Monday, May 23, 2016

Design things: Themed bars and restaurants

So, I've got a bunch of ideas for themed bars/restaurants knocking about I thought other people might like or have ideas for. I figure I'm probably never going to get to build them myself so I actually don't mind sharing, even if it's just as a humorous hypothetical. The first I came up with on my own, the other two owe at least some inspiration to a variety of sources including the gaming themed 42 Alehouse. (To those not local to Milwaukee, it's a bar/restaurant with walls lined with everything from the full VHS sets of various Star Treks, to all manner of gaming books, to Risk and Settlers Of Catan and everything else. The bar TVs, if there aren't sports on, feature anything from LotR to Star Wars to Wii Games played by patrons).

First up, one I've had for a while, the Legitimate Establishment. It's a 'secret' 1930s speakeasy, a brewpub with the main floor playing a super saccharine, inoffensive restaurant. Main place is something like Mom's, specializing in roasts, stews, and generally homecooked hearty meals. In the basement through one of several secret entrances is the Legitimate Establishment, with dress code (at least a tuxedo T-shirt. Failing to have at least that gets you brought to the back to get "roughed up" and receive a commemorative shirt for the occasion), member's list (On The Dole, the military/police/firefighter's discount). Probably back rooms that can be rented or reserved for private use, poker night or gaming or whatever. Jazz on the jukebox, or played live if possible. Probably some historical cocktails from the period such as can be found. Upstairs would have the "secret" brewery, with tours and classes and such. A number of such places exist, although not quite this exact setup.

Up next is the Adventure Tavern. It's themed like the tavern that every fantasy tabletop RPG starts in, with big imitation monster heads on the walls, old fashioned weapons of various sorts, and so on. TVs would be disguised as everything from magic mirrors to scry spells floating in flames. Food is sports bar fare, simple and hearty, with a rotating menu featuring foreign cuisine from "edible loot". Hawiian, Thai, African, Jamaican, the theme is food, spices, and recipes brought in by adventurers and merchants from distant locales. If there's a jukebox, it's disguised as a crazy gnomish contraption or similar. Special events include Tale Tellin', wherein you share the tales of your adventures, either solo or as a group, in a similar thing to karaoke. Gaming would of course be encouraged. 
This bottle opener tetsubo is actually the jumping off point for the Adventurer's Tavern, from trying to figure out what bar decor would make that fit in.

Finally, there's the Cyberpunk themed bar. Hidden back in a basement somewhere, lots of cables on the ceiling, glowing neon all over the place. Prices might be listed in the 'currency of the future', such as Nuyen (used by the shadowrun universe and largely equivalent to dollars), or they may just be regular. I think everything in the place will be controlled via phone/tablet apps (Hacking's always a big thing in cyberpunk). Possibly one of those food conveyors, some secret back rooms for gaming for "runners". Food, I'm not sure. Possibly a super robust vegetarian menu since most cyberpunk stuff assumed in the dystopian future, everything would be soy based? The decoration is easy, figuring out extra things for it is hard because it's so close and yet so far from where we are today. Probably gaming tournaments and such?

If you've got thoughts to expand on it, or your own zany bar/restaurant you want to discuss/flesh out, comment away! I might doodle up some concept art for more realistic things for what I'd try to build.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Interstellar Warfare Wednesday: Mechs?

A new one of these, on a topic I've given a great deal of thought to recently; mechs.

Traditionally, the mech is viewed as a rule-of-cool technological dead end. Everyone loves giant robots, but a box of armor with a turret on it will be far more stable and heavily armored. Boring but practical, the mech just can't compete with ye olde tanks. Or can it?

To preface, we need to look at what role a mech, walker, etc would serve to fill. There are, far as I can tell, two main roles to fill. The first is a direct competitor to the tank, except not. The second is a lightweight armored gun platform intended to support infantry in the manner of an IFV, without the internal space.

Next, we need a few assumptions about how the thing is built. Legs are pretty complicated, but can be broken down to a few main joints. Hydraulics are finicky and easily damaged, but modern or near future high end servos are compact and powerful. Assuming heavily armored joints, the main meat of the legs can be relatively lightly armored so long as it's sturdy enough to continue functioning with a few holes in it. Because anything will need to keep up with tanks/trucks/etc, these legs will need to have some manner of wheel or track mechanism. Finally, legs are still relatively easily damaged, so they need to be easily swapped when damaged.

Looking more at the first style, the spider tank; Under most use, it's just a tank. Legs folded and tracks engaged, it presents a slightly smaller profile than a normal tank, with the option to poke its head up over terrain to more easily fire from a hull-down position, shift to maintain balance during maneuvering, and other such things. Pressed with an obstacle that tracks can't climb, it may be able walk up or down them, and throwing a track can be worked around by shifting weight away from that leg. Ultimately, the spidertank is just tank+, likely optimized for minimal weight for mobility when hitching a ride. If there are other more traditional tanks (such as those that follow the pattern of the Israeli Merkava (MBT+IFV)), it'd share a turret with them.

The second style is the lighter weight mech, weighing a few tons at most. Any smaller and it'd be a battlesuit, and indeed probably is close in size to a heavy battlesuit, though far more broad. The primary aim is to get a weapons platform that can be airlifted or dropped with troops, able to withstand enough weaponry to play bullet sponge while delivering firepower akin to an IFV. Compact size and weight means they can fit places a heavy armored vehicle couldn't. Still, they'd similarly need tracks/wheels/etc to keep pace with trucks and other armor. Could be built in biped or quadruped formfactors; quad is more stable, but necessarily heavier. Whatever form factor it took, most of the time it'd still roll rather than walk if it didn't need the added mobility.

Having legs available makes further possibilities, well, possible. Adding them as landing gear to dropships and similar allows for easier dropoffs of troops in areas that normally would require incredibly skilled, dangerous hovering, or improve the ability to grab and hold payloads steady. Anything with legs can jack itself off the ground for minor repairs.

I've also been trying to figure out how to model these in GURPS, but that's another post.