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The Fleet Ship designs, strategies, and tactics.

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Old February 27th, 2007, 09:58 AM
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Surely starships will look different as tech level increases. Power supplies become smaller, drives become more efficient, and materials technology improves. The TL chart shows us where these improvements happen; can we extrapolate general design themes to create a richer game experience?

TL9-11: Bulky

For example, fusion power doesn't become compact until TL12; therefore we know something about construction constraints for starships from TL9-11: they require a 3000t fusion plant, or else they're stuck with fission, or a reaction drive that also produces the power.

So low- to mid- TL starships are bulky... and probably harder to move. So their engine clusters may tend to be prominent -- maybe they tend to look like "Daedalus" drives, with a big cluster of chambers and big, fat rocket nozzles.

Maybe the drive section looks like this:

TL12-16: Compact?

We know mid- to high-tech starships. They're relatively compact and streamlined-looking. This is true independent of the race -- Vargr, Zho, Aslan, Imp, and the rest all tend to be designed for a look, rather than having to be built around clunky technological constraints.

For example, Imperial, Vargr, Aslan, and Zhodani ships are distinctive, yet they follow the same general theme of being compact ships with aesthetic elements, and their designs aren't hampered much by powerplant or drive considerations.

I'll also note that high-tech ships tend to be designed in a sort of military way. I don't know if I can explain that feeling further.

I'd suspect that TL16 still looks a lot like TL15, since the most significant improvement is only in materials tech.

TL17-20 ?: Lanky

But there is probably another style change at TL17 or 18, when antimatter pods become truly useful. What is the visual effect on ships? How can they be distinguished from TL15 or TL16 ships?

If the Annic Nova is a TL17 or TL18 ship, then we've got a data point: these ships are lanky, exploit a tugboat model, and are/can be canopied. The reason the open-skeletal structure and tugboat model work is due to very high materials technology.

TL20-23 ?

There may be yet another style change at TL20 or 21, but I don't know what it would be.

TL25: Organic

We do know of a style change at around TL25, due to Adventure 12. This is where hulls are more grown than cast molded, so they appear organic, like a cluster of soap bubbles or a gigantic sea sponge or something.

TL30: Cellular

Finally, I think there's some hint of style somewhere in the TL30s in the structures made by those Primordial critters in Knightfall. The organic theme is smoother, with each building looking like a single organism (instead of a cluster of repeated bits).
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