Why feet?

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Gyra Solune
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Why feet?

Post by Gyra Solune » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:05 pm

I've noticed that across the board, there's tons of mecha capable of flight, or at least meant for space combat. In that case, why would they have feet in the first place?

I mean, in terms of flying mecha, this basically means the Million Alpha is actually realistic somehow.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Homeless » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:14 pm

Design aesthetic, since mecha designs only vaguely pretend to be any sort of 'realistic'.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by APendragon » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:16 pm

The only franchise I distinctly remember that largely avoids feet is Zone of the Enders; all the frames just had pointy ends to their legs. If I recall they all hovered, even if only enough to skate around on the pointy things.

But yeah, mostly just 'cause it looks cooler that way I guess, and is easier for people to relate to.

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Re: Why feet?

Post by Geoxile » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:41 pm

Gyra Solune wrote:I've noticed that across the board, there's tons of mecha capable of flight, or at least meant for space combat. In that case, why would they have feet in the first place?

I mean, in terms of flying mecha, this basically means the Million Alpha is actually realistic somehow.
The Million Alpha is an even worse offender. It was just a flying torso. At least mechs with legs can stand. The Million Alpha has virtually no realistic flight-functionality and only gets around by wasting its infinite fodder super robot propellent. It's honestly the stupidest design to disgrace Mazinger or the mecha genre in general. There is absolutely no sense to it.

At the core mechs are just too unrealistic, but feet actually have some functional if you're going to be nonsensical. The only reason the Million Alpha is even usable is because it exists in a super robot continuity and apparently has infinite fuel, not that sustaining flight makes it any less of a fodder bot. That brings up another point, even if it's capable of a flight, a mech is probably going to be relying on sheer thruster power to stay in the air which makes sustained flight not viable. If forced to land feet would give it some maneuverability and grip on land, but a stump like the Million Alpha? Well, that doesn't even have hands...Space, perhaps one could argue utility towards systems like AMBAC but once again, giant mechs aren't realistically viable. Though feet could have some use when landing on surfaces, at least moreso than a stump.

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Re: Why feet?

Post by Arbiter GUNDAM » Sun Nov 06, 2011 6:49 pm

Doesn't it have to do with AMBAC?
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Gyra Solune » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:36 pm

I suppose a question about practicality is a little redundant considering mechs aren't practical at all. But that's what makes it fun.

Yeah, I think we're just supposed to take for granted that when flight is involved, that they've made some kind of hyper-efficient thruster system that doesn't require oceans of fuel to work. May well be the reason why every one of the harder and more realistic series have completely land-bound mechs.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Arbiter GUNDAM » Sun Nov 06, 2011 7:50 pm

It's assumed that most mobile suit thrusters are efficient Nuclear Thermal rockets.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by domino » Sun Nov 06, 2011 10:55 pm

I think Arbiter is on the right path with AMBAC. The legs definitely helped with that in space.

Also, except for some cobbled-together MS like the Dra-C, legs may have been kept common because of the recognition that even space-borne MS may need them to safely land on a battleship, in a colony or even during melee combat. Not everything needed legs or even arms which gave rise to the production of mobile armours but given the later advancement to miniature MS then it's clear that the MS engineers thought that flexibility was the most important aspect of MS design.

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Re: Why feet?

Post by Sume Gai » Mon Nov 07, 2011 6:03 am

Feet they're useful for a lot of things, even for MS that can fly indefinitely they have their uses. In melee combat they can be an extra 'weapon' (or even mount weapons like the Arche or Blue Frame) and in ground-based close combat having a good stance can be key. A sniper or support unit might also want feet that give them a stable stance so they can shoot more accurately and better deal with recoil. In addition, tactically, sticking close to the ground can give one more cover and help avoid detection.

In space of course there's something to be said for having a pair of weights which can swing around as their master wishes, Again the weapon argument comes into play and as people have already said they are useful as AMBAC and landing gear.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by yazi88 » Mon Nov 07, 2011 11:07 am

Feet are needed for kicking. Ask Char or Kamille.

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Re: Why feet?

Post by Robertthecrimson » Mon Nov 07, 2011 3:22 pm

Gyra Solune wrote:I suppose a question about practicality is a little redundant considering mechs aren't practical at all. But that's what makes it fun.

Yeah, I think we're just supposed to take for granted that when flight is involved, that they've made some kind of hyper-efficient thruster system that doesn't require oceans of fuel to work. May well be the reason why every one of the harder and more realistic series have completely land-bound mechs.
I don't know about being completely impractical. I think the most practical mech would probably be the scope dog from Votoms. I could see the U.S. military using them if you build them in a cost effective manner.

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Re: Why feet?

Post by Arbiter GUNDAM » Tue Nov 08, 2011 3:03 am

yazi88 wrote:Feet are needed for kicking. Ask Char or Kamille.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Joshua » Tue Nov 08, 2011 2:38 pm

It's obviously not a practical concern. I'm willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the series, but I've noted that I tend to prefer series where more things make sense (e.g. Gasaraki, pre-crazypants, VOTOMS, Dougram). So when a series has guys with legs in space, or hovering around, I say, "OK, whatever, I can play along" But when, in the same series, an MS gets superpowers by not having legs? That really breaks my willing suspension of disbelief. It's changing the rules and starts to feel nonsensical and Suupaa.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Zeonista » Thu Nov 10, 2011 5:49 pm

MS have feet for the same reason our own bodies have feet. It is what supports them at rest, or in movement when not flying. Gyra Solune is perhaps thinking of MS as jet aircraft or perhaps X-Wings with arms, but they are no such type of machine. Mobile Suits are more than space fighters with hands or anthropomorphic tanks, but a new and more flexible form of vehicle.

IN the Universal Century at least, mobile suits were intended to be "mobile" in more situations than just flight. They had to be able to function on the outer or inner surface of space colony, a lunar colony, or even the ground of Earth itself. That meant they had to be capable of moving without flight. In that case, it would be hard to improve on walking! No additional fuel cost either, just put one foot in front of the other, and add more power to jog or double-time it. And when resting in an upright position, the MS wouldn't require specialized platforms, they would just stand there at rest, or kneel, as frequently depicted in the anime. Plus, if needed in combat a mobile suit could land on an enemy base or ship in order to capture it, or at the least facilitate its destruction at point-blank range.

Also, since the MS could mimic human motion in its construction, the pilots gained an easy sense of orientation in motion. The head was "up", the feet were "down", and to properly maneuver the MS in flight, the pilot only had to mentally conceive of moving their MS as an athlete would move their body, and work the controls to bring about the desired effect. Likewise, the human bipedal body moves with a fair degree of balanced movement; just watch any sporting event, or even Dancing with the Stars. The AMBAC system was a technological process of getting the MS to implement functional movement to follow its fully bipedal form. (Verniers did not replace this, but augmented the process as needed.) MS with inexperienced pilots were clumsy and slow to react, but with a skilled pilot at the controls, they became agile, quick, and precise. Newtypes of course could do a lot of that on an instinctive basis, adding to their appeal as MS pilots.

So as you can see MS acting as fully bipedal war machines under the direction of their pilots were able to act in a way outside the previous bounds of conventional aircraft, spacecraft, and ground vehicles. The EFSF and Earth-side EFF forces discovered it to their surprise early in the One Year War, as MS moved about the battlefield in ways they did not know how to easily counter. Some of the skeptical views of MS handling presented here might also have been uttered by EFSf analysts and commanders who didn't understand why the Zeon Military Force was concentrating on the bizarre humaniform machines instead of building sensible weapons like fighters, missile boats, and capital ships. By the end of the Battle of Loum the efficiency of MS with feet was no longer an issue, but only how soon the Zeon MS could be countered on the battlefield. It took many months of hard-won tactical experience, and the development of their own MS force, for the EFSF to be able to win battles against an enemy that was not part of the old mechanized combat equation.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Gyra Solune » Sun Nov 13, 2011 6:29 pm

So it's a matter of versatility and usability. Makes sense. The main reason I asked this is due to a series of mechs I'm designing having pointed blades for legs instead of real feet. At first I thought it was because legs were actually unrealistic from the good old Square Cube Law. Then I realized that I was essentially making a war story with 80s super robots with the main character literally powered by implausibility, so maybe I wasn't doing well on the realism thing and the legs were just there because they looked cool.

In any case, the units I designed aren't meant for infiltration in narrow spaces or the like, they tend to fight in much more open spaces, and without maneuverability they're shot down instantly. I tend to see ground combat as inefficient and slow compared to aerial combat, but then again there's situations where you HAVE to end up on the ground, or if the flight mechanisms are damaged. That's easily the main weakness of the blade-legged war machines- if they find themselves unable to fly, they're basically screwed. I'll keep it that way, weak points are always useful to exploit.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by Zeonista » Sun Nov 13, 2011 7:56 pm

MS appear slow on the ground, especially at a walking pace, because of the size factor compared to the normal human perspective. But they can cover a lot of distance even then, and when running they can catch any human. And that's not counting ground effect movement via directed thrust, like Doms. (There's an idea for you, maybe your pointy-foot mecha can use that for "walking/running".)

Based on you desires, most of Gundam might not be the anime to emulate. Macross or its imitators, perhaps, or Metal Armor Dragonar, which featured agile aerial mecha suits that could hop about on the ground as well.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by InjuredPelican » Mon Dec 19, 2011 7:26 pm

In reply to zeonista, I agree with all you said. I think of the mobile suit as capturing the truly greatest warrior: man. But his limitations is size and firepower. Mobile Suits address this. In a universe where giant robots could fully function, ala Gundam, the human form would be a great choice. It can move in almost any direction, can handle any weapon, and can take on any terrain (via legs for land, thrusters for air, propeller/fins for sea.) Of course this is contingent on a universe allowing for such machines to exist.

As for smaller feet/pointy ends, not a good idea on the ground. One common issue in real physics for such large machines is being top heavy. For a "realistic" approach, the feet should be large and greatly support the upper half.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by HalfDemonInuyasha » Thu Dec 29, 2011 12:00 am

And then you have things like the development of the Movable Frame by Zeta Gundam which only further augments the Mobile Suit's range of movements by supporting a "skeletal system", as opposed to an armor "shell" like a knight's suit of armor like from the OYW, as well as the speed at which they can perform them by being lighter and faster.
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Re: Why feet?

Post by ydawg314 » Thu Dec 29, 2011 5:05 pm

In all honesty the only gundam the makes sense to me is G Gundam where the whole body is controlled by a mobile suit trace system. If this were the case for all mobile suits it would only be natural that they have legs because the human body is used to moving around with legs. Even water where humans don't usually dwell legs can help direct. It is what we are mentally used to. Mobile suits with leg thrusters would serve the same purpose. It would be a way to match human movement with machine movement control. That said it doesnt make to much sense with cockpit mobile suits unless there would be a way for engineers to program the system with mocap or something easier than that.
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