Friday, 19 September 2014

Let's Play: Final Fantasy VIII - Part Fifty Nine

 Part Fifty Eight


 Day Twenty Three: Shoot For The Moon, You May Hit a Space Station

 It's finally time to deal with the adventures of Zog, Nina and Selphie in spaaace.

 So, once you've been shot into space out of a giant future gun, how do you stop?

 Allow me to show you.

 Each green... wafer? I guess, I'm not really sure what you'd call them. Either way, they appear to be some kind of force field that reduces acceleration. Presumably there are so many of them to stop the people in the capsules from dying because of the sudden change of acceleration that a sudden stop would cause.

 This seems like a funny time to start caring about that, because, as previously stated in Part Fifty Seven, the launch would kill them. Sudden changes in acceleration don't just harm and kill when it's a sudden stop, but also at a sudden start, which is what a space gun would do.

 Another problem here is that, as you can see in the first picture, they have a bunch of these things out. Which leads me to believe that they don't actually know what the trajectory of each capsule is consistently.

 How... how exactly could they take this risk?

 What if it missed?

 It'd destroy the space station if it happened to hit it, the acceleration has to be pretty damn high on these things in order to break free from the Earth's gravity. Also, these things cannot stop themselves.

 They are incapable of stopping themselves. They're not rockets, just capsules, and the people inside of them are unconcious. If they have people in them at all, they may just be packed with supplies.

 This isn't just a terrible idea on the ground, it's a terrible idea up in space, too.

 So, if Jules Verne didn't have the answer, how could Esthar manage to run a space station efficiently?

 Two words: Space Elevator.

 Or, Sky-Hook. Depends on who you ask.

 This is a remarkably old idea in its own right, the very first idea for one was published in 1895 by Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky. He originally proposed a tower, similar in many ways to the Eiffel Tower which inspired the idea, that would reach up to an altitude of 35,790 kilometres. This would mean that the top of the tower would be in geo-stationary orbit.

 Personally, I feel as though this specific version of the idea fits a Final Fantasy world best, as they do have a thing for freakishly tall towers in the series. It's also a big thing in fantasy as a genre.

 There is a second version that works on a slightly different principle.

 This is the Sky-Hook version, or the Space Elevator that we think of these days.

 Taking Tsiolkovsky's original idea, another Russian scientist named Yuri N. Artsutanov reworked it into a satellite that lowers a cable down to Earth that would tether them together. The term Sky-Hook comes from a team of American scientists who worked on figuring out what kind of materials would be needed in order to build such a structure.

 If you've encountered the idea, it's probably partly because of a book by Arthur C. Clarke called The Fountains of Paradise that was published in 1979. (Amusingly, it was published almost simultaneously with another book featuring a space-elevator by Charles Sheffield. This was totally coincidental, and both authors found it funny.)

 One consistent feature of space elevators is that they're built at the equator, which makes sense considering the principles at work here.

 Well, let's have a look at the world map, shall we?

 Assuming that the map is a reasonably accurate representation of the world, the yellow line represents the equator.

 There is no reason at all for why they couldn't have built a Space Elevator instead of a space gun.

 They have the technology, they have magic and they're in pretty much exactly the right place for it.

 Hell, if other people seeing it was a concern, even that doesn't work as a reason not to. One, the curvature of the planet would mostly sort that problem out, and two, we know they have cloaking technology. Not to mention that there's barely anything that can fly hanging around, so that would reduce the possibility of people seeing the cable/tower.

 There's also the fact that if outsiders did happen to see the cable/tower there's no reason that they'd have any clue what they were actually looking at.

 The worst that would happen is the need to defend it, and considering what's at the top, I'm going to have to say that it's worth the investment.

 So, what's at the top?

 You shall find out shortly.

 Once Zog, Nina and Selphie are caught by the... whatever those green things are, they're pulled into the space station by astronauts.


 They're awfully cavalier about the vacuum of space, aren't they?

 In real life, space walks are kind of a big deal. This isn't something they do lightly, but in Esthar, space is more of a mild inconvenience than a deadly environment.

 Well, when it suits the plot, anyway.

 Once awoken from the 'cold sleep', a process that will apparently make them feel itchy, they're taken into a room that gives me a headache.

 It's not the only one that does.

 This, they do this multiple times during this section and it's incredibly disorienting.

 I know why they've done it, but it's still a bad idea.

 The basic reason for having rooms where the floor isn't on the bottom is because there is no preferred direction in space. However, there is a preferred direction on or in any structure that has gravity.

 We have a perception of down because of gravity. Since the space station has artificial gravity, it also has a preferred direction, so we know that the floor is down. The conventions of art and film give us the bottom of the screen as down, so what we end up getting here is a disorienting mess.

 Combine this with camera angle based movement, and it can start to mess with your head.

 Thankfully, this section is pretty short.

 I still hate it, though.

 When medical staff go to help the unconcious Nina, Zog throws a massive hissy fit and tells them not to touch her.

 He needs to stop doing this. It's ridiculous that he keeps complaining about medical professionals attempting to treat his 'she's not my girlfriend'.

 And dragging her around on his back can't be good for her. Just let them use a stretcher, man!

 Instead of subduing the clearly unhinged young man, the staff just let him carry her to the sickbay. Which is also a perplexing part of this space station.

 Why would you set up your sickbay like this?

 You just have some glass between the ill and the cold recesses of space?

 I get that this may be relatively easy to quarantine, should it come to that, but I'm not sure putting sick people in a room like this is such a good idea.

 Speaking of bad ideas, we get to meet Ellone again soon.

 But first! The control room, which we'll cover next time, in Part Sixty!

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