all the rest but the tech leap that allwos them to be so powerful is never even hinted at, we're just left to imagine it has something to do with some magical “Kai” thing.
Ther's the famous scene where they're shown battling and destroying a tank collumn, but all they do is fire off a bunch of missles, which infantry or helicopters could have done just as well, and then they run in and fight the tanks up closeand the tanks are no match for them, despite having MUCH thicker armour, more crew to react quicker and know what's going on better, and being far better armed.
Tactically they'd only ever engauge tanks from a distance, behind heavy cover, in a situation where it wasn't appropriate for choppers, other tanks, or unarmoured infantry.
 
I think the key mistake is making any weapon the “ultimate” weapon, in a one-size-fits-all sort of way for any situation and against any oposition. All weapons systems have strengths and weaknesses and specific contexts where you use them and others where you don't.
 
Skullbie at 11:54AM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 4,776
joined: 12-9-2007
@Ozone
I just looked up the movie you mentioned. District 9 had some very stylish mechs and weapons. In fact i've been tempted to pick up their heavily discounted prop replicas…shame the movie was so bad I cant bring myself to own stuff from it. But anyways chappie looks interesting! I have an extreme weakness for the bunny and cat ears thing so i'm cool with it being literally everywhere.
But here is the armaurader mech i mentioned before, there's not an ear in sight on any of the designs.

They actually did some extensive research into designing mechs people would care about. It's from the guy who did the thundercats 2011 reboot, so basically tons of style and marketing…while falling short on plot.  But yeah they actually got sentinel, a japanese company with high-end 100$+ lines, to produce their toyline despite being a webcomic with 3 issues so far. That should tell you how good at marketing he is.

I've never seen gasaraki, all I remember is ads for it with a somber theme on ADV dvds back in the day. I hear you on the ‘ultimate’ weapon thing, but since i started hanging out on mecha related forums there are a lot of people who hate stuff like 8th ms team because they weren't special ‘newtype’ characters with overpowered mechs. Basically people actually disliked it because it didn't have some catch-all power fantasy.
 
bravo1102 at 12:37PM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
A shout out to El Cid who in Death P*rn has a great scene with a nebbish grabbing an M16 and trying to kill everyone at full auto.  Except he couldn't get anythign but a *click* because he hadn't locked and loaded the weapon.  Turn off the safety all you want, unless an M16 has a round in the chamber it ain't doing anything.  Got to cock it first.  Pull the cocking handle to the rear and slam it forward to chamber a round… Lock and load! Dose of realism that wasn't the stupid cop-out “Oh take off the safety”

Flip off the saftey but if no round is chambered. *click* *click*  Hey no bullets coming out! Dumbass.

Back in the day I built the above model.  A 1/1 scale completely operational plastic model of an M16.   I know where every spring goes.
El Cid at 12:43PM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
I tend to be of the “copy what's already out there/in development” crowd, because I'm not much of an engineer myself! I don't think that's a better or wose approach than just making stuff up completely, but it's what I'm most comfortable doing. There are some really gifted artists out there who design mind-blowing technology for their comics and, whether it will work in the real world or not, it's fun to look at. My only issue would be if it's not internally consistent with the laws of its own universe, or just doesn't make logical sense.
 
The big mecha suits are good eye candy, but I'm skeptical about anybody ever deploying something like that in real life. It's basically just a jazzed up Medieval suit of armor. We figured out hundreds of years ago that was the wrong way to go, and it still holds true. Why build a multi-billion dollar armored suit for one soldier when all it takes is one guy with a $250 RPG to bring him down? In my opinion, the future of weapons is smaller, faster, smarter, cheaper. A mech suit is bigger, slower, dumber, more expensive, even compared to 20th century technology. If you had infinite money to spend, maybe you could use something like that, but in a real army if I can use my limited resources to buy one mecha suit or a swarm of cheap drones with micro nukes, I'm taking the swarm without thinking twice.
 
Of course, for a comic, I guess the mecha does look cooler!
 
How important is R&D? That's a good question, because even if you do a ton of research, there will always be plenty of people who know a lot more about this stuff than you do, and the internet's so full of know-it-alls who just LIVE to pick other people's work apart. So don't bother trying to impress those people. You will fail. Don't sink your comic fighting a losing battle against the Google geniuses of Internet Land. Just learn enough to make it plausible for your average reader. Know the basics and the terminology, if it's integral to the comic or the dialogue. If you need to slip some techspeak into the dialogue, or there's a specific scenario you plan on throwing in, it may also be worthwhile to seek out somebody with an engineering background to give you some pointers.
El Cid at 12:53PM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
@Bravo: Actually, remember I *did* end up going with the cop-out “it's on safe!” scenario and you totally called me on it. But I kinda felt like I had to go that route because a webcomic is just not the place for giving a lesson on firearm mechanics to the uninitiated. (“Hey, you sure you know how to use that rifle?” “Sure do. Read all about it in ‘Deah P*rn!’”)
bravo1102 at 3:11PM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
El Cid wrote:
 
and the internet's so full of know-it-alls who just LIVE to pick other people's work apart. So don't bother trying to impress those people. You will fail. Don't sink your comic fighting a losing battle against the Google geniuses of Internet Land. Just learn enough to make it plausible for your average reader. 
@Bravo: Actually, remember I *did* end up going with the cop-out “it's on safe!” scenario and you totally called me on it. But I kinda felt like I had to go that route because a webcomic is just not the place for giving a lesson on firearm mechanics to the uninitiated. (“Hey, you sure you know how to use that rifle?” “Sure do. Read all about it in ‘Deah P*rn!’”)
In model building we call them ACE's. I've been fighting the Arm Chair Experts (ACE) at model shows for decades.   
*“Hey it sin't like that! This internet article says…”
“Uh-huh.  I served on a tank we did it that way. Oh and there should be a handle there.”
“Pictures don't show it!”
“Yeah, but I used to hang my helmet on it so it is there…”

Technical is booorrrriiiiinnng.  Do I really want to depict precisely how to do everything?  Am I writing the manual here or am I doing a story?  Only enough for the story and then little glimpses of technique for color.  It's especially good when you can use a minus of a piece of equipment to show how a character deals with stuff.  Is he the kind of guy who panics when the clip won't go in or does he trick Germans into thinking he's out by having his buddy short load his stripper clips? (Referenceing the function of the M1 to loudly eject the stripper clip when the weapon was out.  The clang would warn the Germans that the American was busy reloading and could not shoot)
Or the trick unique to Lee-Enfield bolt-action rifles that let you shot it from the hip with a mere flick of the thumb to cycle the bolt.  Or what the hell is a bolt action rifle versus an assault rifle versus a self-loader.  Doing a war story? Know what the weapons are and what they can do and what they usually did.  But only put it in the story if it adds to the story, not to burden it with technical detail in an attempt to imporess the reader.   Bernard Cornwell is especially good at depicting how weapons work in combat and he keeps it facinating because it's a matter of life and death in the story. 
cdmalcolm1 at 6:49PM, May 9, 2014
(online)
posts: 125
joined: 8-21-2012
Oddly enough that is what my comic is going to be about. My story is how mecha and hi tech weapons came to be. I like the idea of mecha and weapons tech in stories that have them. However, there are none that explain how they came to as a full blown story. Only history. I do base my tech and magic off real science. This way it can be explained for those who ask.

I prefer tech and weapons to be close to real life or science so I can have an understanding how powerful they are.

As far as how over the top I go is based on science. It would also have to be on how advance the nation or race and even species are.
revilanct
If it's action based and rendered right, I could stand there and watch it. Like the movie pacific rim. I know right now we can't do that but I looks possible.

Because my story is based on how mecha came to be. I some what base my tech on what others have done for their tech. However, I do use a lot of my ideas on how those tech, through trial and error in the story, of how the future techs came to be. Sometimes added innovation from the story help craft tech to be. Basically I try to explain to myself how other tech creators' came up with their tech. My story is just a general idea on how giant robots came to be the norm. In the mean while, it all starts with government.

ozoneocean at 3:41AM, May 10, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
@Skull- A webcomic? o_O
Those designs are impressive! I'd love to make toys out of my stuff one day. I was approached by a company a while ago, but that was only for Pinky, not the mecha. I was just too busy at the time to come up with good 3D drawings- (you pay them a certain amout to produce a run of figures for you to sell)
I'm going to look into armarauders.
PitFace recomended Armored Trooper Votoms to me, which is what they based most of the mech designs off for when they made Heavy Gear (tabletop game with figures, also computer game series and 3D cartoon series). I couldn't find a good quality streaming site for it though.
 
@Malcom- That's an interesting idea, I'd doing something like that in the latest chapter of Pinky TA.
 
@ElCid-
The knights in armour analogy is wrong actually. I've been looking over that aspect of history a lot latelly. All warfare is a continuois game of Rock Paper Scisors, things develop to counter other things and other things counter those. Armour had various high points over the centrues, right up to today: Modern soldiers wear more armour now than ever in the last hundred years.
Armour on troops only has to protect against the most common weapn that the other side uses. Bravo mentions a pintal mounted 50cal and you mention anti armour RPGs-  both spurious. Pintel mounted 50cals are deadly to all troops anyway, so what? And you can only carry a very limited amount of RPG rounds, if every trrop you face can only be killed by them then you have to make every single shot count… that means your side is dead. You can't even carry that many grenaade rounds AND expect to be that accurate with them.
I think current high capacity anti-infantry armour tech focusses on flechette rounds- They fire a thin penetrating spike. The disadvantage being that they don't produce much of a wound.
 
The point is though that there's always a balancing act and you can realistically justify anything.
 
last edited on May 10, 2014 3:49AM
JoeL_CQB at 4:23AM, May 10, 2014
(online)
posts: 546
joined: 4-17-2007
bravo1102 wrote:
A shout out to El Cid who in Death P*rn has a great scene with a nebbish grabbing an M16 and trying to kill everyone at full auto.  Except he couldn't get anythign but a *click* because he hadn't locked and loaded the weapon.  Turn off the safety all you want, unless an M16 has a round in the chamber it ain't doing anything.  Got to cock it first.  Pull the cocking handle to the rear and slam it forward to chamber a round… Lock and load! Dose of realism that wasn't the stupid cop-out “Oh take off the safety”

Flip off the saftey but if no round is chambered. *click* *click*  Hey no bullets coming out! Dumbass.

Back in the day I built the above model.  A 1/1 scale completely operational plastic model of an M16.   I know where every spring goes.
not to mention, an AR can't go into safe if the hammer hasn't been cocked. so it is plausible that the gun was stuck on “safe”. little things. :S
i remember when i was starting out doing comics in high school, i tried making up my own guns. they ended not looking right. so then i started copying off images from counter strike. later i got into airsoft, so I started to collect a few guns, so I have them for references.
on topic: for ghost operators, I did some research. I remember in earlier versions of the comic i had the bad guy's using G36's. later I was watching an episode of Future Weapons on the Discovery Channel, and it was about Magpul developing the Masada (now called the Remington ACR) and one the features they had for the masada, was that the lower reciever and barrel can be swapped out to use 7.62x32mm rounds, which was the same rounds that AK's used. the idea behind that was that spec ops can use the Masada platform, which functioned like an AR, but it can use AK magazines and rounds. therefore, they operatives wouldn't leave a noticable trace behind, as opposed if they were to use an AR and leave 5.56 casings behind. the other part of the idea, most of the US special forces are trained on the AR platform, and if they were to pick up an AK, they wouldn't be as effective since everything is different on the AK. (where the selector switch, charging handle, and other small details are located)
so after watching that, it got me thinking, if a groupd of spec ops were to be behind enemy lines, how would they be able to stay “invisible.” so i looked at the G36, which uses the 5.56 rounds, but it had a butt ugly propriatary magazine. AR's also use 5.56 rounds, but they used STANAG mags, which is the ones that AR's use, but they are also used on other guns. so I later switched it so the bad guys use the HK416, which is another AR platform, but within the HK family. another thought was the idea of grabbing a magazine that didn't fit in your gun, but had the same rounds, so you had to unload the bullets from the original magazine, and then load the bullets into the compatible magazine. and all of that while you're underpressure/getting shot at/on the run. I have the protagonists, use the many varients of AR's that exist. I guess is my way of doing the rule of cool. “check out this gun, its that same as that one, but it looks different.”
and that was basically it. although i didn't really follow that research all the way through. At the start of the comic, Kayli and Elise are using KAC PDW's which don't use 5.56 rounds. They are however designed based on the AR platform. at the time I thought they used the same rounds. I figured i'll just go with it, and then later change the guns to an AR platform. also normal people probably wouldn't question it.
tl:dr my research process goes, “is it STANAG compatible? yes/no?”
also I have thrown in guns that use the 7.62x51mm because some guns built for sniping use those rounds, and it is common enough that it is not a wildcat calibur.
on a tangent, it bugs me when video games, which are supposedly set in a realworld military conflict setting, throws in several guns that no current military use due to multiple reasons. i'm looking at you Modern Warfare 2.
also on a silly note, Polish JW GROM use the desert eagle as a side arm. yes, the giant hand cannon.
El Cid at 6:57PM, May 10, 2014
(online)
posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
@ElCid-
The knights in armour analogy is wrong actually.
   
Well that was very strongly worded. I'm sure you've got something authoritative to back it up.
I've been looking over that aspect of history a lot latelly. All warfare is a continuois game of Rock Paper Scisors, things develop to counter other things and other things counter those. Armour had various high points over the centrues, right up to today: Modern soldiers wear more armour now than ever in the last hundred years.
Armour on troops only has to protect against the most common weapn that the other side uses. Bravo mentions a pintal mounted 50cal and you mention anti armour RPGs-  both spurious. Pintel mounted 50cals are deadly to all troops anyway, so what? And you can only carry a very limited amount of RPG rounds, if every trrop you face can only be killed by them then you have to make every single shot count… that means your side is dead. You can't even carry that many grenaade rounds AND expect to be that accurate with them.
I think current high capacity anti-infantry armour tech focusses on flechette rounds- They fire a thin penetrating spike. The disadvantage being that they don't produce much of a wound.
 
The point is though that there's always a balancing act and you can realistically justify anything
   
Okay, so you don't. Well, even if you don't respect my opinion, I'll still respect yours.
 
I was almost tempted to write a long-winded response, but really all you need to do is go back and re-read my previous post. And try *actually reading what I wrote* this time, without running it through your Straw Man filter like you always do. Mecha suits are impractical for the same reasons suits of armor became impractical. They're still good eye candy for comics, and I'm sure it's possible to imagine a fictional scenario where something like that may come in handy. Bravo mentioned Heinlein's ‘Starship Troopers,’ which I guess is one of those scenarios. If I were going to go crawling into a nest filled with giant man-eating bugs, a powered armor suit might make sense (as would a giant can of bug spray!)
last edited on May 10, 2014 7:03PM
El Cid at 7:07PM, May 10, 2014
(online)
posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
@Joel: Wow, that's getting pretty deep into details! Do any of your readers notice that kind of thing, or do you mostly just do it for you?
JoeL_CQB at 11:38PM, May 10, 2014
(online)
posts: 546
joined: 4-17-2007
El Cid wrote:
@Joel: Wow, that's getting pretty deep into details! Do any of your readers notice that kind of thing, or do you mostly just do it for you?
mostly for myself, i would be pretty surprised if my readers would have noticed.
another thing that bugged me before was in a fantasy made up setting, how would i explain the firearms existing on that plane.
then i decided to “screw it” because i felt like i was giving way too much thought into it. got to balance the research and fun.
ozoneocean at 4:12AM, May 11, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
El Cid- there was no straw man attack there,  I think you took that a bit personally. 
The idea that knight armour became useless is a very old notion based on many misconceptions. 
The peak of the plate armour era was around the 15th century when the armour was at its best and most protective, but it was also dying out because styles of warfare were changing, not because it couldn't protect adequetly or was impractical in any way.
 
So that was when the fully covered suits of plate bowed out. But armour continued to be used without cease, mainly as full breast and back plates, with armoured gauntlets, neck protection and a helmet. Even into the 19th century we still had heavy cavalry with helmets and breast plates being a standard in every country.
Into the first world war there were even cuirassier units there, not to mention the helmets and breastplates worn by tank crews.
 
Of the top of my head I could not come up with armoured examples for WW2 or Korea, apart from developments in protective helmets.
In Vietnam however many US troops wore armour in the form of bullet resistant vests in addition to their helmets. That trend continued, now the soldiwrs and police forces of many countries as well as the US wear asvanced forms of personal body armour, including the ever present helmets of course. The most protective form is the anti bomb armour, but due to its size and weight it is obviously not practical for troops, although if they had a powered exoskeleton (such as in development for the US army), they could wear that or even thicker, heavier armour.
 
The misconception is that armour must protect against anything or it's no good. That's not the purpose of any armour though, it's meant to make dangerous situations just a bit more survivable, and that is why it is still in use and why its use will continue: most definitely into the era where soldiers will have mechnically assisted movement. Battlesuits are not just practical and plausible, they're a goal of many defence development programs.
 
bravo1102 at 4:51AM, May 11, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
The book you want is this:
 http://www.amazon.com/Flak-Jackets-Twentieth-Century-Military/dp/0850455693

Some of the plate pages are on line so here's the 1950-s1960s page

World War II.  Bomber crews wore flak jackets now you know where the term came from.
It was for Anti-aircraft fire or FLAK.

World War One.  Usually for trench raiders.  The stuff worn by WWI tank crews was actually for protection against their own tanks.  Splinters and flying bolts when their boiler plate armor got hit.  

Osprey Men at Arms series to the resuce again.  Ron Volstad is among the best military ilustrator out there today and he mostly speicalizes in 20th Century.  He's among the foremost experts on WWII camouflage uniforms which is an immense subject.  They were everywhere but as War Movies and comics insist all Germans wore high boots and pleated pockets, throughout the war well most of us have no clue what real German soldiers looked like.
bravo1102 at 5:17AM, May 11, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
JoeL_CQB wrote:

 not to mention, an AR can't go into safe if the hammer hasn't been cocked. so it is plausible that the gun was stuck on “safe”. little things. :S
All those years in the army it's drilled into me whenever you slap in a magazine to lock and load, release the bolt and and put it on safe.  You don't think about it you just do it.  There's this cog and spring inside the action that controls that.  As for Special Forces not taking up Ak series… they're trained in them.  US Special Forces are cross-trained in several weapons systems, so they can train others in the most common weapon in the area.  Trained to point where it is second nature.  

Even a dumass tanker like me can pick up an AK and figure out where all the parts are and how to operate one in a few seconds. Slap in the magazine, cock it and fire.  That switch is the fire selector switch and that one in front of the magazine is the magazine release.  Military training and weapons familarity classes until its second nature.  We aren't super technical except wehre it concerns field stripping and cleaning to keep the weapon functioning.  Other than that just what makes it and keeps it working.

 Though only trained on a Colt .45 automatic and M9 Beretta all other automatic pistols are similar enough in construction and operation that I can field strip them after a few minutes familarization let alone shoot and reload them.  Though only trained on the M240 FN machine gun, most other Western machine guns are similar enough that I can operate them and even field strip them.  It only took me 20 minutes to figure out the M60 machine gun.  But a cover, feed tray and cocking handle are all pretty uniform among machine guns.  But handing an automatic pistol or machine gun to joe Average he'd have no idea what it was other than a hunk of metal that fires bullets. It's a GUN!  And like I sid I'm only a dumbass tanker not a high speed Special forces or even a weapons specialist.  I so wanted to go to that school.  Really tear down a weapon to see what makes it work like I had with that M16 model.

My point?  There is terchnical information and there is operational information.  Technical is neat for a waepons specialist gunsmith, but all a soldier needs is operational to shot and keep functioning.  And flipping between dissimilar weapons systems (like AR to AK or even FN and HK) ain't that hard if you are well trained on one or two weapons systems.  But like I said I was only a dumbass tanker and certified army instructor hardly an expert on anything.  Wasn't even a master gunner just an instructor.  So technical questions left me befuddled but I could make the damn thing work and keep it funcitoning.
JoeL_CQB at 11:00AM, May 11, 2014
(online)
posts: 546
joined: 4-17-2007
@bravo- not saying that you were wrong, but i will agree in that scenario, the guy was a dumbass. although oddly enough not everybody knows how to operate a gun other than to point and shoot. i've had roomates who wanted to do some plinking, load up the magazine, go out to the back yard, and go “why isn't shooting?”
 
i rewatched the episode that i mentioned. and the host says the masada weapon system is neat for somebody who would feel more comfortable with a weapon that they are familiar with. I can agree that our special forces are trained to use multiple weapon systems, but some of them may prefer one system over the other. at the end of the day, it probably comes down to preference, unless it's a life or death situation.
 
also while reading into articles about the Army finding a replacement for the M4, “how familiar it is to an M4” always comes up in the discussion. i'm just saying that its probably something to put into consideration.
 
i just took one statement from a show and went to town.
last edited on May 11, 2014 11:01AM
ozoneocean at 9:55PM, May 11, 2014
(online)
posts: 25,115
joined: 1-2-2004
This proved too long for Banes and I to do it all in one go for the Quackcast, so we're doing a two parter! :)
 
One of the things we talked about is that even though people advocate strongly for their ideas and positions (especially me!), there really is no one right answer because this is ultimately about creating stuff for fiction, so autocannons firing hello kitty dolls could be justified just as well if you'd like.
I also like the way this kind of discussion helps us refine and revaluate our own ideas when we have to test them against what others have said.
 
Good pics of the WW2 armour Bravo!
 
———
 
Going back to mecha, it's interesting to see the linneage of copying of designs.
Macross was massively popular when it came out and influenced a lot of shows with the transforming jets and other mecha- Mospeeded and Sothern Cross (that all together became Robotech) followed the transforming battle mecha idea, but did all their own design work to make them.
Later stuff coppied the “bunny eared” Macross batloids though, like Patlabour.
 
The most famous Western Mecha game/book series was Mechwarrior, that stole designs wholesale from Macross. The designs they came up with themselves tended to be amaturish and awful in every way. But it seems that whole universe was developed around the fact that they thought the Aime mecha looked cool and they wanted to make their own universe based around that.
So maybe that approach is responsible for how badly they used that mecha tactically and how dodgy the designs were for their world: because the best of them were designed for a completely different world view a different relaity and different warefare style? i.e Macross is a world where the tech was influenced by advanced alien tech and machines were designed as supersized infantry to fight against giant humanoid alien men…
 
Heavy Gear is another Western series that became popular and influential through fiction, games, and animation. The designs there were lifted from Armoured Trooper Votoms as well as inlfunced by many other animes. SO again you have the same issues: are impracticalities with their use of the mecha the fault of the mecha or the fact that it was all originally developed for someone else's world where it DID fit?
 
bravo1102 at 6:49AM, May 12, 2014
(online)
posts: 3,409
joined: 1-21-2008
JoeL_CQB wrote:
also while reading into articles about the Army finding a replacement for the M4, “how familiar it is to an M4” always comes up in the discussion. i'm just saying that its probably something to put into consideration.
 

 Read this book: 
http://www.amazon.com/American-Rifle-Biography-Alexander-Rose/dp/0553384384
http://www.alexrose.com/american-rifle/
As for the replacement for the M4, yeah that's a military consideration.  Always has been.  You have a whole force to retrain can't introduce an entirely new weapon out of the blue.  Most presonal weapons develop in progression so you have the various Springfield muskets evolve from smoothbore flintlocks to trapdoors until the huge revolution of the Krag-Jorgenson bolt action.  But the US wanted a Mauser action so in came M1903 Springfield.  Then when it came time to replace the M1 Garand it was a progressive development; the M14 until a lot of field exercises and lobbying won them over to the Armalite.  

It took a decade to overcome resistence for the L1A1 FAL to replace the venerable Lee-enfield.  Then another 40 years to adapt the IW which had been developed and ready for adoption before the L1A1!  Now that was a revolution going from a bolt-action to a self-loader.  But more rare in the world of military firearms than you'd think.  Large militaries don't want soldiers to go to bed with a bolt-action and wake up with bull-pup selfloader.  Lots of re-training.
last edited on May 12, 2014 6:50AM
El Cid at 8:45AM, May 12, 2014
(online)
posts: 973
joined: 5-4-2009
ozoneocean wrote:
El Cid- there was no straw man attack there,  I think you took that a bit personally.
 
No, Ozone, the way you phrased that was extremely rude and dismissive. I don't have an issue at all with you sharing your thoughts and opinions, but you can do so without being rude. Everyone else here seems more than capable of it. It's possible, I guess, that it wasn't intentional on your part.
ozoneocean wrote:
 …The misconception is that armour must protect against anything or it's no good. That's not the purpose of any armour though, it's meant to make dangerous situations just a bit more survivable, and that is why it is still in use and why its use will continue: most definitely into the era where soldiers will have mechnically assisted movement. Battlesuits are not just practical and plausible, they're a goal of many defence development programs.
 
And THERE is your straw man. No one here argued that *all* armor is useless because it doesn't protect against anything. If that's what you took away from my or anyone's post, then you just aren't giving other people enough credit. Modern armor has evolved to be lighter, smarter, cheaper than the bulky elaborate designs which peaked at the end of the Middle Ages. The powered armor concept goes the exact opposite direction as historical armor design has gone, and the opposite of any kind of smart engineering would suggest. You said so yourself: it won't offer much protection beyond small arms fire, so it's not that much better than traditional modern battlefield armor, only about a million times more expensive per soldier! So it's overkill for armor, and inefficient for transportation.
 
That doesn't mean that I'm saying people shouldn't use wildly imaginative weapon designs in their comics; I've used quite a few of them. My last comic had a big walking mecha-suit in it. But in that comic, it was owned by a megalomaniacal villain. I figure she could either afford to build one herself if she wanted it, or maybe it was some failed military prototype she bought off the black market. I could also see the design working maybe for an anthropoid robot (though I'm not sure what you'd use it for).
 
I could think of lots of fictional uses for impractical-but-cool speculative type vehicles. An alternate reality WWII where tanks were never invented, and instead they went with huge powered battle suits. Real warfare is full of crazy ideas that got tried out and didn't catch on. Or maybe a comic where some alternate reality or futuristic government invests tons of money in each soldier because they're no longer willing to accept human casualties (not a reach at all), thus leading to these monster mecha designs. And then these superpowered imperialist mechas face low-tech guerillas in a conflict which questions both the superiority of their technology and the morality of their cause? And the mechs may not be built by a government; it could be enthusiastic amateurs or nonaffiliated organizations building them. Tons of possibilities for realistic and thought-provoking use of weird tech.

Forgot Password
©2011 WOWIO, Inc. All Rights Reserved