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    The shield trick is fairly old. A lot of 3D space games have oblate shields that are spheroids to simplify collision detection, both of ships and, more commonly of weapons. If you’re firing a laser and want to know if it hits the ships, treating the ship as a point with three vectors describing the squishiness (technical term) of the sphere in each dimension gives you some fairly simple matrix maths to determine if the line intercepts, which scales nicely to moderately large fleets of space ships.