I am thinking about a game where people will shoot out in space, with different features. However, an integral part of the game is no spraying/spamming bullets. I don't want to have it in a fantasy world, and I would like to set it in near-future where space travel is cheap and comfortable. I imagine much better guns available. However, how would I provide a lore reason to why they are forced to use revolvers instead of hand-waving it or using the actual gameplay reason?
The answer is cold welding. Modern engineers struggle to prevent cold welding in space from destroying moving parts. Maybe your engineers have come up with a coating for the inside of the guns that prevents moving parts from sticking together, but the forces involved when a semiautomatic fires, ejects the empty shell, and chambers the next would strip that coating off. The pressures involved in these actions are ridiculously high, we're talking 10,000psi or more. So the fewer moving parts that need to be coated, and the less stress they're under, the better.
Perhaps the most convincing reason to prefer a revolver over a semi-auto in a microgravity environment is because, while both fire a heavy, high velocity (relative to human senses) projectile, the semi-auto also ejects a lighter, lower-velocity projectile.
In a gravity field, the empty case ejected from a semi-automatic pistol usually arcs up and over the shooter and lands behind (and to the right, with common designs, because of the locations of the extractor and ejector) -- though sometimes, even on Earth's surface, the empties go where they aren't wanted. I've heard female shooters complain, for instance, about getting a (hot from the powder combustion) case landing in their cleavage, where it often can't be extracted quickly enough to avoid a burn.
Now, imagine a hot, conductive metal cartridge case getting into controls or equipment. If the ships and habs were built the way aircraft are built, even today, there may be exposed connectors and contacts behind control panels. Spurious control inputs, blown breakers, potentially even fire could result. If you're outside the spacecraft, those cases become "space junk" that could later hole a craft or destroy critical external components (or a space suit face plate).
It's bad enough you have to fire bullets (and something your characters should have to think about, in terms of consequences) -- but ejecting an empty case is, at a minimum, equivalent to hazardous littering (say, throwing a burning cigarette butt out a car window next to a field of ripe grain or into a tinder-dry forest).
If you have to fire a gun inside a space station, the backstop is either a thin sheet of metal with vacuum on the other side, or a thin sheet of metal with devices that keep you alive on the other side, or orbit, where any bullet will probably just keep orbiting the planet until it hits something. Because of that, spray-n-pray is endangering your life and the lives of everyone you care about. Instead, combat doctrine is:
- Single aimed shots only.
- Do not take shots you're unsure about.
- After the battle, count your bullets fired, and find all the impact sites. (And we mean all.)
- Use emergency patches as needed, and alert maintenance immediately to any damage.
Revolvers are preferred in this environment because you can easily swing open the cylinder and count bullets fired. If your opponent (or buddy) gets killed, you need to check their gun as well, so you can't get away with just remembering how many shots you loaded. (Let's assume a semi-automatic with a 7-round magazine. That could mean 7 bullets, or maybe the gun tends to jam on a full magazine, so only 6 were loaded, or maybe it also had one in the chamber, so 8, or maybe there's one in the chamber afterwards that you forgot to count because you're flooded with adrenaline, so you wasted half an hour trying to track down the last bullet hole. Trying to count your shots in a gunfight is a terrible idea anyway.)
Reload time doesn't matter, because you shouldn't be taking wild shots, and if you're facing more than a few opponents, you're probably not going to survive long enough to run out of shots anyway.
Revolvers typically can have larger and wider rounds than most semi and automatic firearms. This, along with futuristic technology, allows bullets to have payloads, such as:
Explosive rounds, gas rounds, gyroget rounds, EMP rounds, shotgun rounds, tracking rounds, and if you want, rounds that allow you to send Nanobots safely over to someone else. Maybe you can make a medic's pistol with that.
Also, a revolver is compact and small, allowing quick movement in a space station's many tight turns and short corridors.
As for heavy weapons: in today's era we have a 40mm grenade-launcher revolver. You could make a more futuristic version for your game, with much of the same payloads as above, but maybe combinations of payloads instead of just one.
Three reasons: recoil, heat dissipation and cartridges
Automatic and semi-automatic weapons, with their recoil due to the high fire rate, provide an unwanted motion system in a micro-gravity environment. I.e. would make it more difficult to maintain cover during a fight.
Revolvers, with their lower fire rate, allow a better control on this aspect.
- Another important aspect in microgravity is the lack of buoyant forces, this makes hot air around your barrel stay there and not be lifted away by the temperature difference. If you don't want to make your gun unusable, you have to fire slow.
- Last but not least, spent cartridges: in microgravity expelling them immediately after the shot has been exploded would result in having a piece of hot metal wandering around. That would pose a risk for the surrounding of the shooter and would also give away his position, in case he was hiding.
TL: DR at the end.
You basically have to answer two questions to answer this one:
Why revolvers and not other weapons?
Why not automatic weapons?
So lets assume that body armor has started to improve faster than conventional weapons. This meant that bullets needed to be more expensive and harder to build. Imagine if your bullets are actually miniature multi-stage shells. Maybe first a small shaped charge needs to punch a hole into the armor through which the next stage of the shell launches a dangerous chemical or small explosive to harm the person behind the armor. So you need larger caliber shells like some revolvers.
The shells can be vulnerable. They can handle jostling and things but the constant pressure of a clip could reduce the quality of the shell, meaning the shell might not penetrate the armor for example. Not something you want when shells are so expensive and you are in a life-and-death situation. So you use a revolver. Its one of the most reliable weapons around and it isnt picky about the type of ammunition it takes so you can easily swap out for different ammo when necessary.
Then lastly, why not a revolver-operated weapon with a long barrel? Well you are fighting in space. Weight should be avoided in space as it takes a lot of fuel to get it around. Space ships are also full of tight corners, lots of different machinery and handholds a longer weapon could catch on and whenever gravity fails or shifts you might be needing one hand to hold yourself anchored while the other hand needs to wield a gun, so better make it an easy to wield one-handed weapon.
TL: DR: So all in all, the revolver is the gentlemanly weapon in space. Its reliable no matter what gravity does and can handle a large amount of ammo types safely while it remains easy to wield and easy to field.
Literal cowboys in space eh?
Production of a semi/full-automatic weapon is a complex thing. It requires high levels of machining and many complex parts produced with a high accuracy. Revolvers are much simpler. There are three moving parts, and aside from the inherent dangers of doing so, a guy can probably build one in a moderately equipped workshop.
This is why revolvers existed before semi-auto and full-auto weapons. They're much much simpler to make. This presents some options:
Production of all projectile weapons is illegal due to danger of damage to spacecraft, so no factory with sufficient machining ability to produce fully automatic weaponry can exist. A black market exists producing lower-tech weapons, such as revolvers.
Personal fire-arms are outdated. All the weapons industries are producing high power beam weapons for space-fighter-craft, and mounted weaponry for mech-suits (the modern replacement for infantry). No unassisted humans can man-carry a Mk27 heavy beam rifle with it's portable fusion generator, and your characters don't have access to military-grade exosuits, and low-power lasers aren't effective enough to be produced. Fortunately there are still a few people who produce old fashioned weaponry in their workshops in much the same way that there are still people who hand-carve bows and hand-smith swords
Some other options (not all of these are real physical reasons, but said the right way they may sound plausible. If your players/audience aren't likely to be weapon-nerds, these will probably do):
Auto/semi-auto weapons are fairly delicate due to the higher tolerances required. If you need to shoot the dreaded fire-beast of Twilop after being crashing your spaceship in a swamp, you want a revolver, not a semi-auto.
Auto-semi/auto weapons have lower tolerance for differences in ammunition, because they depend on blow-back for chambering the next round. As such, the ammunition has to be made in a factory, and ammunition is only produced for normal breathable atmospheres. If you want to fire your gun while in a pure methane atmosphere, you're going to need special gunpowder. With a revolver, you can re-pack the rounds a lot easier, and the differences in burn-rate of a methane-oxidizing powder won't have so much impact on the operation of the gun.
There is no real reason that people would prefer revolvers to semi automatic firearms, and if this is a military force, they would likely want a range of fully automatic weapons, explosive rounds etc.
The reasons for wanting to fire aimed shots are the same as soldiers today use: the ability to actually hit targets, control of ammunition expenditure and the use on manoeuvre on the battlefield (you don't shoot while moving). Wildly firing ("spray and pray") is the mark of untrained people, amateur militias and thugs. Unfortunately it is also ingrained in many people as the "way" people fight with firearms because of Hollywood movies and TV shows.
In a microgravity environment, using single aimed shots also limits the amount of recoil you have to deal with at any given time, so trained soldiers would find a place of cover and concealment, brace themselves against recoil forces, aim and fire their shot, then quickly displace to another fire position. The enemy who lets rip with a magazine on full auto will be spiraling across the space out of control, and likely not have hit anything.
However, if you really want a revolver which is a useful weapon for military and paramilitary personnel, I offer you this 20th century weapon which has the extra versatility of allowing the user to load a wide variety of ammunition for all kinds of different scenarios (including such specialty rounds as smoke, illumination, teargas and even rounds carrying small cameras and transmitters to send pictures back to the user)
So if they are going to use a revolver, this is the sort of revolver they would prefer.
In the Hong Kong Blood Opera genre, firearms are usually limited to Pistols and SMGs. One reason seems to be that the heroes prefer agile, even acrobatic combat styles. You might want to depict a culture where anything (semi-)automatic is considered unheroic, unhonorable and possibly even unthinkable for a mercenary who work for a honorable employer.
Note: Cowboy Bebop was the series which kicked off the "cowboys in space" genre. If I remember correctly, revolvers were the weapons of choice; even the Cowboy Bebop (the spaceship) had a revolver-like main cannon.
Like in the Metro games series, ammunition could be extremely expensive. You want to operate an automatic gun? Good luck if all you can afford are six hand-crafted bullets which are of so low quality that only a revolver will shoot them reliably.
You might provide a plausible setting for the game. Like, you are in an orbital revolver factory when the zombie apocalypse breaks out. Um, did I just say "plausible"? Well...
Forget about the zombies apocalypse, look at Science and Industry instead. Just in space. And without the rocket launcher pistols, tommy guns and such.
In any case, at the start of the game, players are equipped with their trusty Colt Defender and an attaché case (to whack an enemy or to "convince" a scientist who works for the competing company to switch to your company). Players can also vote on what the scientists (the ones working for the own company) will research next (like, better coffee, better defenses, stuff like laser trip mines, better guns, radios). In any case, the resources for development are tightly limited, and there is no reason why firearm development might be arbitrarily limited to revolvers.
Note that the scientists are actually quite peaceful. They sometimes even says stuff roughly like: "These guns...I presume these are used to hurt anybody, right?"
If a core part of the game is that people are shooting out in space, then use that aspect of the world to limit the rate of fire by inventing a technology in the game to compensate for the recoil of a gunshot.
Shooting handgun rounds like we have today in space would move you backwards about 3 cm/S in Delta-V. Someone shooting a whole magazine through a rifle would be suddenly moving almost a meter per second in the opposite direction from their target. That could lead to deadly acceleration or shooting them off into the void of space.
So players need to compensate and they have to load their rifles with rounds and their spacewalk suits with anti-rounds, or gas charges, CO2 canister shots, or whatever you'd like to invent.
You could also add technology so that when they're planetside, perhaps people have an inertial detection field that can block regular rounds fire, but can't block stronger or more powerful rounds. Because of this tech, the older rounds are obsolete, much like only eccentrics use a blackpowder rifle today. The newer ones are so expensive or otherwise limited that people would only ever use a single rate of fire with them.
History played out differently. Semiautomatics were never invented. We often think of inventions as linear, but they aren't.
This may seem strange, but history has several examples of this. Some examples:
What was done first, the moon landing or the glorious invention of wheels on suitcases? https://betafactory.com/what-came-first-wheeled-luggage-or-a-man-on-the-moon-20f8b22529a3?gi=8ed483d32307
The japanese had Horo: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horo_(cloak) parachute thingies for riders that added protection against arrows. It's basic are simple, but as far as I know it was never used outside of Japan.
In the 19th century there were people living on islands who fought with bows, but never invented fletchings. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bGhR7tMDgxg (Sry, I found ne ridden source)
For some inspiration you may want to read: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Road_Not_Taken_(short_story)
It has aliens with interstellar travel and blackpowder guns.
Some ideas for a different history:
Good artillery and airplanes and rockets were invented far earlier. So soldiers were relegated to protecting artillery and bases, and didn't do much of the fighting. All of the resources were pooled on improving those, and nobody cared much about the rifles/pistols basic soldiers used anymore.
There was less war. Maybe because effective Weapons of MassDestruction were invented much earlier and thus a time of Peace (or Cold War) began, were the 2 remaining superpowers just invested in even more deadly WMDs.
Your people were peaceful for other reasons, and just recently war began.
Without reading the other answers (my apologies if I duplicate anything. Let me know and I'll remove the duplicate)...
Recoil Stinks! It would be hard enough to re-orient yourself in space after firing one bullet (equal and opposite reaction...). You'd be absolutely out of control while and after firing on automatic or even semi-automatic. Yes, you could have reaction thrusters compensating... but that means fuel and that means limitations to how long you can fight. Single-shot means you can minimize (or eliminate, if you're agile enough) fuel requirements to compensate for recoil.
The field of battle is dangerous enough! What would happen if not one bullet was zipping off into space, but dozens, hundreds, or thousands? And remember #1... you're slowly losing control of where all those bullets are going. It's seriously bad juju to miss your enemy and perforate your comrade. Or your ship. Or the D.I.D.1
Mass really matters in space! My High School electronics teacher served in the U.S. military in Vietnam. I remember him telling us stories of hauling around 10,000 rounds of ammunition. When you have friction to work with, mass isn't that big of a deal... but in space.... The distribution of that mass on your body would matter, as would the redistribution as it was consumed. Any unanticipated variation would mean thruster fuel (see #1!) and disorientation. If everybody is stuck with one-shot-at-a-time pistols then there's nowhere near as much reason to haul all that ammo around — everybody has the same limitations (and the consequences of trying to have a few more shots than your enemy are non-trivial).
And extra ammo has a really bad consequence. Let's say you could haul all that ammo around! I don't believe you can use standard powder. Yes, it has its own oxidant ... but it's not being used in an oxygenless environment. In space, it would be. That means 100% of the oxidant must be carried along with the powder. This would make the cartridge a bit bigger (probably not much) but carries with it one magnificent negative — when an incoming bullet, which can't easily shed its heat because it's in the vacuum of space plows through it, it ignites! Now let's carry 10,000 rounds for your spaced-up version of the AK-47! Yup, you become this big, honking huge Ka-Boom! waiting to happen. Said in a less verbose way, it's much safer to carry the rounds needed for a revolver than for something that throws more lead in less time.2
Let's talk about axes of rotation. If you think about it, no one in space and in their right mind would hold a gun like they do on good old Earth and fire it. You'd spin. Round and round! A better tactic would be to hold your arm across your chest and shoot past your other arm, or to hold your arm out to your side. This also has spin consequences, by my point is you have a reasonable shot3 at finding a position for firing a pistol that basically keeps you where you intend to be, but a rifle is much too big. You're spinning even after a single shot no matter where you point it our how you carry it.4
Finally, don't give your enemy anything more than possible! Battlefield stories are filled with looting, especially weapons and ammunition. What kinder gift could a dead soldier give than his/her weapon and ammunition to the enemy, who fired his/her last shot to kill said soldier? When you lose a pistol, you lose a couple of rounds with it. Lose a Vulcan Canon, and you loose the honking battle.
1 DID = Damsel in Distress. Yes, guys are in distress all the time, too... but they're not as interesting.
2 Alexei Leonov's space walk would have been much more exciting had he been wrapped up in appropriately oxygenated firecrackers and someone lit the fuse, don't you think?
3 Every possible pun intended!
4 You should take this particular point very seriously. A complete science could be invented working out how to best fire a pistol in space. Pre-spin, taking advantage of existing momentum, minimizing recoil effects.... I can imagine a good position being to bring your feet up and shoot between them so that the recoil simply pushes you straight away from the target. It's too bad you're making a game rather than a story. This kind of detail would be fun in a story, but is almost meaningless in a game, where you'd simply have the good old Traveller skills "pistol" and "space combat."
If you're talking about inside a spaceship or space station, you have to hit your target or you'll make a hole in the wall and lose your own air supply. You'd only want to fire a kinetic weapon if you're absolutely sure of hitting your target. That's not an argument against semi-autos, but it does mean autos are out of the question.
Bullets that make holes in the target with kinetic force will of course make holes in the background if you miss. So maybe bullets kill in other ways, such as munching their target or injecting poison or electric shock or something? And if this is the case the bullets would be large diameter--too large perhaps to fit inside the vertical grip as an automatic pistol stores them. That would therefore require some other storage and perhaps a revolver would just become the standard?
To avoid interstellar stray bullet
I don't know why it would be specifically a revolver.
But there is a rational reason to shoot low Velocity kinetic projectile.
In modern warfare, you typically have a ratio of 100k bullet per killed ennemy.
So, you can imagine the problem if there is a shootout in microgravity.
One easy solution is to make ice bullet mandatory. Below a given size, a block of ice tend to sublimate in the vacum of space.
Problem is that ice is pretty britle (the mythbusters tested it) so it has to be low Velocity
Anyway, in microgravity, you Always shoot straight. An heavy slow bullet is just as good as a small supersonic(whetever that means in space) in most situation.
What if it is a "revolver-like thing"? They've invented personal force fields (something like what is available in Dune) so that kinetic firearms are basically all useless in a military situation. The available alternative is some kind of phaser/blaster/whatever that has all the necessary attributes (6 shots per battery pack, one-handed, single fire only with brief recharge between, etc.)
a simple question of law could do the trick. worldwide treaty could have been made to ban any quick firing weapon.
because of device such a bump stock and the use of thing such as military prosthetic arm, you could easily replicate the fire rate of an automatic weapon with a simple semi auto, making a ban on automatic weapon innefective
revolver would be tightly restricted in there manufacturing, severly limiting ammo capacity and imposing physical restriction on how fast you can shoot.
Combat space suits are heavily armored so that regular bullets can't penetrate them. So instead people use huge bullets that contain a few anti-matter particles that float in the vacuum inside the bullet held in place by magnets. When they hit their target the force of the collision throws the bullet out of the magnetic field so that it collides with the front of the bullet which cause the particles to annihilate and release incredible amounts of energy.
These bullets can be used both against armored combat space suits and against space ships.
The reason why they are used in revolvers or other low-cadence guns is because they are pretty big (limiting how many of them can be carried in a gun) and expensive. So instead of spraying tons of them you really want each shot to count.
Technology aside, If future humans have superior physical abilities, then a revolver would be more preferable. The simple reason being it's completely manual. Even in present day, people can shoot at insane speeds by manually cocking the gun rapidly.
A second reason would be the lack of complex parts, makes for easy maintenance & repair, cross-compatibility between parts of different models, reduced failure rate bcoz the there aren't that many small delicate parts. So if the player is going around all sorts of places, where a repair shop might not be available, a revolver is your best bet.