[[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

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[[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#1 Post by shrinkshooter » Sun Feb 24, 2008 7:32 am

Aside from the name Chato'matou'Gormoshk which I really hope gets changed to something more palatable (yes, that's the word i want to use), the idea of this species is what drew me to it. I know it sounds wierd, but I think a lot about sentient crystals. Call me a scifi freak. The good thing is, when it came to this species, which ARE sentient crystals, I had it easy. After reading up on their background info, I can describe the ships a little.

This species converts solar energy to electical current, which they use to communicate and reform their bodily structure. According to the original post about them, they're nearly immortal. Well, not anymore. Their ships are constructed out of the now-lifeless "bodies" of those long dead. Since the crystals do not decompose and are not organic, they sit around, impervious to almost everything except the ravages of time...lots of time. As such, millenia of past generations worth of this species lie about the planet, until now an unused resource. Although the "bodies" have lost their consciousness through death, the physical properties remain the same, and this wonderful quality of the species actually allows currently living crystals to make contact with the husks, transmit electric current into them, and alter their physical form. This allows the formation of ships simply by thinking about them and directly altering the atomic structure of the ships.

Not only do these husks allow for excellent spacefaring material, they also power the ship. The species lives on solar energy alone; when an individual loses this ability over time, it dies. Recently, however, the Chato'matou'Gormoshk have found chemical manipulations that allow the husks to once again store enegy, and by crystalline compression they can actually force these husks to store several amounts more energy than the average individual. Once a crystal dies, though, it can't be "revived" by this process, and so the hulls of their ships are made from these simultaneous protective material and power cells. Specific husks can be designated as weaponry crystals, and through a very expensive chemical process similarly related to the earlier one, ca be altered to store a massive amount of temporary energy that can be released at once. This gives the Chato'matou'Gormoshk extraordinary laser weapon capabilities.

The downside to these ships are that they must be certain to stop at stars to recharge on solar energy. If a ship loses energy, it can be weakly propelled by backup liquid fuel and the cumulative energy of the crew in the hopes of getting closer to a star.

That said, I have here a scout, fighter and light cruiser. I have ideas for the bigger and heavier ships, and they look basically like the cruiser only a bit more complicated and much larger. These pictures are not really to scale, but I guess they could be. Their structure is essentially a bunch of "random" crystals. I say "random" because they were actually purposefully placed in a random order by the ship's builders.

Sorry for the distortion, my scanner made the damn thing a couple thousand pixels across so i had to lose a bit of quality through downsizing. Not a big deal since it's just a sketch.

edit:oh yeah, in case anyone wanted to know (like pd, =]) the modeling of these ships should be totally easy. They'll consist of nothing but essentially a bunch of jagged prisms put together in relatively the same configuration you see in the picture. According to the creator of the species, they're colored a bluish-purple if I remember right, so texturing these babies will be cake: i'll just color different crystal protrusions slightly different shades of blue and purple, give them a reflective raytrace so the entire thing is basically a flying mirror, and bam. Ships. I think it's pretty cool. Naturally any and all input is welcome, as long as it's something related. No, like, "I like shrimp." Even though I'd have to agree.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#2 Post by Tortanick » Sun Feb 24, 2008 1:22 pm

Considering the quite large differences from the original Chato'matou'Gormoshk (perfectly good name btw) description I really think you should talk it over with Kharagh, since he designed the race its the only polite thing to do.

Until then, quite a few things really contradict the original design:

Firstly, a race that has such respect for their elders probably wouldn't use their dead bodies as a building material, again only Kharagh can really say but I do find it hard to imagine.

Secondly even if we accept your major change that they're not immortal, Chato'matou are "about 30 Centimeters in height and 10 Centimeters in width", if they're the primary building material they're going to run out really really fast.

Thirdly the square-cube law pretty much limits them from growing these crystals too much: Either they are limited by structural integrity and if they grow too much they collapse under their own weight, or they are limited by their need for sunlight, and as they grow they have a proportionately smaller surface area to their mass until they can't get enough light to survive, so a full sized spaceship will get less solar energy for its size than a living Chato'matou.
While the first issue makes it impossible to build ships out of bodies, the second could be overcome by installing a fusion reactor instead of solar power.

(I admit the above is a realism argument, and should not stand in the way of anything fun, but we could at least put effort into our techonbabble, something involving silicone crystal and their fine electrical control might work, they come from a desert world so they have a lot of silicone).

On a related matter, I'd actually try to avoid talking about how ships behave in gameplay during concept art, focusing on them separately would probably work better.


On a lighter note your ship designs do look very good.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#3 Post by shrinkshooter » Sun Feb 24, 2008 6:24 pm

Well, the main important things are the designs. Everything else should follow those, in my opinion. Except for perhaps some background info on the species like if they're aquatic or something, but I think in general if we were to be REALLY realistic, a lot of spaceships, regardless of who made them, would be relatively similar in design. Not radically different like "metal terran ships" and "random crystal ships."

Also, upon asking for restrictions from pd, he says:
I won't give any restrictions. In fact I'm going to say, be as free and inventive as you can be, but design for a specific alien race. If you need inspiration: Eleazar has written up a great review of proposed races so far. If you like one of these, think about how they would build/create/grow space ships. You are free to make changes to the races, if you feel so - again there shouldn't be any restrictions. Keeping in mind or imagining how such a race would build(architecture), how they live, what they wear(cloth), etc can provide important guidelines for the ship designs.
If you don't like any of those, feel free to develop your own.
Although establishment of races are helpful to ship design, we most certainly should not follow their creation religiously because this could easily lead to something being at the expense of the game. Remember, many of these race designs are simply ideas to help the game progress, not absolute cornerstones about which the game is built. The important things we need to know about the species are their physical properties. Eveything else, like social structure and philosophy, can came afterwards to help support the designs of the ship. For example, let's say that this species consists of quickly growing and dying crystals and that ship building uses their husks at about the rate of death on the planet. However, since I'm looking at it from strictly a 3D artist's point of view, I'm only considering the race-ship relation, and not the relations between the races and other game element. However, since those will come later in the game, things like inter-species diplomacy and how each race handles it differently can still easily be tinkered with and changed. My point is I shouldn't feel restricted by someone's description. And according to his profile Kharagh hasn't been around since Fri Apr 27, 2007. After almost a year I doubt I can contact him anyway even if I needed to.
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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#4 Post by utilae » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:03 pm

I agree about the difficulty in contacting the person about changing their race. But I think that one person should not decide on the changes alone.

What we should do is have a race design thread where we first decide which races are the best candidates for FreeOrion or which ones we like the best and can adapt if need be.

The we would start on the top race and work our way down creating concept art, adjusting the races background description and other descriptions. All this would go through a design process as well (like how the GUI screens go through a design process and change according to suggestions).

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#5 Post by shrinkshooter » Sun Feb 24, 2008 8:36 pm

utilae wrote:The we would start on the top race and work our way down creating concept art, adjusting the races background description and other descriptions. All this would go through a design process as well (like how the GUI screens go through a design process and change according to suggestions).
I think that's essentially what I've done. Although the information regarding the ships could use a bit of work, what I want people to focus on is how they look. Crystalline ships to reflect crysalline species. Should I keep these ships? Should I do a model of the scout so people can see what I have in mind? Should I change the ships, and if so, how? What would make them better/better suited to this species? If you could change the background of the species in question, what would you like to see implemented in the ship?

Those are the real cornerstone questions. It's good that the topic of the species has been addressed, but I'd like focus to be more on the actual ships themselves.

edit: by the way, we do have a page established on species. I know one peson put the post together, but from my perspective his judgements about how well done each race is is pretty accurate. This is it.
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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#6 Post by Tortanick » Sun Feb 24, 2008 9:26 pm

I know that I'd probably be a bit too stubborn if my races go up against a committee, if I get unreasonable do tell me straight up. And while I admit that in cases changes will have to be made, I really think its only polite to make an effort to consult the original author before makeing any changes or failing that to stay as true as possible to the original design. Especially since its often requires nothing more than replacing one bit of text with another, like the example I used above: Ships made from silicone crystal refined from their sand has the same result (crystal ships) as useing dead bodies, but doesn't require changing the race design so they're not immortal.

shrinkshooter, I may be comeing at it from a race designers point of view, but I really think that how the ships look shouldn't be given priority over the race themselves, ship designs look cool but races have personality, culture and history, its possible to get emotionally attached to a well realised race to an extent greater than the shiniest spaceship. (especially since there is a plan for a campaign so the races and their personalities get entire stories). Good stories are a really unappreciated part of games.
shrinkshooter wrote:Crystalline ships to reflect crysalline species.

Well ignoreing the fact that the Chato'matou'Gormoshk are only part crystal, the I always found that stereotype annoying, there are many reasons why people may build ships out of crystal but being made of crystal probably isn't it, how often do you see humans building ships out of soft pink flesh?

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#7 Post by pd » Mon Feb 25, 2008 12:20 am

Unfortunately, I don't have the time to comment in detail. As mentioned previously, this is not a priority for me or the project at the moment. But I want to clarify what I've said previously and correct some things.
I wrote:In fact I'm going to say, be as free and inventive as you can be, but design for a specific alien race.
I meant this in terms of forms, shapes, proportion, materials - basically everything connected to the design language.
I also wrote:You are free to make changes to the races, if you feel so
I didn't mean you should make major changes in the race, as you did. What I basically meant is, if the visual description isn't artistically promising, you are free to do the necessary changes. The visual instincts of the authors from the story board are often somewhat lacking(no offense).
Tortanick wrote:On a related matter, I'd actually try to avoid talking about how ships behave in gameplay during concept art, focusing on them separately would probably work better.
Quoted for agreement.
shrinkshooter wrote:Well, the main important things are the designs. Everything else should follow those, in my opinion.
That's unfortunately a complete misconception and in a way undervalues the effort of creating a successful design.
I wrote:Keeping in mind or imagining how such a race would build(architecture), how they live, what they wear(cloth), etc can provide important guidelines for the ship designs.
This OF COURSE includes social structure and philosophy just as well. Design is based on those and NOT the other way round.

Product design(for example) is done for human beings. Design fits into their lifes, it makes things easier, it comes natural. It doesn't force someone to act in a strange, uncomfortable way.
Now if we design space ships for a fictional alien race, it has to reflect in our choices. Their lifes, their ways to do things, their interaction and everything that is essential to those aliens should translate into the design, because in the end the player should ideally be able to recognize these things by looking at the ships.

Now regarding your sketches. As it is now, it's merely some form. I don't see indications of function(might be changed, if there were some kind of color or texture involved). How does is propel forwards? Why the wings? Why is is shaped (in terms of proportion) like it is?

I have said:
I just ask for consistency and justified design decisions. Arbitrariness should be avoided.
Justified design decisions, are decisions based on the one who you are designing for. That's what I was speaking of above. The people need to be reflected in the design.

What I see is just the start of the design process - getting the most obvious(but also most common) ideas out of your system. I'd recommend looking at some reference images of the different kinds of minerals/crystals that exist. Maybe do some reading on wikipedia. And then start re-arranging, re-shaping and re-thinking! In artschool I would be expected to come back with at least 5 pages(A3) filled with sketches of different approaches and ideas. But we aren't in art school here. So I just ask for some more work put into this. Take your time, we are in no rush.

Regarding sketching technique: Try using some variance in line thickness and darkness. This will add visual interest. You can use this to direct the viewers eye to the parts you want him to look. Using some indication of tone will also help to get away from the flat look.

Regarding 3D: I wouldn't underestimate this task. The crystalline structure should be well planed in terms of topology(meshflow). I would even say it's harder than doing any regular hard surface modeling.
Putting a raytrace material on this won't work. There is no such thing as real time raytracing AFAIK. What we need is a shader(preferably cg, because that's what Ogre can work with and I think it's the only platform independent option, but that's not our concern) that will fake the refraction. The reflection could easily be handled with a map, although this will make a reflection of a ship in another ship impossible.

I hope I didn't sound too harsh. It's meant as honest critique. Anything else wouldn't be of much use anyways.
In your defense: I think a crystalline race is one of the harder ones to design for :)

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#8 Post by shrinkshooter » Mon Feb 25, 2008 1:45 am

pd wrote:That's unfortunately a complete misconception and in a way undervalues the effort of creating a successful design.
I know how actual design is done. It takes into account cost, efficiency, stress and stability, and practicality. Real-world engineering is quite complicated and complex, and none of us could really come close to it in terms of making something for FO, but we can try really hard, and make what we think the best thing would be. The reason I said that everything should follow is because that's how you guys have outlined it. FO v 0.4 is slated to incorporate ships and models and combat, while the different species are not going to be made until (if memory serves) 0.7. If the entire process is to be built from the species themselves, why is this not reversed? We are being asked to create ships first and incorporate the aliens later, unless I have misinterpreted something somewhere.
Tortanick wrote:there are many reasons why people may build ships out of crystal but being made of crystal probably isn't it, how often do you see humans building ships out of soft pink flesh?
Soft pink flesh would fail miserably in space. Hardened crystals that survive solely on solar power probably wouldn't. They don't require air, and temperature is not an issue (at least it wasn't mentioned in the write-up). Yes, I'm well aware it's stereotypical, and I know this is a bad reason, but I'm biased towards crystals. I like them, and I enjoy the thought of making crystalline ships. Obviously the thought is to start with the species first and then the ships, so now I think I pretty much have to scrap what I was working on. I understand your dislike for the stereotype but next time you should probably pick a better analogy.
I wrote:I think in general if we were to be REALLY realistic, a lot of spaceships, regardless of who made them, would be relatively similar in design. Not radically different like "metal terran ships" and "random crystal ships."
No one can say for certain; we haven't been outside our planet and experienced other life. But my hypothesis is that if I were to start with species and then build ships, they would all have tons in common. They would need propulsion systems, most likely either liquid or fusion. They would need wings for gliding through the atmosphere (assuming they weren't made in and only remain in space) and they need protection from heat upon reentry. In engineering, design follows function, and creativity follows design. If I'm to really worry about the specifics and minute details of every aspect of a species, I understand there's plenty of room for being creative but much less than there would have been earlier. I did make the ships consistent and I tried implementing structures that were not arbitrary, such as spikes for firing lasers and small wings that might house thrusters on the tip for ease of turning (whatever the propulsion might be).

Those sketches were not meant to be highly detailed. They were meant to be looked at as a base. Why bother making highly detailed ships if a rough sketch of the main body gets rejected? If accepted, then minor to moderate changes can take place, I can use a pencil, and I can shade and such. For efficiency purposes it's better if i make a basic body, point out where certain things will go and why, and then submit it. Rejection --> rejection, acceptance --> progression. As for the raytracing, I totally hadn't thought about that. I was thinking in terms of rendering a picture, but you're right -- if it's going to be on a battlefield in 3D space, showing the fact that it has a mirror-like hull would be impossible unless it was baked (which would look pretty bad from anywhere but one direction) or made a kind of pseudo-mirror. So I reject that idea.

If i think of anything else I'll edit this unless someone posts first.
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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#9 Post by pd » Mon Feb 25, 2008 2:40 am

FO v 0.4 is slated to incorporate ships and models and combat, while the different species are not going to be made until (if memory serves) 0.7. If the entire process is to be built from the species themselves, why is this not reversed? We are being asked to create ships first and incorporate the aliens later, unless I have misinterpreted something somewhere.
The roadmap was created with game design in mind. We(artists) don't have to concern ourself with game design related racial stuff, though. We can just focus on the story work, which is already done to a degree. Think of it this way: we will decide what races will make it (first) into the game, by providing art for those we like and providing nothing for others :)
Those sketches were not meant to be highly detailed. They were meant to be looked at as a base. Why bother making highly detailed ships if a rough sketch of the main body gets rejected? If accepted, then minor to moderate changes can take place, I can use a pencil, and I can shade and such. For efficiency purposes it's better if i make a basic body, point out where certain things will go and why, and then submit it. Rejection --> rejection, acceptance --> progression.
I understand - however, if you are going to present a sketch to an audience, you should always bring it to a presentable finish to avoid misunderstandings. If I'm doing preliminary sketches for something, which are only meant to personally explore an idea, those sketches are obviously different then sketches I'm going to show someone else to present the actual idea.
For such initial work, it's by the way a good idea to work just with silhouettes. Don't concern yourself with any details or even lines. Just use a brush or marker and draw black shapes. This is all about graphic design and proportion. The silhouette of a ship is what reads first from far distance and therefor most important. It should be well developed.
I did make the ships consistent and I tried implementing structures that were not arbitrary, such as spikes for firing lasers and small wings that might house thrusters on the tip for ease of turning (whatever the propulsion might be).
See, I couldn't know this. It's not presented properly, it's just some shapes in the sketches above.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#10 Post by Tortanick » Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:21 am

Glad to see your in agreement PD :)
shrinkshooter wrote: Soft pink flesh would fail miserably in space. Hardened crystals that survive solely on solar power probably wouldn't.
Relitive material properties wasn't the point ;) the point was that if crystal species use crystal ships just because they're crystalline, shouldn't humans grow organic ships Zerg style just because we're organic flesh based creatures?
I wrote:I think in general if we were to be REALLY realistic, a lot of spaceships, regardless of who made them, would be relatively similar in design. Not radically different like "metal terran ships" and "random crystal ships."
Even if a lot of races do have mostly functional ship designs that can be varied quite a bit, for example rather than the traditional long spaceship, have one that's short and wide or tall.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#11 Post by shrinkshooter » Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:39 am

Tortanick wrote:Even if a lot of races do have mostly functional ship designs that can be varied quite a bit, for example rather than the traditional long spaceship, have one that's short and wide or tall.
And here is where we muck through the science of aerodynamics. Notice how all cars have essentially the same design? How all fighter jets look very similar? How all boats are very closesly related? Within certain parameters you have some room for creativity. But you won't see anyone designing unique cars that are thirty feet tall, for instance. Same with ships. If it's going to be tall, you'd have to proportionally increase its other features so it's still physically stable and practical. I know I'm just focusing on that one aspect but it's an example. A "short and wide" ship is basically the layout of fighter jets; you need something to glide on. Tilt it 90 degrees sideways to make a tall ship and you have lose of lift. But I know exactly what you mean, I know you're essentially saying that even though they might have a lot in common there is still enough room to make each species' ships relatively unique. I'm just a little disappointed that in all liklihood, when someone looks at some of the ships it won't be anything they haven't seen dozens of times before, regardless of how "original" it is (there comes a point in time where different things aren't original but simply different looks to the same old fundamental base).
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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#12 Post by Tortanick » Mon Feb 25, 2008 9:58 am

Aerodynamics? What areodynamics, there is no air in space, most ships don't ever land either.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#13 Post by shrinkshooter » Mon Feb 25, 2008 10:56 am

Well, I like to make the assumption that most ships from time to time need to enter the atmosphere and land on a planet. I know this can easily be made not so; but I like to think of it this way: assume all life starts out on a planet, so it starts out in an environment with gravity. As such, the species is used to gravity and atmosphere (assumption 2: life begins on planets with atmosphere), and so designs first flying vehicles with these in mind. In order for ships to totally disregard areodynamics, they'd have to be constructed in and remain in space. Detrimental effects usually occur to one's body in zero G, at least for us, because we're used to gravity. zero-G makes us weaker. Naturally, if we assume species with interstellar capabilities have designed artificial gravity generation, then all this goes out the window. :mrgreen:
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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#14 Post by Tortanick » Mon Feb 25, 2008 3:01 pm

Trust me on this one, any sane spacefareing race will have two distinct classes of ships, those that land on planets, and those that don't.

For starters there is the cost in fuel, look at a NASA space shuttle, it burns more fuel in take of than it dose in an entire trip to and from the moon, heck the fuel tanks used only in take-off are bigger than the shuttle. Even with advanced engines moving a large ship into orbit would be hugely expensive.

Then you have the design issues, you need to make sure that it can withstand the heat of reentry, not to mention the massive air resistance, this is far more than planes (ever seen a jet burn red hot from air resistance), you'll have to design you ships not to break apart from the stress, right angles and flat front facing surfaces are a big no. And all the fuel needed for re-entry, that needs to be stored somewhere, along with the extra engine power. If you are trying to build a warship you don't want to remove guns and ensure the armour works for planet landing and take-off, you want to design exclusively for its intended purpose. Even trade ships will probably dock with space stations and specialised lightweight ships ferry to and from the surface, rather than wasting fuel carrying jump drives and crew quarters to and from the planet. (especially after space elevators are built).


Note: later on races in free orion do develop gravity manipulation, including zero gravity corridors to assist take-off, however when you weigh nothing its easy enough to land and take-off in perfect safety, so designers will still focus souly on the primary purpose of the ship, safe in the knowledge that whatever they come up with, zero-g landing and take-off will work anyway.

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Re: [[Concept]] Ships for Species: Chato'matou'Gormoshk

#15 Post by utilae » Mon Feb 25, 2008 8:06 pm

Ok, so I agree with Tortanick. Ships would be built in space, at a spacestation or shipyard. There is no point in the ship having its own ability to travel through the atmosphere. Colonies will have space elevators for that if need by. But with artificial gravity (likely assumed that all races have this at the start) there are no health effects now from space. So ships are built in space. And they can be designed in whatever wacky result they need to be designed in.

The only reason all vehicles on earth look very similar is because of the limits of what works in the environment. It has been tried to have funny shaped planes, etc but these were not successful because the environment would not allow it. But in space, shape does not matter. So I bet you that an industry would differentiate ship designs more in space, cause they can. Looks will vary as a means to sell their ships under their style of design.

But overall, for a race, you have to keep a similar theme. For example, if a race uses alot of spherical shapes, then this will be common in all ship designs. But the same shape will not be used with minor changes at different sizes. Major changes in shape are still possible between sizes, as long as all designs have spherical shapes be a common factor.

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