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View Full Version : Can anyone recommend good "mech" books? (and another question)



Ivonia
08-29-2005, 02:43 PM
Mech, in my title, referring to basically a giant robot that people can jump into and duke it out with the enemy with. Can anyone recommend good books to read where authors have included them in their book? I am trying to come up with my own stuff, but I would like to see how other authors handled it.

In the meantime, here's one I've developed so far (and am rather proud of, hope there isn't a version of this mech out in books already hehe) for your critquing. Please be gentle lol. And while this may seem like "self promotion" (and I guess it is in a way lol), I really would like to see what you all think about what I've developed so far (does it sound interesting to you? Does it have some obvious flaws to it that you think I should fix?)

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In my WIP, mechs play a major role in the war that's going on (at least regarding land battles. Obviously spaceships and fights in space will reign supreme, but that's not to say I can't include cool fights on land hehe). The mechs are pretty big (roughly about 20 feet tall, they're not the massively huge mechs like those found in Mechwarrior, but they are big enough to be somewhat intimidating, especially if there's quite a few of them on the battlefield).

The Ivonian's Saber Mech (the Ivonians are human-like dinosaurs in my story), for instance, has blades attached to it (via an exoskeleton suit. Yeah, even the mech requires additional power to use the blade system hehe) that can open back to reveal laser blasters (and the blades are for melee combat, either against enemy mechs or larger "monsters" found in the worlds of my book).

Besides two methods of combat, it also features three main features, "travel mode" (I really should come up with a better name lol), where more power is given to the legs to increase movement, sacrificing attack, "normal mode", where power is equally shared by the legs and the arms, and "turret mode", where the legs and the tail of the mech plant themselves on the ground (think of a sumo planting his feet for a rough idea of how my mechs do it).

In "turret mode", most of the power is shunted from the legs and delivered to the weapons system (but the legs/tail still get enough so that the mech can shift and reposition themselves the weight of the mech around as it turns to shoot at stuff. And the arms can be moved independently, inspired by the mechs in Matrix Revolutions hehe. Operationally and realistically though, most pilots in my story often just aim both turrets at one target at a time, unless they're just spraying fire into a large cluster of enemies), and the arms fire at an increased rate. The torso doesn't have 360 degree movement like a tank turret (because it can only "twist" as much as the pilot can), but they can switch the positioning of their feet and tail if they need to target something out of their current line of fire.

The control system, due to the nature of having to perform melee attacks, makes it more like a exo-skeleton suit (sorry I'm not sure what the correct term is) rather than a traditional mech (like in a lot of those anime shows such as Gundam and Robotech, or from the Mechwarrior games where they sit in a cockpit and use small joysticks to control their mech). I figure due to the pilot having to switch their positions rapidly, it would be more efficient if the mech simulates their movement rather than the pilot just using joysticks to control it (they do have a joystick system, but in combat mode it moves itself out of the way and simply mimic's the users movements, particularly with the arms). As you can probably guess, pilots will need to be in fairly good physical condition in order to be effective.

The pilot also wears a special helmet which has an eyeglass in front to help the pilot track enemies and give updates on the battlefield (this is actually sort of based on a real life invention which the military has been trying to develop for soldiers, and I thought it sounded interesting) to objectives (I should note that infantry, fighter and bomber pilots get this feature as well on their helmets, but obviously it's not as advanced for an infantry soldier as it is for a pilot needing to fight all around themself). It features "normal mode", where the pilot isn't shown anything (other than vital info regarding their own mech, such as damage sustained to it, or which combat mode it's currently in), "enhanced mode", where an onboard computer can download strategic information and highlight friendly and enemy targets (blue targets are friendly, red targets are enemy) to make it easier for them to fight, "infrared mode", for night fighting (if you've ever tried walking in the middle of the night when there's no full moon out, nor any other source of significant light, like city lights, you can probably see why they'd need this hehe. I also want to throw in a deep space fight where their is no significant source of lighting from a nearby star to illuminate, so I imagine this mode would also be handy for that).

This mech is popular on the larger spaceships, as they can plant themselves on the hulls for increased firepower and defense against enemy fighters (imagine several of these mechs in "turret mode" firing at a large squadron of enemy fighters and bombers attempting to attack the spaceship hehe), although they can be used to support ground forces as well (and are often used as "turrets" around bases in my story).

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Some thoughts before you give me your opinion on the mech desigh:

Regarding the blade/laser turret feature, yeah, it's kind of a flawed design (cause I could just put laser turrets above and below the blade), but personally I felt that having the blades open up to reveal the laser turrets makes it a little cooler (esp. if you see this in a game/movie). Maybe future books will have an "advanced" design, but for now I want to see how well this design is accepted first (although I do have the characters joking about the flaw, kind of like how soldiers joked about how much maintenance an M-16 rifle requires. I remember someone telling me, "It's a good weapon, but if you so much as look at it funny, it won't fire" lol).

Sorry if the explanation for the control system on the mech sounds a little clunky. Again, this is where I need to see how other authors handled this situation hehe. If you could also give me the correct terms needed for a suit that mimics a user's movements, please let me know what it's commonly called.

The "turret mode" on spaceships is also kind of exciting, and I came up with it because I imagined having pitched battles in space where the bad guys have to soften up the ship's defenses with their own mechs (remember, they're pretty efficient at being AA guns) before they can launch their "monster transports" to kill the crew of the ship (basically it's a hardened shuttle loaded with monsters, which then slams into an enemy ship, and opens up to let the monsters kill off the crew without destroying the ship. If you've read my other recent post on the sci-fi board, you can imagine that this type of battle will be in the "movie" version hehe).

I could just put missiles on fighters to counter the mechs, but again, this is just fiction, and missiles would make it rather boring (well, at least sticking them on fighters to use against the mechs. I think it'd be cooler to read/watch if you see a large battle going on not just close to the ship, but literally on the ship itself). That's not to say I rule them out completely (as the mechs and many planes do have missiles, but on mechs they're mostly small and used defensively, like to take out stubborn planes that refuse to die hehe), but for the most part, I'll just say they're not very effective anymore. Plus if it was real life, mechs wouldn't be very effective as a military tool anyway, as tanks, helicopters, and even infantry with the right weapons can perform the same role as a clumsy mech. But then again, it's pretty exciting to see them in a book, game or movie, wouldn't you agree? :D

And finally, why even have melee ability on the mech (at least in the way I described it)? Because again, it's kind of cool watching two mechs fight it out (or a mech and a very large monster, which are quite common in my book) in close combat. Same reason why rifles have bayonets basically. You can shoot with it, but you can also stab someone if need be (or hit them with the butt of the rifle). And besides, as many sci-fi/fantasy games have taught us, swords are often more powerful than guns lol (the last reason is just a joke btw in case you didn't get it).

I hope you enjoyed reading it (my book isn't this "boring" I promise, and I describe the mech's capabilities to read less like an instruction manual like how I've described it here hehe. In other words, I'm actively trying to avoid info dumps, although due to the nature of most of my weapon systems, it may be somewhat inevitable at times). I look forward to your comments :)

MadScientistMatt
08-29-2005, 05:49 PM
Ok, here are my thoughts on the design you've come up with. There are a lot of areas where I'll ask for clarification. Sometimes the design seems a bit strange, but there could very well be important supporting details that you've left out that explain why this works. I've rearranged some of the quotes to group things by similar topic. My perspective is going to be more of a realist one, which may or may not be appropriate for your book. There are some sub-genres where showmanship trumps realism - some manga and anime, for example, but also some Western SF.

By the way, you might want to check to see if FASA has "Mech" trademarked. You may need a different name for your book.


The Ivonian's Saber Mech (the Ivonians are human-like dinosaurs in my story), for instance, has blades attached to it (via an exoskeleton suit. Yeah, even the mech requires additional power to use the blade system hehe) that can open back to reveal laser blasters (and the blades are for melee combat, either against enemy mechs or larger "monsters" found in the worlds of my book)...

Regarding the blade/laser turret feature, yeah, it's kind of a flawed design (cause I could just put laser turrets above and below the blade), but personally I felt that having the blades open up to reveal the laser turrets makes it a little cooler (esp. if you see this in a game/movie). Maybe future books will have an "advanced" design, but for now I want to see how well this design is accepted first (although I do have the characters joking about the flaw, kind of like how soldiers joked about how much maintenance an M-16 rifle requires. I remember someone telling me, "It's a good weapon, but if you so much as look at it funny, it won't fire" lol).

There's two aspects here that you will want to explain somehow. The first is the exoskeleton-on-an-exoskeleton design. This is not necessarily a bad idea if you can have a good reason why they did not integrate the extra power into the basic design. For example, perhaps there are other weapons packages for your mech, so that you could remove its blade / laser exoskeleton and replace it with a different exoskeleton that outfits each arm with a machine gun, and the machine gun exoskeleton does not require the extra power unit. If the exoskeleton with the blades is not integrated into the mech, I would recommend demonstrating why this is the case by showing that there are times when the mechs are used without one.

Then there's the opening blades. Presumably, somebody had to justify that in the design stage. They would not only have the reliability problems I mentioned in an earlier thread, but I would expect them to be heavier, weaker, and more expensive than a setup like the bayonet on a modern rifle, with the blade mounted under the discharge window. I recommend coming up with some sort of reason to justify the design. Bad designs can be justified if they have some reason why they built them that way.


Besides two methods of combat, it also features three main features, "travel mode" (I really should come up with a better name lol), where more power is given to the legs to increase movement, sacrificing attack, "normal mode", where power is equally shared by the legs and the arms, and "turret mode", where the legs and the tail of the mech plant themselves on the ground (think of a sumo planting his feet for a rough idea of how my mechs do it).

Nothing wrong with the names. Still, a good power distribution system would send power where it's needed, on the fly. So its legs might slow down when it is firing its lasers or applying a lot of force with its arms, without the need to switch anything. I would just have it switch between travel mode and turret mode, and have the control computer use whether the weapons are actively being used (swinging blades, firing lasers, etc) to determine whether it needs to reduce power to the legs. The turret mode makes perfect sense, particularly if it has clawed or magnetic feet.

BTW, your mechs have tails? I like that idea, as it's an interesting twist from the usual completely anthropomorphic mechs. This would probably affect the way it balances, and definitely come in handy for keeping planted in turret mode. This idea is interesting, and I hope you use it to the fullest.


The "turret mode" on spaceships is also kind of exciting, and I came up with it because I imagined having pitched battles in space where the bad guys have to soften up the ship's defenses with their own mechs (remember, they're pretty efficient at being AA guns) before they can launch their "monster transports" to kill the crew of the ship (basically it's a hardened shuttle loaded with monsters, which then slams into an enemy ship, and opens up to let the monsters kill off the crew without destroying the ship. If you've read my other recent post on the sci-fi board, you can imagine that this type of battle will be in the "movie" version hehe).

You might want to outfit the mechs with magnetic feet and tails for this. If ships can get in close to each other, I would definitely expect mechs to be used in ship to ship combat in a variety of ways. You might even have the mechs jump off one ship and swarm onto another, trying to cut their way in. Getting mechs close enough might be trouble, but once they're on a ship, weapons meant for ship-to-ship combat would not have an easy time fighting them off. The occupants would either have to send out their own mechs or have some sort of specialized anti-mech defense system on the hull.

The only issue I can see with this tactic is that I'm not sure how the mech's armor compares with the ship. If the ship's armor is a meter thick and ship-to-ship combat involves immensely powerful bombs designed to penetrate this, the mechs on the outside of the hull would get shredded by the enemy's long range bombardment. If the ship's weapons are closer to the sort of things you might throw at a mech, this approach would make more sense.

The monster boarding tactics would also require ship's weapons to be fairly weak in comparison with their armor. It's the only way I could see the boarding craft getting close enough to release their cargo without getting pulverized long before they arrived.

So, I guess both these tactics would be accomodated by your civilizations having very good material science. Both the mechs on the outside of ships and the monster boarding shuttles call for armor or other protection that is lightweight and can stand up to the weapons used on the ships. So if one tactic works in your books, the other tactic should also be effective.


The control system, due to the nature of having to perform melee attacks, makes it more like a exo-skeleton suit (sorry I'm not sure what the correct term is) rather than a traditional mech (like in a lot of those anime shows such as Gundam and Robotech, or from the Mechwarrior games where they sit in a cockpit and use small joysticks to control their mech). I figure due to the pilot having to switch their positions rapidly, it would be more efficient if the mech simulates their movement rather than the pilot just using joysticks to control it (they do have a joystick system, but in combat mode it moves itself out of the way and simply mimic's the users movements, particularly with the arms). As you can probably guess, pilots will need to be in fairly good physical condition in order to be effective.

This seems pretty reasonable. You may have to work out some of the details of how the pilot is strapped in.


The pilot also wears a special helmet which has an eyeglass in front to help the pilot track enemies and give updates on the battlefield (this is actually sort of based on a real life invention which the military has been trying to develop for soldiers, and I thought it sounded interesting) to objectives (I should note that infantry, fighter and bomber pilots get this feature as well on their helmets, but obviously it's not as advanced for an infantry soldier as it is for a pilot needing to fight all around themself). It features "normal mode", where the pilot isn't shown anything (other than vital info regarding their own mech, such as damage sustained to it, or which combat mode it's currently in), "enhanced mode", where an onboard computer can download strategic information and highlight friendly and enemy targets (blue targets are friendly, red targets are enemy) to make it easier for them to fight, "infrared mode", for night fighting (if you've ever tried walking in the middle of the night when there's no full moon out, nor any other source of significant light, like city lights, you can probably see why they'd need this hehe. I also want to throw in a deep space fight where their is no significant source of lighting from a nearby star to illuminate, so I imagine this mode would also be handy for that).

This seems like a pretty useful idea. Maybe the system could also give the pilot "eyes in the back of his head" or otherwise work with some external cameras to warn the pilot if something was coming up behind him.


And finally, why even have melee ability on the mech (at least in the way I described it)? Because again, it's kind of cool watching two mechs fight it out (or a mech and a very large monster, which are quite common in my book) in close combat. Same reason why rifles have bayonets basically. You can shoot with it, but you can also stab someone if need be (or hit them with the butt of the rifle). And besides, as many sci-fi/fantasy games have taught us, swords are often more powerful than guns lol (the last reason is just a joke btw in case you didn't get it).

There's another very good reason for the mechs to have good, close-in fighting capability. A war machine that can't engage small, close-in targets is vulnerable and must be used in combination with other units to be effective. If a mech can only attack at long range, enemy soldiers could destroy them by staying concealed until one walked past, then jumping out and using Molotov cocktails, bombs, or other short-range weapons to destroy them. This is why the army uses both tanks and infantry in many areas, at the same time. So there are plenty of reasons why a mech would need either close combat capability, or need to be accompanied by other things that can fight in close.

Come to think of it, if the mechs can carry different weapons, you might even want to show cases where you use a mixed unit which has some mechs with melee ability and some that lack it. For example, you might have three laser/blade mechs accompanying one that uses railguns or missiles for engaging targets at long range.

Good luck with your book.

sunandshadow
08-29-2005, 10:37 PM
Do you mean books as in novels or books as in manga/anime series? I can't off the top of my head think of any novels with mechs in them, but I have seen a few anime series with mechs. Personally I liked the ones in Maze best, but those probably aren't what you want because they're magical rather than mechanical. Same problem with the ones in Escaflowne

So hmm let's see... Evangelion, assorted Gundam series, Patlabor. Candidate For Goddess has space mechs. Well, I dunno, I'm not a mech fan, I'm more of a shoujo fan, so I don't know of that many series to recommend. But I believe megatokyo.com has a mechs forum, maybe you should ask there.

dblteam
08-29-2005, 10:56 PM
You might try the Robotech series of books. They're geared toward the tweens or early teens, so they're pretty simple reading, but there's a lot in there about how Earth's military might make use of mechs and has them working in conjuction with many other kinds of military hardware.

Valerie

LloydBrown
08-29-2005, 11:08 PM
Just for the record, FASA went out of business about 4 years ago. Their IPs went to WizKids, which has since been bought by Topps.

The Battletech IP is being licensed by a company called Fantasy Productions, or FanPro, but I don't have an exhaustive list of which licenses they have.

If you want referential ficiton, FASA did produce stacks of novels for the Battletech universe. It's required reading (or at least familiarity) if you're attempting to write in the field.

Ivonia
08-30-2005, 12:05 AM
Interesting stuff, and thnx for the comments MadscientistMatt. I'll comment more on your comments in when I have more time, but thanks for giving me info.

Btw, where can I check to see if a name or word has been trademarked? Although judging from the wikipedia article I read, it seems mech is a generic term, and it seems in Japan, they're popularly known as mecha (and some of them have pretty cool names too. I'll probably end up changing the name of the mechs in my story, but I want to make sure it's not already out there hehe).

While I'm not into the fantasy based mechs too much, I won't rule them out completely (mine is more sci-fi, but not hard sci-fi, probably along the lines of star wars or the mechwarrior games), as the Japanese mechs often have really cool designs to them (whereas western designed mechs often seem too bland by comparision. That's not to say they're not good, but I'd like for my mechs to look somewhat stylish, yet seem somewhat practical).

Yeah, I own the series of Robotech on DVD (and several games with mechs, including the "mother of them all" Steel Battalion. It comes with a massive joystick and feels kind of cool), and it was one of my original inspirations for wanting mechs in my book (too bad my mechs can't transform into a plane though hehe). I didn't like the mechs used in Star Wars much, they seemed too crude (not that they weren't cool looking in some ways, but again, if I want mech on mech battles, I can't have my mechs moving around as if they're powered by 18th century steam engines lol).

MadScientistMatt
08-30-2005, 12:19 AM
The US Patent and Trademark Office has a Trademark Search Engine here:

http://tess2.uspto.gov/bin/gate.exe?f=tess&state=rt99el.1.1

TheIT
08-30-2005, 12:43 AM
This isn't exactly my field, but perhaps Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers might give you some ideas. I'm talking about the book, not the movie. About all the two had in common was the title. From what I remember about the book, each soldier had a mechanized suit which allowed him to patrol large amounts of territory alone.

MadScientistMatt
08-30-2005, 06:05 AM
Just ran a trademark search for Mech and thought I'd post the relevant results here.

The trademarks on Battlemech, MechWarrior, and 'Mech (with the apostrophe) are still active. However, other companies have used the trademarks like "Street Mech" and "Mechassault." If you are going to use "Mech" in a book, you'll probably want legal advice.

Ivonia
08-31-2005, 09:36 AM
Thanks for the advice and suggestions. I'm thinking that I probably will come up with another name for the mechs. I suppose "Saber Mech" will stay in, but I'll probably come up with an alternate name that they'll more commonly be known by, I guess a nickname, if you will.



Ok, here are my thoughts on the design you've come up with. There are a lot of areas where I'll ask for clarification. Sometimes the design seems a bit strange, but there could very well be important supporting details that you've left out that explain why this works. I've rearranged some of the quotes to group things by similar topic. My perspective is going to be more of a realist one, which may or may not be appropriate for your book. There are some sub-genres where showmanship trumps realism - some manga and anime, for example, but also some Western SF.


I think I'll make a compromise here. I've been reading some stuff about it on wikipedia, and it says that "eastern mechs" (aka those from shows made in Japan, etc.) tend to have sleeker, cooler looking mechs in general. "Western" designs tend to focus more on what would essentially be realism, so they look blocky and often don't have arms (just weapon systems mounted in place of the arms).

I guess I'm mostly going for showmanship here, but my mechs will have a "slow, mechanical" movement to them when they're moving around, to add some sense of realism (I really like the way the mechs move in Mechwarrior and in Star Wars for example). They will also largely resemble whichever species is using them (I have anthropomorphic dinosaurs, birds, and snakes, hence why the mechs have tails).




There's two aspects here that you will want to explain somehow. The first is the exoskeleton-on-an-exoskeleton design. This is not necessarily a bad idea if you can have a good reason why they did not integrate the extra power into the basic design. For example, perhaps there are other weapons packages for your mech, so that you could remove its blade / laser exoskeleton and replace it with a different exoskeleton that outfits each arm with a machine gun, and the machine gun exoskeleton does not require the extra power unit. If the exoskeleton with the blades is not integrated into the mech, I would recommend demonstrating why this is the case by showing that there are times when the mechs are used without one.

Then there's the opening blades. Presumably, somebody had to justify that in the design stage. They would not only have the reliability problems I mentioned in an earlier thread, but I would expect them to be heavier, weaker, and more expensive than a setup like the bayonet on a modern rifle, with the blade mounted under the discharge window. I recommend coming up with some sort of reason to justify the design. Bad designs can be justified if they have some reason why they built them that way.



I thought about this for a while, and then I realized that I had already come up with the answer lol. On the fighter jets that the dinosaurs will fly (including the main hero), they have a baseline design to them, but there are compartments where you can give them secondary functions, depending on the mission requirements. For instance, you can place a towing system in that compartment, giving the planes "towing" capability (I think I discussed this in another thread), or they can put a cloaking system in there, giving the fighters stealth capability, or large laser cannons to give them extra firepower when assaulting capital ships.

In comparision, the snake species all have fighters with large cannons mounted up top permanently, and their bombers have an extra cannon mounted below the. Otherwise the snake's planes more or less look the same.

The bird species have planes designed to resemble birds in flight, and are built for speed and maneuverability (they also have cannons permanently mounted on them, but they're not as powerful as the snake ones).

As you can see, I'm trying to give all three species different weapon systems so that they're not all exactly the same. Same thing with the mechs.

Regarding the mech, the reason why there's an "exo-skeleton" on the mech is that the dinosaurs can place different weapon systems on a baseline model mech (I got this idea mainly from the Army and how they're coming out with weapons and vehicles that will share a common design, but can be modified to do different things, but I'm sure it's been done before in fiction). I've yet to come up with more designs though, besides the "saber" and "lancer" attachments (I've been thinking of giving them basically a giant sniper gun, and a cannon that can charge up shots like those found on the fighter planes).

Regarding the blades opening, I guess the justification I'll use is that the blades block a lot line of sight the pilot needs when aiming, so the blades open up to give them more space to see as they're moving their arms around to shoot at stuff.

Plus, I'll just take some creative licensing here, but the way I imagine the blades opening, it'll make them look really cool if this ever became a movie or game, and I don't think it'd look too terribly unrealistic. Again, this isn't real life :)


BTW, your mechs have tails? I like that idea, as it's an interesting twist from the usual completely anthropomorphic mechs. This would probably affect the way it balances, and definitely come in handy for keeping planted in turret mode. This idea is interesting, and I hope you use it to the fullest.

Yeah, the mechs are modeled to resemble their species. The dinosaurs have mechs that look like Triceratops, Stegosaurs, Anklyosaurs, Allosaurs (yes, some of the names are intentionally misspelled. Thats how I spell them to describe their species in my story). The snake mechs have long necks and a large cannon permanently mounted on their back, which they can bring forward when they want to use it (this is to go with their military doctrine of focusing on offense), and the bird mechs have limited flight capability (and focus mostly on long range attacks). They're mostly used for recon anyway, and are the "lightest" of the three designs, and therefore most vulnerable in a heavy battle).



The turret mode makes perfect sense, particularly if it has clawed or magnetic feet.

You might want to outfit the mechs with magnetic feet and tails for this. If ships can get in close to each other, I would definitely expect mechs to be used in ship to ship combat in a variety of ways. You might even have the mechs jump off one ship and swarm onto another, trying to cut their way in. Getting mechs close enough might be trouble, but once they're on a ship, weapons meant for ship-to-ship combat would not have an easy time fighting them off. The occupants would either have to send out their own mechs or have some sort of specialized anti-mech defense system on the hull.

The only issue I can see with this tactic is that I'm not sure how the mech's armor compares with the ship. If the ship's armor is a meter thick and ship-to-ship combat involves immensely powerful bombs designed to penetrate this, the mechs on the outside of the hull would get shredded by the enemy's long range bombardment. If the ship's weapons are closer to the sort of things you might throw at a mech, this approach would make more sense.

The monster boarding tactics would also require ship's weapons to be fairly weak in comparison with their armor. It's the only way I could see the boarding craft getting close enough to release their cargo without getting pulverized long before they arrived.

So, I guess both these tactics would be accomodated by your civilizations having very good material science. Both the mechs on the outside of ships and the monster boarding shuttles call for armor or other protection that is lightweight and can stand up to the weapons used on the ships. So if one tactic works in your books, the other tactic should also be effective.



Hmm, magnetic feet, that's interesting, and I hadn't thought of that yet (they do have clawed feet though). I just relied on the fact that the mechs are so heavy to help them stay in place (I'll probably end up doing something similiar to those real life magnets where they're only "on" when electricity is pushed through them, so the mech's feet aren't permanently magnetic, and even then, it'll only be for short durations, because I imagine the magnetism will screw up the systems if left on too long, and wouldn't really help them when fighting on dirt and rocks anyway. Someone correct me if I'm wrong on this stuff).

I hadn't really planned any "close quarter" ship fights the way you described, where the mechs can jump from one capital ship to another, but it might be possible for a later battle or one I briefly mention in the book (I do have space pirates, but they largely work for the good guys). The way I'm envisioning like 90% of the fights in my book is that they fire at each other from long range, while the fighters and bombers have their own fights, and then the mechs are brought closeby to ships via small transports deemed critical for capture to breakdown that ship's defenses before crack teams of soldiers (and monsters in the enemy's case) are sent onboard the ship.

As you can probably guess, a task like this won't be easy, as friendly ships will not let the enemy take a ship without a fight (until the enemy capital ships destroy them), and consequently won't be done too often, but it should make for some interesting drama when it does work.

The mech's armor is obviously going to be much, much lighter than a large capital ship. Again, the mech's role on the ships (in my story anyway) is mainly to act as AA guns, and to try and shoot down enemy transports before they can crash into a ship (once the enemy boards, the mechs are too large to go through the ship, and the pilot has to dismount to fight them off unless they're fighting in the large hangars. Although come to think of it, if the enemy has successfully boarded, it's safe to assume by that point that those mech pilots are dead already).

Again, most of the fighting between capital ships will be long ranged (except when the enemy tries to bring in mechs on smaller transports to try and takeover a ship), and they'll mostly be trying to knock out other capital ships with those weapons, rather than the mechs that might be on their hulls (I haven't considered putting mechs on the enemy ships yet the way the good guys can have saber mechs on their ship. I probably won't though, because again, I don't want them all having the same tactics/designs, and in the bad guy's case, they focus more on offense anyway, so having mechs on top of the ship doesn't fit their military doctrines).

And except in a desperate situation, they'll only use the mechs and smaller transports after the enemy ships have taken a beating (cause yeah, the weapons on the capital ships are pretty powerful. Although the enemy transports do have pretty strong hulls and shielding, since they're designed to crash into another ship, so they can probably take a beating themselves).

Good questions though, glad you came up with these scenarios for me to think about how effective their designs would be. There's obviously going to be some flaws, but I want cover major ones before rewriting my story (no wonder the AT-ST's in Return of the Jedi got beaten by ewoks, look how crappy the design the Empire used was. They didn't even have arms hehe).




You may have to work out some of the details of how the pilot is strapped in.

The way I imagined it, the mechs sort of "sit" when they're not in use, and then the pilot hops in and straps themselves in. They have a chair, although it just sticks out enough so they don't have to stand all the time, and like that "joystick controlpad", it "disappears" during combat so that it's not in the way of the pilot too much. It wouldn't be a full-seated-in thing I guess, but the pilots can "sit" and rest when they're not fighting (at least in melee combat).




Maybe the system could also give the pilot "eyes in the back of his head" or otherwise work with some external cameras to warn the pilot if something was coming up behind him.

The pilot does have a camera that watches all sides of him, and does give warning about stuff approaching from behind. Of course, if that camera gets knocked out...




There's another very good reason for the mechs to have good, close-in fighting capability. A war machine that can't engage small, close-in targets is vulnerable and must be used in combination with other units to be effective. If a mech can only attack at long range, enemy soldiers could destroy them by staying concealed until one walked past, then jumping out and using Molotov cocktails, bombs, or other short-range weapons to destroy them. This is why the army uses both tanks and infantry in many areas, at the same time. So there are plenty of reasons why a mech would need either close combat capability, or need to be accompanied by other things that can fight in close.

Come to think of it, if the mechs can carry different weapons, you might even want to show cases where you use a mixed unit which has some mechs with melee ability and some that lack it. For example, you might have three laser/blade mechs accompanying one that uses railguns or missiles for engaging targets at long range.

Yeah, for the rescue mission from the crashed transport ship, the mechs do have different weapons with them, to cover each other's weaknesses (and they do have infantry going with them on several trucks to help the survivors escape). Of course, many of them get knocked out of the fight by the enemy forces, and the hero's friend has trouble holding off the enemy forces until he arrives to give him air support.


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Here's a small sampling of my work hehe:

The Ivonian marines soon entered one of the dining area of the Titan. It looked awful as the bodies of many dead Ivonians lay around them. Dante saw that they had threw as many chairs and tables around the doorways as possible. One entrance was breached, as evidenced by the enormous hole which appeared to have been punched through its frame, and the items used to brace it were scattered nearby.

"Looks like it was a last line of defense here." the Allosaur mentioned to another marine as he took off his helmet to sratch his head.

"Poor bastards never stood a chance in here." The Triceratops marine replied back to Dante, "They better be glad we weren't here at that time! Look at that! Why'd they have to kill helpless sailors? They should be taking us on!"

As other Ivonian marines continued to search the large room, Dante noticed a portable computer lying next to a dead female Tyrannosaur. Dante saw the poor Ivonian's throat appeared to have bitten off, perhaps by a vicious, wolf-like fenrir.

He tried taking the computer from her, but she still had a strong grip on it. She had a strong hold on it for only having two fingers and a thumb like the other Tyrannosaurs. Even in death, she seemed determined to refuse to give up the device to the enemy.

"Forgive me for having to do this." he said as he continued to struggle prying the computer away from her. Strangely enough, after speaking to her it seemed almost as if she decided to loosen her grip and give up, knowing it was in the hands of an Ivonian now.

"How could this have happened?" the Allosaur thought to himself as he looked through the data, "This was supposed to be the Ivonian Space Navy's most powerful ship! At least you don't have to look at this stuff flying around your Shadow Raptor Arty. I bet even Chad doesn't have to see this stuff either in his Saber Mech. Good thing none of us were here when this massacre happened, although I wish none of these Ivonians were either."

"Look at that door," shouted one of the marines, "it looks like a fenrir slammed into it until it broke through." Dante continued searching the computer for any evidence of what happened in here.

While searching the computer he noticed an audio recording listed as "Last Entry" and began to listen to it. As it began to play, other marines nearby stopped to listen to what sounded like something pounding very heavily on one of the ship's metallic doors.They also heard ungodly screeching and snarling in the recording as the door continued to be pounded on.

Soon a voice could be heard on the recording. Many of the marines stopped searching to listen.

"This is it!" a female voice on the recording said frantically, "this room is the last defense for us. The monsters have breached the upper and middle decks. The Scalian shock troopers have killed off the captain, and I haven't been able to contact anyone else in any other part of the ship since. The mechs tried their best to stop them from breaching the ship, so I can't blame them. There were too many of them! I don't think we'll live through this, so if any Ivonians are listening to this, please, kill each and everyone of them with extreme prejudice for me."

The female voice soon stopped speaking as the door broke open. Laser blasts could be heard as an Ivonian gave the order to open fire. Several creatures could be heard, and one in particular grew loudly as appeared to lunge towards the female Ivonian making the recording. She could be heard struggling against the creature, but soon a loud crunching noise filled the recorder, followed by the sound of her falling to the ground. The sound of battle continued for a few more seconds, and then stopped.

The marines all closed their eyes and lowered their heads. It was truly awful, having the Scalians resort to this tactic.

They weren't given much time however, as they soon could hear howling in the distance. It seemed to be getting louder every second as the noises continued.

Captain Steiner was baffled. "They're still onboard?" The Tyrannosaur screamed, "Defensive positions bandits!" He turned to one of his marines, "Get me the Europa!"

An Ivonian soon began pressing buttons on his radio, and handed his commander the hand mic.

"Europa! This is Bandit One! The Titan is infected! I repeat, the Titan is still infected!"

The marines began to set up behind the tables and awaited for the enemy creatures to return.

"This is the Europa." A female voice responded over the radio, "Roger Bandit One, we received your message. The Titan is still infected. Be advised that a large Scalian Fleet has just appeared in our scanners."

"I hope you can pull us out of this one Arty." Dante thought himself as he charged his rifle and aimed at the doorway, "It seems the Scalians have left us some surprises. In any case, they're going to pay for this." His heart began pounding, and he along with several other marines began to breathe heavily as their excitement and fear began to shoot up from their tails and up their spines.

Perhaps now, many marines thought, when the monsters and Scalians showed their faces to some real Ivonian fighters, they'd get a chance to avenge the crew of the Ivonian Star Ship Titan.

Ivonia
08-31-2005, 10:35 AM
Well, my previous writing sample didn't really even include a mech (other than a brief mention), so here's another sample (taken from one of my chapters in my WIP) with some in it hehe:

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Chad continued to fire at the Scalian soldiers attempting reach the base. He saw many Scalian fighters flying through the air, attempting to shoot the transports out of the sky.

"Come on Arty," the Triceratops said to himself, "get those planes off my back! I got enough ground troops to worry about here, I can't be attacking both the air and ground right now!"

As the battle raged on, one of the Ivonian transports flying overhead soon began to smoke and lose altitude as the Scalian fighters surrounded it.

"This is the transport shuttle Zera," the pilot said as he attempted to control the transport ship, "We're going to crash!"

Chad watched as the shuttle crash landed far away from the base. "Someone's got to get to them before the Scalians do!"

A voice soon came on over the radio, "Belmer, this is Captain Johnson, I need you, Zorsky and Hutch to escort some trucks that we're sending to rescue the survivors of that shuttle that crash landed. Get over there ASAP!"

"Roger" Chad replied before disengaging turret mode on his saber mech. He soon caught up with Zorsky and Hutch, and all three mechs began to escort the five trucks assigned.

"Travel mode engaged" a female voice told Chad as he prepared to speed up to keep up with the trucks. He hoped that there wouldn't be any issues until they got to the crash site. An orange, triangular ship soon passed overhead as Chad continued scanning the area.

"I hope that's you up there Arty." Chad said to himself. Several more Ivonian fighters continued to fly overhead to provide air support for the rescue team.

They soon reached the area where Chad had seen the shuttle go down. Many Ivonians were getting out of the shuttle and running towards the nearby forest. Chad looked at two of the Ivonians on the ground who seemed to be organizing the evacuation. It was a green-skinned Brontosaur and a pink-skinned Tyrannosaur. He zoomed in on them to get a better look.

"Hey," he thought, "That's Brad and Marissa! What are they doing back in these woods?"

"Incoming!" a voice sounded over the radio. Chad immediately turned around and looked for any hostiles approaching. "Engage turret mode." he said.

His mech immediately stomped on the ground and spread out slightly to give the mech more firm grounding. The blades on his arms opened up to reveal the laser turrets behind them.

"Turret mode engaged." a female voice confirmed for Chad. He turned on "Enhanced mode" and immediately saw that there were several Scalian mechs attempting to hide in the trees nearby. He aimed his guns and opened fire in their general direction.

The other two Ivonian mechs also noticed the Scalians and began to open fire on them as well. One mech, carrying a large, rectangular shield in one hand, and a large lance in his other put the shield in front and braced its leg against the shield on the ground and began to charge up shots to fire at the Scalians. He stood in between the two mechs and placed himself in front of the Ivonian and Avian civilians and soldiers on the ground.

The other mech, a Saber mech, also entered turret mode and began to open fire at the Scalians, in an attempt to buy more time for the Ivonians and Avians on the ground to escape.

Several soldiers also assisted the mechs, while others helped the civilians board the trucks.

The Scalian mechs soon returned fire. Several of them unloaded their cannon, charged up a shot and fired.

Two of them missed entirely, and their shots flew harmlessly over the trees. One shot however, hit one of the five trucks, causing it to explode and taking out two other trucks. Many of the Ivonian and Avian civilians began to scream and hit the ground as soon as they saw the explosions.

"Damn it!" Chad cursed to himself as he continued firing at the Scalians. He managed to hit two of them, but there were still two enemy mechs out there.

Another Scalian mech fired. It hit Zorksy, who was in the other Saber Mech, and he fell to the ground. He attempted to get back up, but was hit again and exploded shortly afterwards.

"Where are you Arty?" Chad complained.

Another shot fired by the Scalian mechs soon hit Hutch, but the shield absorbed the energy from the blast. Hutch continued to fire and hoped that he could continue protecting the civilians until they could escape.

Soon the other Scalian mechs were destroyed as Chad and Hutch combined their attacks and picked them off one at a time.

Soon Chad heard a loud roaring noise. "Wait a minute." he thought, "Didn't we just win?"

Two very large creatures soon came out near where Scalians were stationed.

"Golitaurs!" an Ivonian soldier shouted, "mechs! Open fire on them! Don't let them get through!"

Chad immediately froze up as he saw the two large brown fur, elephant-like creatures rushing towards them. His heart began to pound, and he began wheezing, and seemed unable to do anythign else. Hutch began to fire at them, but his shots didn't seem to faze either creature much.

"Help me out here Belmer!" Hutch yelled at Chad through the radio. Chad's fear of monsters prevented him from doing anything however, and he continued to stand there.

One of the Golitaurs tried charging into Hutch. It slammed its massive body into the Lancer Mech, knocking him down and back several meters. Hutch got back up and ran towards the creature, slamming his shield into the creature's side as it tried to turn around. It attempted to swing its head and tusks at the mech, but Hutch blocked and retaliated with a swift thrust of his lance into the creature. He stabbed the large creature several more times and then opened fire on it, causing it to collapse.

The other Golitaur stopped as it saw what happened. It then noticed many Ivonians and Avians in the forest, and changed direction to charge at them.

Chad was still frozen up in fear. He tried to move, but couldn't. He saw that the Golitaur was no longer charging at him, but rather it headed in the direction of Marissa and Brad.

"Oh no you don't!" he shouted, as he saw the danger the creature was posing to his friends on the ground. He immediately opened fire on the Golitaur, which once again halted. It then began to rush at Chad again.

"Die you bastard!" Chad screamed as he unloaded more laser fire into the creature. Sensing that his shots weren't going to kill it, Chad immediately disengaged turret mode and tried dodging the creature before it could hit him.

He was too late however, and only partially dodged, as the right arm on his mech was hit when the creature rushed into him. Chad immediately threw his left blade down into the creature, and attempted to do the same with his right arm. Although his right arm was still functional, it was severely damaged now, and didn't impact the creature with full force.

Chad opened up his left blade and began to fire at the creature again as it ran away. He threw up his right arm in an attempt to use it as a shield, since it was broken now and couldn't fire.

The Golitaur rushed Chad once again, and despite Hutch firing at it too, it seemed to ignore the pain caused by the damage the Ivonians were causing to it.

Chad continued to scream as his left arm continued firing at the Golitaur, when all of a sudden several blasts hit it from above. The creature immediately lost its momentum and fell to the ground, tumbling and stopping just short of Chad's mech.

He looked up in the sky and was surprised as an Ivonian fighter flew barely a few feet above his own mech. It then flew overhead and veered to the right.

"Thanks Arty." Chad said to his Tyrannosaur, "Only you would be so bold as to do that stupid fly over me stunt."

"Sorry I'm late." Arty replied over the radio, "I got kind of hung back there with all those Scalian fighters and bombers. It wouldn't kill you to have shot a few down beforehand you know? Anyway, I'll mop up the skies for Scalians until you guys are done down there. And say hi to Marissa and Brad for me."

"Will do Arty." Chad replied, then mumbled, "Anything for your girlfriend huh?"

Soon Brad and Marissa ran over to where Chad was. He began to speak to them on his loudspeaker.

"Are you guys all right down there?" Chad asked them.

"Yes, we're fine!" Marissa replied to him while waving, "Head back to the base with what you have! We'll keep the rest of the survivors safe in the forest here till you return!"

"Okay then. And Arty says hi." Chad breathed a sigh of relief as his friends on the ground assured their safety in the forest. He couldn't wait to get back to base before too many Scalians showed up here.

Marissa smiled and then headed back with Brad and the other Ivonian and Avian survivors as they began to hide in the woods. She hoped this war would end soon, for everyone's sake.

Pthom
08-31-2005, 09:52 PM
Cool stuff, Ivonia, but lengthy bits of prose, presented for critique, advice or just for "show," belong in the SF/F section of the "Share Your Work (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/forumdisplay.php?f=67)" forum, not here. Thanks.