Marcus L. Rowland (ffutures) wrote,
Marcus L. Rowland

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Automaton design phase 1

Well, I just put together some design rules which have ended up as about 3300 words, which wasn't as bad as I'd feared. Managed to go into a fair amount of detail without any particularly complicated calculations - some simple multiplication and division is as bad as it gets. It's similar to the rules for designing flying ships and other vehicles in previous releases of the game.

The stages are as follows:

1: Specify purpose of design (what's it for)
2: Specify skeleton (BODY and material which together determine weight and cost)
3: Specify calculating engine - MIND determines weight and cost.
4: Specify visual system (one "eye" or more, monochrome or colour, multiple "eyes" add to weight and cost of brain)
5: Communications system (200 word vocabulary unless you spend more, but the more words it knows the slower it is)
6: SOUL - usually none unless there are unusual circumstances
7: Skills - add to weight and cost of calculating engine, some new skills e.g. Chess, Servant, Porter
8: Interesting built-in gadgets e.g. circular saws, grenade launchers.
9: Calculation of approximate final weight
10: Power plant - tailored to estimated final weight, various options including clockwork, compressed air, steam (coal or acetylene fired), electric, or internal combustion - and fuel
11: Outer casing - papier mache, rubber, aluminium, tin plate, or steel. Find out it's going to be much too heavy and cycle through stages 9-11 a couple of times to get an answer that works.
12: Adjustments for particularly bad or good components.
13: Cosmetic features e.g. rubber masks, lacquered gold leaf inlay, baked enamelled paint, etc.
14: Calculation of performance statistics.

Can anyone think of any stages that need to be added?

The main example for the process will be "Automaton Atkins", a steam-powered soldier. Big, strong, stupid, designed primarily to look impressive, fire a biggish gun, and provide hot water for making tea.

I want to describe a few others. So far the ideas I've come up with are

Alice: A mechanical parlourmaid, domestic skills only.

Porter 12: A mechanical railway porter

Ernie: An assembly-line automaton.

Arnold: An automatic assassin. Think of the Cybermen from "The Avengers" but even more stupid. Quote: "Are you... whirr... Sarah Connaught?"

A "toy" automaton of some sort, e.g. a chess-player or a pet.

Any suggestions for others?

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