Endless ammo and other inconsistencies

Discussion in 'Voyager' started by Savage Dragon, Jan 30, 2014.

  1. M

    M Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Is this documented anywhere or just speculation on your part?

    EDIT: Which reminds me: Does anyone here know a good behind-the-scenes book about the production of Voyager? I'd love to read about the conception and the thoughts behind some creative decisions.
     
  2. Bry_Sinclair

    Bry_Sinclair Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Even though the bare bones of the shows concept makes the former a more logical--and ultimately far more interesting--direction to go. Such a shame, as I think VOY is the Trek series that had lots of potential but just poorly executed.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    That's what I'm trying to get across here. The network didn't want continuity, so they were required to drop it without explanation. At least, that's what I believe happened. There's certainly plenty of precedent in other cases of network meddling in TV shows.
     
  4. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    True, networks can love to interfer from time to time. But the premise seemed to lean more towards some form of serialised storytelling. As a writer if you wanted to change something you had established earlier in a book or series of books wouldn't you at least address why/how that thing you established earlier is no longer relevant?
     
  5. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    You're still not getting my point. What the writers/producers of a TV show may want to do is one thing. What they are allowed to do is another. The producers of a network television show almost never have full creative control over the show. They are required to conform to the "notes" they receive from their superiors at the studio and the network. So what they want to do is often beside the point. If they wanted to mention the shortages or explain why they no longer existed, that would not matter if the network insisted they just ignore it. Network interference is not "from time to time," it is a constant, everyday reality of television production.
     
  6. DavidGutierrez

    DavidGutierrez Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

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    As a writer, of course. But, the show was not run by writers. The writers were told "no, don't worry about that, just move on" and they had to do what they were told.

    I would also argue that it was not just the network holding VOY down, but Berman and Braga as well. Ronald D. Moore's swift entry to and exit from VOY is evidence of that, especially given his comments about the writers' room and Braga in particular.
     
  7. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    It's stupid that torpedos are physical objects in the first place. When I was a kid, I thought they were energy, just like phasers, but more powerful, hence they can't fire a lot of them. This is how it was portrayed by SFX as well. This is how plasma torpedos behave as well. Furthermore, they are called photons (particles of light) not "antimatter torpedos".

    If they are physical objects, it begs the question why 50 of these are not unleashed as soon as the battle starts?
    To me, the torpedo business creates the biggest inconsistency of them all. That old game Star Fleet Command had it right IMO. Torpedos-phasers-missiles. But that's too much Vulcan logic.


    As for the Voyager, they could have just used nuclear missiles.
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Maybe to an extent, but I think they get blamed for a lot of things that were actually UPN's decisions. For instance, on Enterprise, Berman & Braga didn't want transporters, didn't want the Temporal Cold War, didn't even want the ship to leave Earth until the end of the first season. But the network insisted on something that had more familiar Trekkish elements, and that had time-travel aspects to enable linking it to the future of the franchise.

    I think Braga ended up as showrunner because he was willing to work under UPN's rules, to be a team player. But that doesn't mean he would've made the same choices given total freedom. We've seen in later shows he's executive-produced, like Threshold, 24, and Terra Nova, that he has no problem with strongly serialized narratives.


    But that makes no physical sense. Despite the conceits of fiction, "energy" is not something that has an independent existence. It's a property that things possess. In order to deliver energy from one object to another, there has to be something exchanged. Really, all weapons are energy weapons. Clubs, arrows, knives, cannonballs, and bullets inflict damage by delivering kinetic energy to a target. Bombs and missiles do their damage with chemical energy. Energy is, in effect, the payload of a weapon. There has to be some mechanism to deliver it.


    They are not called photons, they are called photon torpedoes. According to The Making of Star Trek, photon torpedoes were originally intended to be "energy pods of matter and anti-matter contained and held temporarily separated in a magno-photon force field." Which was often interpreted in fandom to mean that they had no physical casing, that they were pure force field bubbles containing the matter and antimatter, but that doesn't make sense; what was generating the force field? Still, they were always meant to be antimatter weapons, despite the shorthand name.


    I don't understand the premise of the question. Since they are physical objects, then that means the supply of them is limited; therefore you wouldn't want to use them unless you had to.

    Besides, 50 would be overkill. An antimatter warhead is far more powerful than a nuclear warhead. Just one photon torpedo should be enough to destroy a city, let alone an unshielded starship. (Although unfortunately too many TV writers are lazy and treat them as basically equivalent to cannonballs.)

    Not to mention that antimatter is a rare and valuable resource. It's extremely sparse in naturally occurring forms -- of course, since it's destroyed by interaction with matter -- and it's difficult to manufacture. It's not something you throw away willy-nilly.
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2014
  9. doubleohfive

    doubleohfive Fleet Admiral

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    This is an excellent point and one worth remembering when we fans start to harp on Voyager and Enterprise having not "lived up" to what TNG and DS9 were.

    The Original Series, Voyager and Enterprise all had to contend with both the studio notes and the network notes.

    TNG and DS9, being syndicated shows, never had to worry about or deal with network notes; they only had to deal with the studio. There was no "network" to report to.

    It sounds trivial, but if those shows were run like the syndicated show I worked on, (Legend of the Seeker) then trust me - it's a whole extra layer of beaurocracy to deal with that can sometimes double the changes, ideas, suggestions, and work on a given episode script and then later the episode cuts that would be submitted for approval prior to final playback and broadcast.
     
  10. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    And of course TV execs come and go. So maybe the lessons are never learned about too much interferrence. Like with anything sometimes it can work sometimes it doesn't.

    I'm not so sure on the idea of spending the entire first season(maybe the first half dozen episodes) of ENT on Earth, but it comes down to the execution.
     
  11. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    It makes sense within the universe, not real world. When I say energy, I mean something along the lines of particles or plasma. Phaser is after all Phase Energy Rectification, not a laser, but a some sort of stream of particles.

    As for your second argument, I just don't buy it. Listing cost as a reason or scarcity as a reason why they don't use them much makes no sense when lives are at stake. The premise of my question was this:

    If torpedos are, for all intents and purposes, semi-guided missiles with m/am warheads, why don't they stock 10,000 of them on the Enterprise, so when it's faced with two Romulan Warbirds, they can fire off ten, then reload, and six seconds later, fire another ten at the other bird and get it over with?

    Or why doesn't the Enterprise-E unleash dozens upon dozens of these at the two Son'a ships?

    Why doesn't Riker order couple of patern "Sieras" at the Klingon BoP in Generations?

    Why the heck are they glowing?

    90% of battles seen on screen would make more sense if they were energy weapons -the launchers "making" the torps right before it launches them.

    Of course, then we couldn't put Spock's body into the coffin.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Even so, as I've shown, photon torpedoes were always meant to be antimatter weapons. The name was just figurative.



    You can't just wish away scarcity on the basis of need. Say that one ship "needs" 10,000 torpedoes to battle the Romulans. What about all the other ships that are fighting Klingons or Borg or Tzenkethi or whoever? What are they gonna use if all the antimatter's been used for that one ship? A finite resource is a finite resource. There's only so much to go around.

    Besides, overkill is not the only military tactic that exists. TV and movies show people firing automatic weapons in continuous sprays, but the fact is that it takes less than two seconds to exhaust a clip at continuous fire, and most or all of those bullets are going to go to waste because it's impossible to aim while your gun is jerking around from a dozen recoils a second. So soldiers are taught to use short bursts for suppression fire and single shots when they actually need to hit something. Conserving resources is part of good battle tactics. You don't need overwhelming firepower if you wield it carefully and precisely. And any resource you waste is one you don't have available if you need it later.

    So yeah, there may be some cases where firing a large number of torpedoes at once is a good tactic, but it would be foolhardy to make that your opening move. You'd save that for if and when you needed it.


    Because with 1960s visual-effects technology it was easier to animate blobs of light. See also the Klingon ship in "Friday's Child" and the Orion ship in "Journey to Babel," which were also just glowing blobs.


    I see no reason why that makes more sense. If anything, it seems a much worse way of doing it. Having to make your weapons right before firing them? That adds too many steps to the procedure. When your life depends on something, you want it to be as straightforward and failsafe as possible. So it's far preferable to have the weapons already made and ready to be launched -- that way there are fewer steps in the process that can be disrupted by damage to the ship.

    Heck, with physical torpedoes, you don't even need a functional launcher. If the enemy ship is chasing you, just drop the torpedoes out an airlock and use them to mine your course.
     
  13. EmperorTiberius

    EmperorTiberius Captain Captain

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    I'm not talking about what's an ideal weapon. I'm talking about within what we've seen on screen so far, the launchers makings some sort of energy weapon on the spot is the only thing that makes sense. This would introduce a believable bottleneck and explain away all the times ships was about to be destroyed, but they couldn't use torpedos. Another example I forgot to list above would be Yesterday's Enterprise for example. They fire off 5 torps and then let themselves be pounded into oblivion. Why? To save torpedos because there aren't enough? Makes no sense to me.

    Again, I think you are reaching with the scarcity argument. Not only do we know the ship had plenty of torps, but didn't use them even though there is an imminent destruction at hand, but after 100+ years of them being around, it's hard to believe they are still hard to manufacture. They contain 2 kg of antimatter, it's not that much for a ship that carries massive tanks of it for the main reactor.

    By the way, they do in a way make the weapon right before firing it. When torps are armed/loaded, antimatter is dropped into them, and they are ready to go. But this is simply not a believable bottleneck: The Galaxy launcher can load 10 every 6 seconds, so in my mind, there is stil no explanation why they are not used more often.

    Scarcity is simply not a logical explanation and Voyager strangely goes to prove my point: they must have refueled their antimatter tanks somewhere along the line, and that's all they needed to make more.

    I think it would be a good idea if Star Trek writers came up with a good explanation if this comes up in books. I hope you don't use scarcity, but something like "sophisticated guidence" is expansive, or jamming is prevelant (although not discussed on screen), etc
     
  14. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Well it's probable they did refuel the matter and anti-matter tanks at some point, but it's just as likely they left Utopia with full tanks.

    But it obviously wasn't easy to replace torpedeo as we are flat out told that they have no way to replace them. So as part of the fictional universe that is ST we are told that the USS Voyager has no way of replacing it's torpedeos, so they have laid down one of the rules under which this universe will work. By basically ignoring their own rules because they are inconveniant they are breaking the suspension of disbelief. Now of course you can change the rules but rather than ignoring them you address them.

    Yes the problems might be down to a network edict but that doesn't diminish the point that it's bad story telling. If we look at ENT S1-2 were laqrgely in the vein of TNG and VOY episodic based. S3-4 went for a more serialised approach. Now sure the ratings continued to decline but in the case of ENT the last 2 seasons were better receieved. So what was different about those seasons?
     
  15. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm sorry, but your argument makes no sense to me. A finite supply of physical torpedoes is an entirely believable bottleneck. A quick web search suggests that the typical number of torpedoes a submarine is carrying aboard it at any one time is generally somewhere in the range of 24 to 36, whereas a US Navy battleship might typically have something like 48 missiles. That's all. Not 10,000, just a few dozen at a time on any given ship. Torpedoes and missiles are a finite resource for a vessel in real life. They're finite because they're physical objects that have weight and volume, so that you can only carry so many of them on a single ship. And that means they can be used up far more quickly than energy weapons like phasers that don't expend ammo but can be recharged indefinitely as long as ship's power holds out. So your reasoning is completely backward. It's harder to justify a finite supply for an energy weapon than for a physical weapon.


    Lots of things about Trek space battles make no sense. They're meant to be entertaining light shows, not realistic wargame scenarios. And even if the writer does work out plausible details, portions of the battle may be cut out in editing to save time or money. But it makes no more sense if torpedoes are energy weapons.


    Where are you getting that 2 kg figure from? That's frankly an insane amount. That would produce an 86-megaton explosion. The largest nuclear weapon ever detonated was only 50 megatons; the most powerful ever detonated by the US only 15. There's no sensible reason to put two whole kilograms of antimatter in a torpedo unless you were planning to blow up an island or an asteroid or something. Whatever source you got that from, they clearly don't know their physics.

    And yes, the ship has those antimatter tanks for the main reactor. So if the ship is stranded in the Delta Quadrant and needs its warp engines to get home, it would be foolhardy to squander the engines' fuel supply on profligate use of weapons. It makes enormous sense for them to avoid using more antimatter than they need to -- aside from the obvious fact that Starfleet rules of engagement demand that only the minimum necessary force be used in any situation, and that violence be avoided altogether if possible.


    Just because it's possible to replenish antimatter, that doesn't mean it's a ubiquitous or easily obtained resource. Clearly they did find ways to refuel, but it's not like there was a Texaco antimatter station at every subspace exit.


    No, that doesn't follow. It simply describes the state of affairs on the ship at the time that was stated. Given that they were under severe power rationing at the time, including replicator rationing, it's logical to assume they lacked the ability to replace their torpedoes because they lacked the power or the parts to run the replicators, not that there was some inviolable law of the universe preventing them from ever rebuilding torpedoes.

    So yeah, it's a continuity glitch, but it's an extremely easy one to rationalize. It's not that big a deal compared to something like the changing number of personnel aboard the ship.


    What was different was that the ratings were falling and the network was willing to experiment. Also that serialized storytelling had become far more commonplace by that time, so maybe the network recognized it could be an effective strategy for boosting ratings.
     
  16. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I think it was deliberately left vague what a replicator could and couldn't reproduce. I thought they could create antimatter but just couldn't create dilithium. And if they can create MINES they certainly can create torpedoes.

    But they could have so easily just tossed in one line saying "Oh, we're at full energy now! Now we can use the replicator to replenish supplies!"
     
  17. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Admiral Admiral

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    ^ I think that the warp sustainer is a part that a mine wouldn't need but that a torpedo would.
     
  18. MacLeod

    MacLeod Admiral Admiral

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    Perhpas Christopher but the line was something like "We have no way of replacing of them." Not something like "We'll struggle to replace them". Now as I and others have said all it needed was a line dropped into an episode to explain away why they could now replace them. But as you said another inconsistency was the number of crew seemed to fluctuate up and down between episodes. Sure all these things might be minor details on themeselves but when added together it comes across as the audiance won't notice these things. And yes some part of the audiance might not or not care, but another part would care. It's not like they could get replacements parts/personal or visit or starfleet shipyard inbetween episodes.
     
  19. Anwar

    Anwar Vice Admiral Admiral

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    What didn't make sense was them saying they couldn't replace them.

    That's like a gunslinger saying he'd never ever ever be able to get more bullets for his gun, despite going to trading posts where they sell bullets. And he had money for them.

    They had all the resources they needed to make weapons, meaning the whole "We can't make more" line is what didn't make sense.
     
  20. Guy Gardener

    Guy Gardener Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    The spent phaser cells from when Sisko got promoted?

    Evidence, not evidence, who cares, but... Could that have been a writer on DS9 (subtly) bitch slapping the Voyagers Writers room?

    Nah. :confused: