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Cerestal
Cerestal
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Cerestal

The Extent of Technology.

Postby Cerestal » November 6th, 2014, 11:38 pm

Sup folks.

It's been clattering around in my head for a while (ever since I saw that stupid .50 cal in Keeshan's quest almost 2 xpacs ago), but just how advanced do you think technology is in the WoW universe? How do you think it relates to the current battlespace now, seeing as footmen and grunts still seem to be viable?

A few things I'm curious to hear about from everyone:

Weapons technology - small-scale (ie rifles, rocket launchers, grenades) to large-scale (That scorpion boss in SoO) and how they compare to, say, magic or a good old warrior charge. All you alliance sc- guys have seen that gnome raiding party in SoO as well.

Industrial Revolution - RL materials such as plastic, glass and concrete, and WoW materials such as elementium, arcanite etc. Steam engines are obviously a thing, but what about combustion engines, turbines and some futuristic forms of energy?

Prevalance in society - does everyone have a portable wormhole generator? Would the average citizen know a mechano-hog if they saw it? Is it prevalent enough that laws have been enacted prohibiting the owning of a Gnomish Death Ray?

Redundancy - Gryphon or gyrocopter? Horse or mechano-strider? Ballista or steam engine? Both are used almost hand-in-hand, so one doesn't have a clear advantage over another. Both require resources to function, for example.

Popular fiction - I'm saying it now - Keeshan's .50 cal is not canon (see what I did there?). :/ But everywhere else, like the Vashj'ir submarine to the good old Alliance gunship have stemmed from outside inspiration.


Anyway, I want to hear some thoughts on such a broad subject. Just a good old 'Blizz is stupid and their writing team should have been sacked a while ago' works.

TL:DR - stop whinging and read it.

LEGION
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LEGION

Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby LEGION » November 7th, 2014, 7:23 am

TL:DHTTPN (Too Long: Don't Have Time To Post Now)

I'll come back to this tonight.

Sergeant Stonzgrinda
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Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Sergeant Stonzgrinda » November 7th, 2014, 12:23 pm

An interesting question. It is impossible to quantify of course, given flying crystal dimensional ships and the V-2, Jules Verne looking rocket here and there. And magic. Magic makes everything doable. We even have magic nukes. Well, one. Well, had one.

I'm not a huge fan of the steam punkish tech here and there, but that is a personal thing. I want fantasy that is primal and atavistic. I have to wonder about the impurity of that neolithic, copper smelting thing...

Most of the commonly available 'stuff' out there makes me think of 16th - 17th century tech. Gunpowder, organ guns and galleons are not uncommon, but remain the province of governments or comparable organizations; orders, cartels etc. Think the British Isles from Elizabeth to Cromwell. Artillery, wheelocks, combined arms, ships of the line... but in most of the country, longbows, crossbows and cold steel are still the mainstay, and in some places like Ireland or the highlands, warfare and tech is essentially something that Arthur or Beowulf would recognize.

Azerothian tech is basically the realization of Leonardo da Vinci's concept drawings, steamtanks, helicopters and all.

Bottom line: Late Renaissance, with magic as common as brass.

Jalsihr
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Jalsihr

Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Jalsihr » November 7th, 2014, 1:43 pm

The interesting thing about Blizzard's writing is that its shallowness occasionally provides solution to what would otherwise be a glaring discontinuity. This seems like one of those occasions.

The difficulty in describing Azeroth's technology level is that it is not at all standard. Between race, city, and even individuals, there are notable disparities in technological capability. While this seems impossible (why don't the humans in SW ever get what the gnomes are doing), it has actually been the standard for longer than it has not. In order to understand why this happens, one must consider the economic and governmental conditions of Azeroth and their differences from Europe of the last few centuries.

Two key differences stand out: governance, and economy. The responsibilities of the state for most of WoW's peoples are very loosely defined, somewhat resembling medieval Europe. The state is responsible to protect its land and holdings, but very little else. We understand that attempts are made by most cities to police the surrounding areas, particularly those providing food/other resources. There is, however, no evidence of any investment in education or development by any of the governments. This means no standardization of curriculum, and no research. If a particularly clever person invents a thing, they control all knowledge on how to make that thing and can only teach those who they choose. Maybe they write a book to pass the knowledge on, but there is no common method for distribution or even a frame of reference one can draw from standardized curriculum. Eventually, they die, their students fail to pass the knowledge they gained widely enough and all extant copies of their work are destroyed. This may sound far-fetched, but it's actually been the more common result of invention through most of western history (see, Archimedes, Library of Alexandria, Library of Constantinople, Sacking of Baghdad, and so on.)

As for economic differences, we see that regions are exploited for resources to provide an immediate push forward as part of a war movement, but there is no evidence of sustained development beyond immediate needs. Further, while the state appears to collect rents, it turns all of that revenue toward war and its vague responsibility towards protection. There is no evidence of state investment in research or continued development. Additionally, the lack of a robust banking system which can track both debits and credits, means the private citizen would have a very difficult time getting a loan. This makes the idea that innovation could be financed by private capital also very unlikely. People may point to the banks in every major city, but these are not banks in the way we understand them. They store money and goods, yes, but they provide no interest on money stored, or credit.

Thus, the issue with seeing all this amazing technology here and there, but not seeing any real industrial revolution in Azeroth can probably be blamed on poor governmental and economic conditions slowing the propagation of technology. Overall, Azeroth is correctly, imo, placed at a medieval European level of development. Fantastic technologies exist, but are poorly understood/unknown by/to the masses and depend on artisan manufacture.

LEGION
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LEGION

Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby LEGION » November 7th, 2014, 11:11 pm

Jalsihr wrote:Thus, the issue with seeing all this amazing technology here and there, but not seeing any real industrial revolution in Azeroth can probably be blamed on poor governmental and economic conditions slowing the propagation of technology. Overall, Azeroth is correctly, imo, placed at a medieval European level of development. Fantastic technologies exist, but are poorly understood/unknown by/to the masses and depend on artisan manufacture.


This. We see some astonishingly advanced engineering which is likely to only be available to the fabulously wealthy (or as Jalsihr points out, as part of a massive war-machine/army). We don't normally think of our characters as wildly rich, but compared to the typical 'mob' NPC out there, we are. Even game mechanics tends to put a high price on such items for 'vanity' purposes. Consider how much it costs to make a mechano hog, or some of these other engineering toys. No way that the typical farmer would be joyriding in one.


Sergeant Stonzgrinda wrote:Bottom line: Late Renaissance, with magic as common as brass.


I think this warrants a qualifier. I think that grandmaster level magic is as rare as the top-tier engineering. Magic requires both talent and education. Getting both in the same place wouldn't be easy. Some races are naturally inclined towards magic, but the average-joe amongst even those people won't be pushing out anything more spectacular than what might be accomplished with 'common' mundane tools/engineering. When I write about magic, I'm usually careful to try to give a sense for how difficult or even dangerous magical practice and use actually is. I try to delve into the 'science' of it to help explain it in a way that isn't terribly far removed from some of our real-world knowledge or cutting-edge research (e.g. the conservation of matter, or the effects of accelerated healing, etc.)

With regard to "magic vs. technology", I think that magic has a small edge on technology in theory, but that it almost always comes down to the practitioners in question. (again, game mechanics allow for 'failures' either in the form of interrupts or resists, etc. -- "sometimes it's better to be lucky than good") On the whole though, grade for grade, I would say they are about equal.

Though, not everyone may agree.... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxFKDzW0qdg

Brewdin
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Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Brewdin » November 7th, 2014, 11:37 pm

When it comes to weapons we have: Bolt-action sniper rifles, combat pump-action shotguns, grenades, mines, flamethrowers, chemical weapons, various types of artillery, powered exo-skeletons (generally large and unstable), aerial strafing runs and bombardments, fully outfitted battleships/juggernauts, even a magical nuke like Stonz mentioned. It seems pretty much everything used in current RL warfare seems to exist in some form on Azeroth aside from stuff like fighter jets or aircraft carriers.

The only reason I can think of for grunts with swords and boards remaining viable is that the ability to create and operate all of these advanced devices lies with very few people. Say, one pilot or battlemech operator for every thousand soldiers. And since only a handful of Gnomes, Dwarves or Goblins know how to create and operate these devices, it's impractical to invest many resources into them that could otherwise be spent on armor and melee weapons that require little to no training at all.

As far as an industrial revolution goes; Since Goblin culture is centered almost entirely around commerce and trade, you'd think it would cause their technology to become very widespread. But I think the problem that's run in to there is that most customers aren't looking to buy anything from them aside from instruments of war such as guns, mech suits (ex: shredders) and of course explosives. The general public doesn't seem to have any use or interest in this stuff, or really anything else overly advanced.

Goblin and Gnomish societies are clearly leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else technologically, likely because those are the only two cultures that fully accept the use of it. You can see this was clearly the case in Gnomeregan before its fall and if they ever let us get a look inside Undermine I'll bet it would be very similar. So, I would argue that a sort of industrial revolution has probably already happened within those two societies, but because of the catastrophic setbacks they've suffered (Trogg invasion and the eruption of Mt Kajaro) and general lack of interest from the other races, the technology is spreading very slowly.

Once the radiation and Troggs get cleaned up though, I hear Mekkatorque promises a mechanical chicken in every pot and a wormhole generator in every garage!

Cerestal
Cerestal
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Cerestal

Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Cerestal » November 8th, 2014, 1:11 am

I partially agree with the weapons part, Brew, though I've had my own theories still. I think over time, modern weapons have actually been left behind. As far back as Warcraft 3, we had mithril being superior to steel and arcanite superior to both of them.

I've always maintained that a rifle cannot defeat at least mithril-grade armour (except *maybe* at point blank range) and certainly can't defeat a shield AND a breastplate. Soldiers still use crossbows and I've had it explained to me just *how* powerful a crossbow can be, so they perhaps can do mithril. My theory at any rate being the evolution of crafting.

A steel bullet can defeat a steel breastplate, sure. Can a mithril bullet defeat mithril armour? Probably not. A stronger round or bolt tip doesn't may it punch harder - but not fly faster. That lies with the gunpowder and winding mechanism that propels the round in the first place. Arcanite most certainly can stop a round made of the same material. And if that can, saronite rounds have NO chance to beat saronite armour. The same goes for things such as flamethrowers. Armour would have also evolved to withstand spellcasting - which among other things is fire. If someone is decked out in elementium, could he survive a jet of flame? (provided there are no exposed parts of his body to the front) Food for thought.

As far as artillery goes, I've considered it around the Napoleonic Era for cannons and ancient Rome for older ballistae. Since the dawn of warfare, it's been designed to inflict massive damage upon the enemy at range, be it ship-to-ship engagements or knocking walls and fortifications down in siege warfare and I won't take away from that. Cannons will always mess you up pretty badly.

I'd like to point out that even an iron curiass could probably stop a shotgun blast. If you RP your shotgun like a Nock gun, you're doing it wrong. :P

/gets popcorn and waits for hunter QQ

Kiraleen
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Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Kiraleen » November 8th, 2014, 1:39 am

Brewdin wrote:Goblin and Gnomish societies are clearly leaps and bounds ahead of everyone else technologically


The draenei would like a word with you. ;)

Jalsihr
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Jalsihr

Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Jalsihr » November 8th, 2014, 12:25 pm

Regarding the strength of armor, it's important to remember a few things.

a) Denser, more protective metals are also heavier. The only example of Elementium armor in game, for example, is the armor made for deathwing. As I recall, this is because Elementium is very rare and exceptionally heavy.

b) Mithril may stop a bullet, but all that impact force has to go somewhere. Even if one's body isn't pierced by a projectile, impact can break bones and rupture internal organs. An attempt to provide cushioning or padding to armor to absorb any kinetic force will also mean heavier, hotter armor.

c) Heat dissipation. Sure, the flame jet didn't burn you, but it can still bake you inside your armor. The metal is super dense elementium with low thermal conductivity? All right, but you'll have to somehow vent the heat being generated by your own body. A soldier encumbered by heavy armor may be impervious to most weapons, but he's still vulnerable to heat stroke from the constant exertion of moving.

Different metals/types of armor have different strengths/weaknesses, of course. Some might ignore all the faults I've listed, but be vulnerable in other ways. Also, the more fantastic the metal, the rarer and more difficult to process. Still, as has been pointed out, anyone can be made an amazing wall relatively cheaply, and a broken rib is better than a bunch of dead soldiers. Of course, there's no perfect armor, but given the complexity/rarity of magic and high technology, it makes sense for it to remain the choice for the front line.

As for the question of an industrial revolution: I keep going back and forth on the idea that gnomes/goblins have actually seen an industrial revolution. They obviously have combustion engines, advanced tools, and even automated assembly lines which all seem to indicate industrialization. My issue, though, is that all of these things require a great deal of fine tuning and supervision by highly trained gnomes/goblins. There's little suggestion, at least that I've seen, that either has moved towards making their inventions more accessible - a key component to the industrial revolution as we know it was that means of production were usable by unskilled laborers, ending the age of artisanry. Gnomish and Goblin works remain products of an artisan crafting process, despite being products more reminiscent of the industrial and modern eras.

Sergeant Stonzgrinda
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Re: The Extent of Technology.

Postby Sergeant Stonzgrinda » November 8th, 2014, 3:00 pm

"Magic requires both talent and education."

Nevertheless, every caster in the game practices magic, and virtually everyone is festooned with amulets. Magic is common place, even if trifling unless the Hand of Metzen makes the casters gods-in-a-pocket.

"As for the question of an industrial revolution: I keep going back and forth on the idea that gnomes/goblins have actually seen an industrial revolution."

I see it more like the Wright brothers' or Thomas Edison's shops. Or Italian machine shops. Low production, variable quality, and very idiosyncratic.

Bottom line for me, is that I do not try to make logical sense out of this game. Not its lore, its technology, its philosophies or its politics. Madness lies that way.

Just ask Thrall, who doesn't know WTF he is at the same time he is supposedly controlling troops.

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