Proc-gen Starship

By Paul Spooner Posted Tuesday Jul 2, 2019

Filed under: Projects 31 comments

Thanks for all your kind comments last time. And the helpful feedback. Even though they were a sensational success, we’re going to be taking a week off from tubes this time. Don’t worry! The beating heart of spaceship design will return! But while we’re waiting for the REAL key to amazing science fiction design that is comically oversized exposed black rubber tubing, I figured I’d try approaching from a slightly different angle. Instead of starting with blocky cubes and then adding a few round bits, let’s start with the round bits first.

Now, there was some consternation over terminology last time. I kept calling these round things “Lathes” which I thought was a time saving and cleverly descriptive strategy. Mystefied onlookers began to question if I meant “Cylinders” or “Solids of Revolution” or perhaps “Compound rectalinear hemi-toroidal faceted bounding nets” and while all of those are accuratethough I have some questions about that crazy “cylinder” idea my favorite suggestion was to call them eye-sores and move on.

Before generating any eye-sores, let us begin, as before, with a completely accurate picture of:

The Lonely Expanse of Space

Despite the impression one gets from 'cosmic' music, I've been told that space hardly echoes AT ALL!
Despite the impression one gets from 'cosmic' music, I've been told that space hardly echoes AT ALL!

Exactly the same thing as last time, but I like maintaining the tempo of these posts. Speaking of tempo, I know what you’re thinking, so let’s just get this right out of the way. I’m not making one of these every week.

You know the party has started when this monster shows up.
You know the party has started when this monster shows up.

Or these.

Your daily dose of cosmic faces.
Your daily dose of cosmic faces.

Or maybe you were thinking of this?

To something something, brave new worlds I think?
To something something, brave new worlds I think?

Because I’m not going to make one of those either.

Or, perhaps this?

Fully identified flying gen five pocket monster.
Fully identified flying gen five pocket monster.

Because, I’m not going to waste any time making any of those things. I know you want me to, but I’m just not going to do it.
So, with that out of the way, let’s play with a simple ring. Instead of going all the way through a design as beforehull, engines, crew, cargo, guns I’m going to just outline a few rough designs for each configuration. So, we have the popular ring-lying-on-its-side configuration:

FRISBEE IN SPAAAAAAAAACE!
FRISBEE IN SPAAAAAAAAACE!

And the more unusual ring-standing-on-edge configuration:

All spare tires, all the time!
All spare tires, all the time!

and the rarely-seen ring-face-on configuration:

Actually, now that I look at it, I've definitely seen all of these before.
Actually, now that I look at it, I've definitely seen all of these before.

And, um, that’s it! I mean, you wouldn’t want a ring-at-an-odd-angle-so-you-aren’t-even-sure-which-end-is-up configuration would you? That would be… um, oh, I see here in my notes…
Hmm. Okay. Is that really what it’s called?
Well then, here’s the wonkus-donkus-eye-sore configuration:

Huh. That actually turned out better than I had imagined.
Huh. That actually turned out better than I had imagined.

The interesting thing about the eye-sores is they have a clear axis, but are also perfectly symmetrical around that axis. It makes the orientation more significant, but also somewhat simpler than for cubes. Not that we want to get rid of cubes entirely. You may have noticed that I’m still using them to adorn the eye-sores, and I’ve got a few new tricks for that as well. The first is chamfering the edges (here we go with the technical language! It’s basically just a first order bevel, which is “rounding off” the edges, but with only a 45 degree cut instead of a fully rounded smooth edge) which gives it that tasty manufactured look. The second is the solidify modifier, which adds thickness to a flat surface. These two can result in some pretty neat geometries. Part of it is the elemental nature of the designs themselvesit’s only a slightly modified cube after all. But another part has to do with something else that I’ve been putting off talking about because it has a tendency to overwhelm all the other design aspects to the degree that one might begin to wonder if anything else matters at all.

Sadly, we’re out of time for this week, so I’ll simply leave you with the source file againAll of this stuff is free of IP restrictions by the way, for your enjoyment.

 

Footnotes:

[1] though I have some questions about that crazy “cylinder” idea

[2] hull, engines, crew, cargo, guns

[3] it’s only a slightly modified cube after all

[4] All of this stuff is free of IP restrictions by the way



From The Archives:
 

31 thoughts on “Proc-gen Starship

  1. Asdasd says:

    I like the doofus dofus eyesores! The angle implies motion, and spaceships are vessels built for the purpose of movement… I feel like there must be a fancy (probably French) word for when outward design and intended function match up like this.

    They also look like Hula Hoops, which makes me glad that it’s time for lunch.

  2. Hector says:

    10/10 Not enough tubes, would procgen again.

  3. Lino says:

    These look really cool! I especially like the ones that look like horizontal rings and the ones in the second-to-last screenshot. I also kinda like the dreidel-shaped ones in the third screenshot – they would fit perfectly in a goofy, parody sci-fi setting!

    1. Ogre says:

      The ring-face-on ships are obviously the best, and all of you nerds need to adjust your glasses! :P

  4. beleester says:

    I’m a big fan of the space frisbees. They have the futuristic UFO look, but there’s enough details to give them a clear front and back.

    1. Ramsus says:

      Same here.

      Not so sure about the space blimp though.

  5. BlueHorus says:

    Is it too lathe to make a pun about the terminology discussion?

    And I think the quote for the Starship Enterprise is ‘to boldly goad people into arguments about grammar’.

    1. eaglewingz says:

      Is it too lathe to make a pun about the terminology discussion?

      Whenever you get around to it will be fine.

      1. Matthew Downie says:

        Eye-sore what you did there.

  6. rabs says:

    I like the one that looks like a stylized virus with his T spikes. And he got some nice lighting.
    Maybe you could sell the design to Chris Roberts, so he can resell it to fund his game.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Thanks! Yeah, if he wants to pay me $20k each, I’ll design all the spaceships he wants!

  7. Joe says:

    The ships in the “Actually, now that I look at it, I’ve definitely seen all of these before.” pic remind me of Babylon 5. When you’d get mixed forces. If only there was a Sharlin in the background.

    1. Mousazz says:

      I take it the Kadeshi mothership would qualify as being in that category?

      1. Joe says:

        I don’t know that universe. That ship reminds me of the Amarr titan from EVE Online. Not that I’ve played it, I just like cool ships. :)

        The Sharlin-class warcruiser is from Babylon 5, and is sometimes referred to as the angelfish of death. :)

  8. Jabberwok says:

    So, this time the title says ‘Proc-gen Starship’, but the image says ‘Spaceship’. Last time, it was reversed….

    1. Syal says:

      The titles are also procedurally generated.

      1. BlueHorus says:

        Next week: Proc-Gen Voidship!

  9. OldOak says:

    Hah, your blend files also start to show up in Eevee (Blender’s 2.80 new renderer) !

    Just for the reference, Paul, there already is an actual add-on for Blender here. It definitely has a different algorithm than what you’re working at here, though, so keep it rolling!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Very cool! Thanks for pointing it out. Looks like it’s a face-extrude system. Here’s the step-by-step gif: https://github.com/a1studmuffin/SpaceshipGenerator/blob/master/screenshots/step-by-step-animation.gif
      Certainly gets results!

  10. kdansky says:

    Writing is not the same as talking, and the “Um”s and “Ah”s do not improve the text. Explaining chamfering in baby speak because it’s “highly technical” is kind of condescending towards the reader.

    “But another part has to do with something else that I’ve been putting off talking about because it has a tendency to overwhelm all the other design aspects to the degree that one might begin to wonder if anything else matters at all.”

    That is a very long sentence, and yet it does not even get to the point! I feel like reading this post is mostly a waste of time.

    Long story short: Writing well is hard.

    1. Bubble181 says:

      I’d never heard of “chamfering” before. Please remember a large part of this page’s readers are not from the anglosphere.
      I do like the ah, um, and run-on sentences, as they create far more of a “train of thought” type of feel. Those throwaway words are important in determining the choice of the writer, and the intonation/expression we’re supposed to read in a text. Removing them can certainly work, but having them is not a matter of “bad writing”, at most you might not like the style. Obviously, they slow down reading and invite the reader to move through the text more slowly. In a purely informative, matter-of-fact text they’d be out of place, in a “reading for fun” environment, they help break the flow and underscore pauses.

      Tldr: don’t project your personal style preferences on the public at large or try to pass it off as objectivity.

      1. Decius says:

        A chamfer is an intermediate edge between two other faces. It’s kinda like a round corner with a really low poly count.

        A bevel is a face that isn’t at right angles to other faces.

        Here is an illustration of the approximate difference between the two.

        (Worth noting is that part of the distinction relies on whether the part of the object not at right angles to the others is considered ‘edge’ or ‘face’, which sounds pedantic but have different purposes and methods in machining- chamfering an edge is a fairly simple and easy process, but machining a face is a much more precise and longer one.

      2. kdansky says:

        I am not from the anglosphere myself, but the power of the internet allows me to look up words that I don’t know. I frequently do so, as the English language has an incredibly vast vocabulary. But saying “chamfering is a first order bevel” is completely unhelpful. Is there a large number of people who know what that means, but don’t know what it’s called? I would assume most either know both (people into machining), or neither (everybody else), and now they have to look up two words, and still feel they got condescended to.

        Sure, you can argue against any and all grammar by saying “but I like it anyway”.

        Can you point me to a style guide which says: “Put some ‘um’s in your text!” – Because I rather sure that you’ll find that literally every single guide on the planet will advise against that (oftentimes explicitly), because it is not considered good writing. Nearly everybody agrees on what qualities are typical for good writing: concise, clear, elegant. Dryness is not a necessity. Terry Pratchett was always clear and elegant, and his writing was about as dry as the Niagara falls.

        But hey, you’re a free person. writeallinonewordifthatsyourthing. Be a rebel! Be avant garde! Write a wall of emoji! Nobody is stopping you! Just remember that trying to be avant garde results in being criticized a lot. Maybe in 50 years we all put “um” every second word because that’s now the cool thing.

        “There is no such thing as bad writing” is a ludicrous statement – that is the same as saying that there are no bad games (both are art, and both are subjective), and considering which blog we’re on, it is rather obvious that there are bad games, and that there is bad writing. The gamut (a technical word for “diapason”) is wide, and you can do a lot of creative things with words, but some things are better than others.

        Speech is not writing (google “speech vs writing” – you’ll find linguists have written many books about that). Um and Ah and Oh are not for writing articles. That up there is an article, not a theatre piece.

        1. Ogre says:

          You’re free to stop reading these posts if the writing style bothers you so much. Clearly there’s other people on this site (i.e. they’ve already responded here) who don’t mind, or enjoy the levity.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          Okay, first off, thanks for the impassioned feedback. I appreciate how deeply you feel about this, and the effort it took to write it all down.
          Second, yes, it’s entirely possible to go too far with transcribed vocalizations. I’ll continue to be wary of that extreme.
          But, really, my day job is wall-to-wall technical communication. I’m paid well, I’m good at it, and I can write precisely for pages and pages. But these articles? I’m writing these articles for fun. I’m making visual jokes, I’m intentionally sarcastically misrepresenting the comments, and I’m playing fast and loose with the language itself.
          If you don’t like it, I thank you for saying so. But if your reasoning is simply that the “no filler words” rule is not up for discussion, well, don’t bring it up for discussion then.

    2. Decius says:

      Explaining ‘chamfering’ by comparing it to ‘beveling’ is a lot like using ‘lathe’ to refer to a cross-section.

    3. Blue-NINJA'D! says:

      Writing is not the same as talking, and the “Um”s and “Ah”s do not improve the text. Explaining chamfering in baby speak because it’s “highly technical” is kind of condescending towards the reader.

      I think Paul’s going for/got his own voice. This is an entertainment post rather than an engineering one, so I’m kind of glad it doesn’t read like an instruction manual or textbook.
      While I wouldn’t say that the ‘Um’s and ‘Ah’s improve the text, they also don’t detract in any way either.
      They definitely make him distinct from Shamus.

      As a non-engineer/-3D modeller I have never heard the term ‘chamfering’ outside of this article. And with all the explanations, I still don’t know what it means.
      (Granted, a large part of this is that I don’t really care and am only in it for the weird-looking spaceships…)

    4. Paul Spooner says:

      While it’s true that excellent writing is difficult, it is less true that formal writing is the only valuable writing. A large part of excellence is suitability to the context.

      If you want to read precise language, perhaps my Minecraft codebase will delight you. I think my favorite is the taperedcylinder() crossection() method interaction in Forester.py with the direction vector indexing.

      1. kdansky says:

        Shamus (and every other decent author on the planet) manages just fine to write articles without pretending it’s an unedited podcast. Or would you say his stuff is too formal? He does not get defensive and snarky about it either.

        If you take what you wrote, and remove the needless filler words, you’ll find the text has magically improved. It’s like code: The less you have, the better it generally is.

        Be more like Shamus, and less like EL James. (That is probably applicable for everyone, always)

        1. Ogre says:

          Nuts to that. Paul’s writing style works perfectly well, for this proof-of-concept, just-for-fun series of posts. Not everything needs to be written like you’re presenting information to the board of directors.

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