Aliens that look alien.

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Space Krill
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Re: Aliens that look alien.

#16 Post by Jish » Mon Oct 26, 2009 11:18 am

As a student studying biology at Newcastle University I would like to throw my (meager) weight behind a few concepts. I think when designing aliens that look realistic (i.e. not an incomprehensible blob and not a human with some forehead ridges) it would behoove all designers to bare in mind a few biological principals:

-Form follows function and function follows form. Nature tends not to tolerate useless physical features unless they are vestigial traits from the creatures evolutionary history (snakes with hipbones, flightless birds with wing muscles etc.). Don't design aliens that look cool but neglect the practical aspects. Your Chitinous bug-like alien may be overflowing with bad-assitude but remember, how does it speak, eat, defecate, reproduce, and how does it scratch it's back? (laugh now but lets see how long a species lasts without being able to get rid of exoparisites!

- every creature is well adapted to it's environment. They might be interdimensional beings from the depths of the ether realm, but at one point your alien was just another dumb critter that had to survive it's environment. keep in mind how your alien came about (using point 1).

-Convergent evolution. Look at the shark, the dolphin and the ichthyosaur. A fish a mammal and a reptile all with remarkably similar structure. They all needed to exploit the same environment (open ocean) and they all naturally evolved into the most efficient form to do so. Don't be afraid to look to earths organisms to research the way they have overcome specific problems. This doesn't mean a copy-pasta of animal bits, like a Frankenstein monster made out of the remains of a cluster bombed zoo. Use with restraint. Use these references as guides and inspiration.

-Personal note. Think outside the square! Think of some wildly different ways that life could have come about. What would it be like if life evolved on a sun? what would an alien that photosynthesizes look like? What about a species with three or more sexes or intelligent life that has evolved from a parasite? It is likely that most of your ideas will not be practical but when you free your mind to the endless possibilities there is always the chance that you come up with a real gem. (my favorites were always the silicoids)

In my opinion the best aliens are the believable ones. We can solve some of these problems mentioned above (portrayal of emotion etc.) if we create creatures that really could exist. I think the rest will follow naturally. I hope this guide helps. I would be happy to answer any questions about biology if anyone thinks they will be relevant or expand on any points if people think a further guide would be useful.

Space Krill
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Re: Aliens that look alien.

#17 Post by silbrulf » Sun Sep 04, 2016 9:02 am

i apologize for my *s*h*lery... but i am one. aliens that look alien? first im going to dispute eleazar (truly alien "humanoids):

The Gel'rah'ii (lit. "we formed of earth") are one of two intelligent lifeforms on their homeworld, Gel. The world is a barren wasteland from a multimillenial war with the other intelligent life, whom they call (simply enough) "the invaders". As the species share no language or even biology there has been no way to communicate.
Gel was once a mineral and organics rich world with a massive ecosphere. The Gel'rah'ii evolved in this evironment from a now, recently, extinct species of (mammalian fur, avian reproduction, reptilian metabolism, with a tree-frog type dermal poison to which the species and, by extention, the Gel'rah'ii are immune...) "mamavitilious"? vertebrates. This evolution gifted the Gel'rah'ii with a slender body, ideal for jungles and climbing, a prehensile tail, four long limbs (about the length of the body from "scent receptor" to tail base, and each possessing four digits of four joints each and counter-opposable... like an "X" where the tips all meet in the middle) with nearly 280 degree shoulder motion and four "single-joint" elbow/wrists, and a skull attached to an extremely flexible extended spine (the neck being as long as a limb-span) capable of 190 degree rototion. They developed a form of trinary vision in which one eye sees light in a spectrum similar to humans, one sees in infrared and ultraviolet as well, and the third eye "sees" variations in thermal radiation; this vision gives the Gel'har'ii greater depth perception and excellent hunting and foraging abilities than many other species throughout the galaxy. Their "face" is tipped with a scent receptor located in front of and below a mouth that is bottom hinged and filled with crystaline mineral teeth designed for carnivorous feeding. This face is extended out from the base of the skull (which is attached to the neck at the rear, not bottom, despite evolution into an erect, bipedal organism).
The Gel'rah'ii developed technology in response to a mythical blight that forced many of their traditional prey to die off, leading to a predatory arms race in which the Gel'rah'ii advanced scientifically rather than biologically (as their competition did). Eventually, the famine ended and new prey species emerged; but by this point the Gel'rah'ii had either domesticated or eradicated all other predator species and had the beginnings of an early "bronze-age" (the metallurgical era in their own history) civilization.
As the Gel'rah'ii reached the crystallurgical era (comparatively, the early "space-age") the gained the attention of the invaders, who sought the very same minerrals that the Gel'rah'ii used in their computers, stellar drives, and virtually every major technology they possessed. The invaders arrived, laying waste to anything in their path, and forced the Gel'rah'ii to seek space with the secrets of producing their unique crystal minerals... The Gel-bound still fight on valiantly, but they know that if their stellar and frontier mates dont succeed in pressing their technology to new levels, they will fall as well. Only the knowledge that the invaders will never learn the crystal technology from them is a comfort.

--- I'll do this simple... "I hereby affirm that the Gel'rah'ii and all associated elements are my own creation and hereby grant usage rights to any individual for any purpose, whether commercial, private, or other."

Now... for all of the "aliens can only be understood in human context" people:

<Excerpt From A Record Excavated From Dig Site 113.42-OPO; Translation questionable>
... the Kilec are NOT insectile! They are more like a kind of land dwelling crustacean. While this may seem to be an insignificant distinction to you, to a scientist it is vital. In fact, even to call them a crustacean is wrong. The Kilec have evolved into something truly unique. We may have begun the expiriment with insectoid/etc creatures milenia ago... but these have become... different. They are just as intelligent as you. Some seem to have even grasped the scientific principle. Our forebears may have sought to create living weapons, but we have achieved something greater. They have evolved two, independant, four chambered hearts. They have lungs, true digestive tract, multi-lobed brain with a vertebrate nervous system beneath their exoskeleton. THEY HAVE AN ENDOSKELETON! MUSCLE STRUCTURE! The Kilec are a created sentient species. They have opposable digits on both their main and chest forelimbs. Their four hindlimbs are capable of grasping nearly perfectly smooth surfaces... I swear i caught one crawling up the energy field. I cant prove it and it was just a glimpse, but we added a deterent field to the top and bottom... just in case.
<Further Into The Same Document; Translation still questionable>
... Apparently, the Kilec escaped their containment field... and no, we were not aware that any of them had adaptive camoflage. Why? Because they dont. We found evidence that the Kilec scientist caste (yes, a caste of scientists) had discovered how to create adaptive shielding and the (again, yes) Engineer caste mass produced it for the Warriors. We captured a Commander (Yes...) but we have no way to interrogate it. The Biologists say the Kilec communicate through a combination of pheromones, ultrasonic sound, and body vibration that our current level of tech just cant pick up. We cant just assume hostile intent, however. The security records show the Kilec breaking into the armory, yes (and yes, they clearly are intelligent enough to use everything they took... after all, they stole both a shuttle and a COLONY WARPSHIP!) but those same records show the Kilec firing only AFTER being fired upon, AND using stun settings when possible and switching to fatal only when left with no other option. My recommendation? Let the critters go. What harm can a hive of only 500 do anyway?
<An image at the bottom, faded but crisp, shows what seems to be a large arachnoid/crustaceoid firing a strange weapon at heavily armored soldiers. The ground appears to be littered with the corpses of more soldiers and the return fire appears utterly ineffective.>

--- AND again..."I hereby affirm that the Kilec and all associated elements are my own creation and hereby grant usage rights to any individual for any purpose, whether commercial, private, or other."

Alien is alien... alien is different. Not unknowable or incomprehensible. But it IS different. Just putting fur, tail, and squirrel ears on a girl doesnt make her alien... just a furry. :shock:
Everyone... OPEN YOUR MINDS TO EACH OTHER! BE WILLING TO BEND! honestly i dont mind having lovecraftian nightmares... but i dont want that to be my ONLY alternative to bland humans either.

edit: sorry for the length... but... two more species submissions! eh? eh?

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Re: Aliens that look alien.

#18 Post by Vezzra » Sun Sep 04, 2016 10:47 am

@silbrulf, you are aware that you replied to a discussion that took place almost nine years ago, right (the post directly prior to yours, which is from 2009, already has been thread necromancing)? Practically all of the original participants of that discussion left the project years ago. If you want to provide some new species ideas, better post them in the story subforum.

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