Evolution of the French Leviathans
While the original concept sketch that Doug provided told me he was the right man for the job, it wasn’t exactly the direction we wanted to proceed. In our estimation if felt a little too Edwardian. And for the visuals of our game we absolutely wanted to proceed down a more Victorian Science Fiction/Steam Punk angle.
So after some back and forth discussions, Doug dove back in and generated sketch 2.
We immediately felt this was a better direction to head. Of course we also began running into the perennial problem faced by all ship designs. The “coolness factor” vs. the “realistic factor.”
Likely one of the most realistic spaceship designs ever is the Star Trek Borg cube. A giant block of defensive armor and armaments, with the bridge buried in the heart of the ship. The same could be said of giant robots. The Robotech bioroids were close to the best, with the pilot buried in the chest under the most armor, not mounted on top in a miniscule cockpit that’ll be destroyed by a stiff breeze.
However, while they have their place, no ‘hero’ fights in such a machine. Instead, the cockpit is up where a man can see his enemy with his own eyes. Or in the case of ships, the bridge is visible, so we know the captain is right there at the edge of the action, able to stand heroically, legs braced, looking out of the ship’s viewport with his own eyes. I could delve into the psychology of all of that, but I think most of us understand that instinctively…and if we don’t we just need to look at the vast majority of successful science fiction universes (books to TV to movies) and realize that is almost always the case.
So maintaining that aspect of a “look” was important. Just as important, the placement of the tanks containing our magic goo also need to be visible. It’s what will help to provide that unique look to the ships of the Leviathans universe. Obviously this isn’t all of the tanks; some are buried deep inside the ship, universe and game speaking, but for visuals some of that has to appear on the flanks of our ships.
Furthermore, in addition to setting the look of the universe as a whole apart from other such universe that have come before, we also realized that the design and placement of those exterior tanks would also help to differentiate faction designs. Let’s face it, the majority of wet navy ships unless you’ve a discerning eye for it, often look all too similar, even among various empires. A player walking up and glancing at a table needs to be able to pick out a faction ship. “Wow, cool French ship. What class is that?”
So while the over-all feel of the ship was starting to come together, we felt the current look of the side mounted tanks wasn’t unique enough.
We immediately fell in love with the cool aft design elements that Doug added, but the side tanks still just weren’t working well enough for us. The French had a very distinctive hull at this time in the real world and we wanted to ensure that that unique look would translate into Leviathans.
With Doug’s fourth iteration we felt he’d mostly nailed it. There’s a host of subtle nuances that were added as we headed into two or three additional illustrations before we called it final and he began working on the color illustration. But I’ll discuss that in another blog post, as well as start discussing other faction’s visuals.
See ya next duty shift!