The art of shipbuilding: Reimagining iconic vessels of Galaxy on Fire 2 HD in Space Engineers (Part 1 of 2)
A fully developed scene from GOF2 HD in Space Engineers, including space crafts of differing factions, a space station of the Terrans and an Asteroid field.
Space Engineers is an “early-access“ game by Keen Software House, which first launched on Steam in October 2013 and kept its enthusiastic fans hooked ever since. According to the developer, Space Engineers is “a sandbox game about engineering, construction and maintenance of space works [which] utilizes a realistic volumetric-based physics engine.“ Or, in other words, it’s a bit like Minecraft in an outer space environment. We first learned about this game through one of its players, who calls himself Brisingr Drake and re-made no less than 25 iconic space ships from Galaxy on Fire 2 HD and its add-ons Valkyrie and Supernova in Space Engineers. Curious to gain insight into this ambitious and helluva cool project, we reached out to Brisingr Drake and tried to learn a bit more about the motivation, execution and reception of his ship building efforts (the results of which you can see here).
Galaxy on Fire 2 HD is one of Brisingr Drake's favorite mobile games. Of course, he made a replica of the UFO-like Vol Noor (which is shown in the screenshot above) as well.
Being a long-time sci-fi gaming enthusiast, who’s grown up with classics such as Freespace and Freelancer, Brisingr Drake first laid hands on GOF2 HD when he was looking for a space shooter to play on his smartphone. Amazed by the “incredible quality of the combat system, maneuverability and graphics“ and intrigued by the “funny story-line and close attention to detail,“ he quickly became a hardcore fan of the franchise itself and its “stars“ – the space ships – in particular.
Brisingr Drake's very first attempt at remaking a space ship from GOF2 HD, the Furious, in Space Engineers was still a little rough around the edges. But overall it's already mighty cool!
The first GOF2 HD ship he ever re-imagined in Space Engineers was the Furious, a small and affordable fighter of the Terrans , which GOF Wiki considers “a good starter ship for mining due to its good cargo hold.“ Brisingr Drake’s version, whose assembly dates back to August 2014, looks pretty cool already, but apparently it didn’t manage to stand the test of time. “However,“ he explained, “time passed and I found the Furious more and more outdated, mostly because new features and mods got introduced and I got better at building ships.“ So he decided to take on a new project and build another vessel from the iconic GOF2 range.
The Aegir is one of the most popular ships in Galaxy on Fire 2 HD. But it's characteristic double-hull design is incredibly hard to reproduce in SE.
The Aegir – a stylised version of which graces the app icon of the game – sounded like a natural choice. In practise, however, recreating the characteristic double-hull design and unique form of the wings proved to be incredibly hard to realize in Space Engineers. So Brisingr Drake went with the Teneta instead, which not only had one the turret slots he’s always loved, but also seemed to be relatively easy to make due to its block-like shape.
Brisingr Drake's replica of the Teneta shows close attention to detail. It even got a turret slot and the iconic grey'n'yellow paintjob of the Terran fleet.
Now that the model had been picked, a concrete approach to the building process had to be found. After carefully weighing up all possible options, Brisinga Drake “chose to build the Teneta as a simple fighter made out of small blocks without an interior. This ensured that [he] would be able to keep a good level of detail without causing performance issues.“ Another crucial decision was that of functionality. “When building replicas,“ Brisinga Drake says, “players frequently sacrifice the utility of the ship completely so that the final result is more esthetic.“ Since he didn’t want his ship to be “purely esthetic, [he] decided to include a connector and a cargo container (available in different sizes) on the ship. This ensures that the ship can at least transport and deliver some resources from point A to point B in a Survival game.“ And last but not least there’s also the fighting ability, about which Brisinga Drake says: “This ship, being a replica, will clearly not be as effective as a ship purely designed for combat in Space Engineers (note that shields are not present in Space Engineers, meaning that the shape of the ship is really important for combat). Therefore, I wouldn't try to make it effective in combat to the detriment of its appearance. I decided to place weapons where they were already placed in GOF2.“
This scene from Space Engineer's "Survival" game mode shows, among others, a small base, two mining ships and a grinder ship.
So much for the brainstorming and conception part of the ship building process, which – as you’ve seen – took quite a lot of effort already. In part two of our “The art of shipbuilding“ series, which is scheduled to be released next Tuesday, we will give you some first-hand insight into the actual construction process. Hope you’ll be around then, too & Please leave nice feedback on Brisignr Drake’s work in the comments!