Re: [gundam] Mobile suit mechanics


Mark Simmons (scorpio@best.com)
Fri, 12 Mar 1999 09:25:35 -0800


Doc asks,

>Just a query on how mobile suit pilots control their machines. Mobile
>suits closely mimic actual human movement. Is this programmed into the
>suit itself (as in, press a button marked "draw beam sabre" and the MS
>will automatically reach backward and grab the sabre's hilt)? Or do the
>pilots have to supply the actual reflexes for MS to act (ala the
>"neural-interface" used in Robotech/Macross or servos like those used in
>Daimos)?

  Well, this one just _keeps_ coming up! :-)

  Short answer (gotta run out the door in a minute): None of the above.
Mobile suit control systems are even _more_ automated and abstracted than
the macro model you suggest. The details of limb movements, thruster
activation and weapon handling are managed entirely by the computer,
leaving the pilot with controls not much more complex than a modern "fly
by wire" jet fighter. You have your throttle, your steering control, your
weapon selector, your targeting control... the computer then translates
these instructions into actual body movements.

  Ace pilots, we've seen, can override the automated systems and
micro-manage the mobile suit to pull off extra-wacky manuevers. And, when
you have to do something outside the parameters of the computer's
routines, there are special controls for hand manipulations and whatnot
(in the Zaku cockpit, these are on the roof of the cockpit).

>The fact that the suits hold their weapons with hands seems a
>impractical redundancy especially considering the added effort needed to
>program the necessary moves/reflexes into the suit's computers. But
>having the weapons built-in to the suit's structure (ala Battletech or
>Robotech Destroids) will limit MS flexibility to combat situations.

  Right. It's a tradeoff - customization versus complication - and one
that Gundam resolves in favor of coolness and anthropomorphism. Giving
space fighters scaled-up human weapons may be dopey, but it looks way
cool. If you don't like it, well, there's always Star Wars. :-)

>Would skip the need for explanations if pilots actually thought their
>machines through the motions.

  There are a couple of examples of thought-controlled mobile suits - the
psycommu system lets a newtype pilot control not only remote units, but
the mobile suit itself, by thought alone. Terrible strain on the pilot,
though, as we see in Z Gundam. The only person able to thought-control a
mobile armor for more than a few agonizing minutes was Karosso Ronah in F91.

-- Mark

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