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I started looking into new ways of forcing capital ships to fight in close range for a game I am developing. The game is a starfighter-centered space combat simulator, so having ships fighting hundreds (or thousands or a combination of the two) of kilometers apart just doesn't work with the theme I am going for (as well as map size limitations.) However, I did not want to ignore reality without an in-universe justification that didn't involve handwaving/handwavium.

While trying to create a means for starfighters and bombers to be viable (and not be automatically vaporized by point defenses before they could even see another ship,) I came up with an idea. Perhaps long range point defense systems massively outpaced offensive long range projectile weapons developments (missiles, solid munitions, etc) to the point that ships had to move closer if they ever wanted to hit something.

So, the new issue is limiting the effectiveness of those point defenses when dealing in ranges under 20km (Unreal engine's limit on map size.) One such idea was that the point defenses could not track at short ranges. Big lasers are heavy and hard to turn, after all. But, then point defenses would just be switched out for smaller lasers, right?

Another idea was to use existing equipment. Ships are already fitted with electromagnetic shielding to block cosmic radiation. Could this same shielding also disperse laser fire enough that a small ship would be able to survive long enough to get out of the way?


If you're presenting alternate solutions, I'm looking to avoid anything that needs to be externally mounted on the hull so that I do not have to retrofit it to all of the ships I've already designed.

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    $\begingroup$ You might look at Lessons in writing Questions for future reference. Lesson #4 in particular — your Q (that matches the title) is burried in the 4th paragraph. Then the last para implies that you meant to ask “how can I?” rather than “does this specific idea work?”. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Nov 26 '17 at 1:34
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    $\begingroup$ For the size limit: couldn't you make the ships and stuff smaller to make it seem like the map is larger? $\endgroup$ – GoingFTL Nov 26 '17 at 2:06
  • $\begingroup$ Moving charge particles generate a magnetic field as seen when the earth's magnetosphere deflects solar winds(ions not light), that said harmful rays such as UV and higher energy/frequency light such as cosmic rays sometimes can be absorbed by atmosphere gases particularly ozone. $\endgroup$ – user6760 Nov 26 '17 at 2:29
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry, I wasn't meaning to bury the question in the 4th paragraph. It was meant to be something of a clarifying reiteration of it. And the last paragraph is just because people usually answer my questions with ideas that aren't actually relevant to the question. $\endgroup$ – Arvex Nov 26 '17 at 4:04
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Not really. There goes this saying that you can achieve anything with brute force, and that applies here too. Light has a very, very, very weak magnetic field. Almost imperceptible. Electromagnetic shields would do almost nothing to the path of a laser. However, there are other kinds of shields you can create.
If you're devout on having energy shields, ships could employ a kind of energy shield with a massive energy density. Emphasis on massive, because this kind of shield, despite being made entirely of massless photons, would actually exhert a gravitational pull. The idea is to jam a ton of energy into a single point.
If you're really devout on not letting your enemy's laser lights shine all over you, you could simply just outshine them. Yup. Just veil your spacecraft in a wicked globe of star-hot plasma. Not only would such a shield absorb and diffuse most wavelengths of light, it would also destroy matter as well. Nothing moving at non-relativistic speeds could penetrate it. The downside to this is that you'd probably be about as bright as a star.
Honestly, the best kind of shield a space craft could employ is a physical one. Something blatantly bulky. Something built to take a beating. A metallic globe shield that can mechanically open up wherever you'd like, or maybe if you need to fire at someone who's trying to break through your ten meter thick encasement, you could just purposefully punch a hole through.
Setting a ship inside a small asteroid is about the most efficient shield you can create from anything.

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No. To an electromagnetic shield, a laser is simply light. Cosmic radiation is mostly charged particles (protons, neutrons) moving at near light speed. Light (which is what a laser is) will pass right through, but cosmic rays will be bent aside as they are by the earth's magnetic field.

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    $\begingroup$ There’s nothing to add to this. (other than don’t learn physics from bad movies. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Nov 26 '17 at 1:28

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