The Mech Touch Chapter 960
958 Blue Paradisio
People copying other people's works happened all the time. Why not? It saved them a lot of time and effort. Instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, why not steal someone else's design of a wheel and thereby save a lot of time and effort that could have been spent on more fruitful activities?
Even Ves did so himself a few times back on Aeon Corona VII. The incentive of ripping off other people's works constantly beckoned to him, and hardly anything held him back from using these shortcuts.
In ordinary circumstances, the MTA's licensing system did a good job of tracking how much other mech designers copied from other designs. Not only that, the MTA automatically allocated an appropriate proportion of earnings to the original designers.
In general, it was cheaper to license an existing design and use those rights to develop a derivative mech model. Mech designers who 'borrowed' elements from other designs in a blatant manner would usually get slapped with a heftier charge afterwards.
The entire point of the licensing system was to legalize the instinctive act of 'borrowing' or getting 'inspired' by the excellent works of others. Before the MTA instituted the licensing system, the mech industry became a wild west of corporate espionage and endless lawsuits about accusations of stealing someone else's designs or ideas.
The patent systems regulating the innovation of each individual state resulted in a horrible mess of endless litigation and confusion as different jurisdictions imposed different legal standards and customs. In addition, states tended to favor their domestic mech designers over foreign mech designers in pretty blatant ways.
Therefore, when the MTA finally laid down the law and introduced the licensing system to essentially legalize, regulate and monetize the act of stealing someone else's mech design or component design, the mech industry finally became more tolerable for the smaller players who couldn't afford the army of lawyers required to argue their sides of the story.
These days, the MTA's own people and AIs made their own judgement how much mech designers borrowed from other mech designers. While it was possible for the mech designers involved to dispute the MTA's judgement, few did so, as this organization enjoyed a very good reputation of impartiality.
Of course, no system was perfect. It didn't deal too well with concurrent innovations developed separately but shared too much in common. Usually such disputes ended in contentious compromises that pleased neither parties involved.
Another huge hole in the licensing system was that it mainly held force in the public mech markets.
What if someone ripped off someone else's design but never published them on the market?
Mechs designs intended for a specific client usually didn't go through MTA validation, thereby denying the huge organization an opportunity to get a good look whether they stole something or not. Chasing after this low-key, behind-the-scenes thievery required a lot of initiative on the part of the original mech designer's legal representatives.
Another big blind spot was the black market, the frontier market and any other unregulated market. Places where the influence of the MTA didn't extend became the favored paradises for mech designers with loose hands.
"I knew that pirate designers are completely shameless in ripping off other people's designs, but why does it have to be one of mine?!"
Ves gnashed his teeth as he studied the mech model that the Blind Men predominantly adopted.
"Blue Paradisio, eh? Let's see where this mech model comes from and who dares to copy my work."
Digging into the intelligence files provided by the friends of the Swordmaidens, he found out that the Blue Paradisio was a recent work from a young pirate designer called Ronnie Blast. Ves didn't look surprised when Ronnie Blast's record stated that he was an Apprentice Mech Designer who originated from the Bright Republic.
"Sounds like an alias."
The record failed to mention why Ronnie got exiled to the frontier, but he somehow became a pirate designer under the umbrella of the Dragon Alliance.
From there, this fellow pumped out various pirated mech designs that mixed and mashed elements of various legitimate designs into versions that were more practical to the frontier.
As Ves studied Ronnie's mech catalog in more detail, he found his works to be full of borrowed elements that were actually quite decent. This plagiarizer knew what to look out for and had an eye for practical quality.
Of course, the shortcoming of every plagiarizing mech designer was that they almost always showed inadequate ability when it came to designing something themselves. Ronnie's mashup designs attempted to fuse several existing design elements together, but it was exactly in these transitions where his designs exposed severe flaws.
A competent mech designer would have known better than to include these flaws and fault lines into their own designers. Someone like Ronnie who relied too much on copying good designs lacked the skill and experience to replicate the efforts of their betters.
Ves made a judgement about Ronnie as a mech designer. "Someone like Ronnie should be decent enough when making variants of existing designs. However, he isn't capable of making the transition to designing original mechs."
Fortunately for him, the frontier mech markets openly tolerated pirated designs to the point where they became ubiquitous. When Ves once asked Ketis if pirate designers ever respected the intellectual property of legitimate mech designers, she laughed in his face!
"Trash like Ronnie are only able to thrive in these lawless markets where the pirates who buy his mechs don't know any better."
The MTA's validation process would have issued a ton of negative marks on his designs. If they somehow to the MTA's approval to get sold, they would still have to reserve the bulk of their earnings to pay off the forced licensing fees.
"I'll remember you, Ronnie."
Having marked out this mech designer for later, Ves turned back to the mech model the Blind Men adopted recently. They actually incurred huge debts to modernize their mech roster, and actually fell into a somewhat bad spot in the Dragon Alliance for that. No wonder they ran off all the way to the Woolox System.
The Blue Paradisio appeared to be a cross between the landbound Crystal Lord and another spaceborn rifleman mech design. What Ves found fault with the design was that the Crystal Lord depended rather heavily on quality materials and good craftsmanship, both of which the Blue Paradisio lacked.
"The Crystal Lord is a design with strict quality requirements. It's a mech model that's always been geared towards leaders and champions. Ronnie completely missed the point of my second original design."
To Ves, it appeared that Ronnie took no notice of the vision for the Crystal Lord's intended use. He only saw something shiny and crudely copied the design while at the same time cutting all kinds of corners in an effort to make it cheaper and easier to fabricate in frontier conditions.
Ves estimated the cost of the Blue Paradisio to be more than half as less than the original Crystal Lord. One of the biggest faults of this pirated spaceborn rifleman mech design was that it completely lacked the partial compressed armor coverage. That turned the Blue Paradisio into something of a glass cannon.
"The Crystal Lord and the Blue Paradisio fight completely differently despite sharing many of the same design elements."
Ves palmed his face with his gauntlet, practically smacking it. He then slammed his face against his desk.
His Squalon's helmet immediately folded around his head to absorb the impact.
THUNK! THUNK! THUNK!
"HOW STUPID CAN YOU BE, RONNIE?! IF YOU RIP OFF A PREMIUM MECH DESIGN, THEN YOU BETTER DESIGN A PREMIUM MECH! WHY DON'T YOU STEAL A BUDGET MECH DESIGN IF YOU WANTED TO DESIGN A BUDGET MECH!"
Ves wanted to take his gauntlets and strangle Ronnie in person for his abject stupidity! This numbskull didn't even plagiarize properly!
The contrasts couldn't be more obvious.
The Crystal Lord scored well in speed, endurance and armor.
The Blue Paradisio still remained fast, but its endurance and armor both dropped like a rock.
The Crystal Lord excelled in firing rapid volleys of laser beams with its lightened but still very potent laser rifle with integrated crystal builder technology.
In an attempt to shore up its new weaknesses, Ronnie configured Blue Paradisio into a long-ranged marksman mech whose laser rifles fired powerful, accurate laser beams but at an excruciatingly low firing rate. The overall efficiency of its laser rifles barely surpassed regular ones due to the very poor quality and implementation of imitation crystal technology.
As for the sad excuse of a crystal implanted in the chest of the Crystal Lord, Ves didn't even deign to mention them. "Where did Ronnie source these crystals anyway?"
Overall, if Ves read the Blue Paradisio's design evolution correctly, then it appeared to Ves that Ronnie blundered his way by borrowing some shiny designs on a whim. The most egregious fault with Ronnie's design methodology was that he never formed a coherent vision of his end product.
"This guy basically doesn't know what he'll get at the end. His design choices doesn't reflect a specific strategy or outcome, but instead only addresses the immediate problems he encounters along the way in the most expedient manner possible."
There were plenty of great mech designers who managed to do fine without forming a vision beforehand. Everyone was different and some just like to develop their mechs from the ground up without any preconceived notions. They only felt restricted when every major aspect was already set in stone.
"Still, just because there are alternative methods doesn't mean that they are appropriate to everybody."
The Blue Paradisio radiated a sense of quality at first glance. Its design obviously relied heavily on the contours and visual cues of the Crystals to reinforce the notion that it was a high performing mech. Its bright blue coating and markings also distinguished it from the partially corroded second-hand mechs that pirates generally favored.
Yet underneath that compelling exterior, the Blue Paradisio was riddled with so many faults and awful design choices that Ronnie would have been better off copying a proper budget mech design and making a variant out of it to earn some quick cash.
Ves figured that the reason why Ronnie didn't do so but instead tried to design something more radical was because he had something to prove. If he couldn't do anything except design variants all day, what reason would there be for the Dragon Alliance to keep him on retainer?
"Still, why did the Blind Men settle for this awful design?"
The records about the Blind Men mentioned very little detail. They were fairly new and hadn't come to prominence. They shouldn't have risen to this scale so rapidly at all, actually.
"The Blind Men have backers." Ves concluded.
By now, Ves knew that a decent amount of pirate gangs in fact relied on external funding to prop themselves up in the frontier. Those who lacked a backer usually envied those that did, and so tried to find anyone who was willing to fund their activities in exchange for favors and other services.
The Blind Men seemed to be a notch above the bottom feeder pirate outfits by adhering to a cult-like ideology. They widely applied a gene mod template to themselves that appeared to change their eyes into viewing reality at a much greater spectrum than normal.
These changes led their eyes to grow more dull, hence why they adopted their moniker. To the Blind Men, they viewed their surroundings in such a different way that they developed peculiar beliefs in an attempt to find meaning in what they observed.
In practical terms, their focus on expanding their eyesight and training their observation skills turned them into better-than-average marksmen. Their leader, the Blind Prophet, emphasized the recruitment of mech pilots who already specialized in mech marksmanship to reinforce their strengths.
The Blind Men's martial tradition completely focused on strengthening their marksmanship. Devoting so much efforts in training their mech pilots in this aspect and adopting the Blue Paradisio as their signature mech model turned this outfit into a very capable opponent in this regard.
"As long as the Vandals or Swordmaidens aren't able to get close, these Blue Paradisios can chew apart our mechs over time."
Even if Ves brutally cut apart the Blue Paradisios many failings and shortcomings, most of those weaknesses didn't have much relevance as long as the marksmen mechs remained far away!
Obviously, Kaso's Remediers and the Slick Hairs would do their best to cover for their long-ranged fire support. Attempting to bypass their entanglement to get at the Blind Men's formidable ranged mechs would be key to winning the upcoming battle.
Ves dreaded the prospect of being defeated by a ripoff design of his own work. How humiliating it must be to die by such an awful imitation!