Yes, I'm afraid I wasn't even bothering to consider optimizations like helix-simulating rakes -- plain stupid brute-force proof of concept seems like the only reasonable way to go.Sphenocorona wrote:It would still be possible to make a helix gun which ignores the extreme repetitiveness of the helix, and naively builds each part with a different set of guns. It would admittedly be extremely bulky and ugly, but it'd work.
All of these self-constructing spaceship patterns conveniently contain workable suggested recipes for most of their pieces (just not the Herschels in the waterbear and centipede, the pi climbers in the Caterpillar or the bi-loaves in the HBK, which luckily are all fairly trivial to construct).Sphenocorona wrote:A better way to make the required gliders for constructing the helix is found in the waterbear itself: Use a number of toggle-able edge-shooting xWSS guns to produce a helix which burns at the required velocity.
Once a helix starts burning, it doesn't seem like a good idea to allow it to stop again. Just put in one high-period edge-shooter gun for each *WSS in a long, gradually narrowing helix -- each stream of *WSSes ends just before the partial built-so-far front of the ship picks up the construction. The guns could use the same recipe as the waterbear, for safety's sake -- two NEward gliders plus a sideways spaceship for the LWSSes, etc.
But that's the easy part. Once a given stream of gliders, glider/loaves, beehives, or whatever is being generated at the front of the helix, the Herschels will need to be placed at the right location in the stream, and the Herschels' output gliders will have to be absorbed or shot down until other nearby Herschels or other structures are in place to take over that job. With luck there's a way to design edge-shooter guns to drop Herschels in the right places, but I think they might tend to get in each others' way quite a bit.
An interesting idea would be to build a huge stable seed constellation in the triangular "Tower of Hanoi" area. As glider streams from the burning helix first enter an area, the first glider in each stream triggers a seed constellation that collapses into a Herschel in the right location to burn following gliders in the stream. Hey presto, a freeze-dried waterbear comes back to life! (Real-life waterbears can do something vaguely similar, I understand.)
... Getting the various rakes to start up and support each other correctly will be a huge mess, though. It's "just" a matter of dropping blocks or sending gliders to absorb early rake output until other components can catch up, but there's no guarantee there will be room to do that easily.
In general these megafauna guns are great fun to think about, but they're orders of magnitude more complicated than the original spaceships -- which were already a plenty big enough headache, really. An HBK gun is a little bit tempting, actually, but only because it would be so (relatively) simple: no moving parts to speak of...!
But I think the next item on my To-Do list that's anywhere near this complexity is a quadratic-growth replicator, not any kind of monster gun.