Let’s Illustrate Planetbase Part 5: The Key To Success Is Low Expectations

Thanks to our unreliable wind turbine the Fault Inc base was able to barely scrape through the night without any causalities. And that means we unlock our first milestone: Survival. Admittedly making it through the game’s first day isn’t all that impressive but I’ll take whatever positive reinforcement I can get.

People in suits shaking hands is what business is all about, right?

All things considered that’s a LOT of construction work for one day, seven people a couple robots.

If you look at the full size screenshot you’ll notice a few potentially interesting things. Besides the turbine and the solar panels there’s a glowing blue cylinder. That’s a huge battery and while it wasn’t finished in time to help with the first night it should smooth out life support in the coming weeks. On the right side of the base there are a bunch of more of domes. Admittedly they are more or less identical so you’ll just have to take my word that one is a dorm, one is a cafeteria and one is a hydroponics space farm. That weird black skeleton is the beginnings of a mine so we can start properly exploiting this big ball of rock.

I’ll admit I wonder if I’m building too many different things too fast. Or too slowly. Guess we’ll have to find out the hard way.

Let’s Illustrate Planetbase Part 4: A Little Brain Damage Never Hurt Anybody

Fault Inc’s disastrous first colony taught us a few important things; namely that Planetbase has a pretty fast moving day/night cycle and that colonists asphyxiate really quickly when their solar powered life support all shuts down.

So for colony #2 I try to avoid this problem by building not only a solar panel but also a decent sized wind turbine right as soon as we land.

Which reminds me, did you know your colonists bring construction robots with them to each colony? They don’t seem to work any harder or faster than your human construction experts but more helping hands is always useful and I guess it’s nice not having to worry about providing them with food or air.

Our cute little construction bot puts the finishing touches on a solar panel.

Turbine probably not drawn to scale.

I had hoped using winds as a backup energy source would solve all my nocturnal oxygen problems but it turns out that the wind doesn’t blow 24 hours a day on this particular planet (which took me by surprise; living in Oklahoma has given me weird ideas about “normal” weather). So my overnight electrical supply was more or less random and that meant life support was on and off all night as well. Fortunately while the colony’s oxygen levels got dangerously low on multiple occasions the electricity always kicked back in before anybody actually died. Admittedly a night like that should probably have left everybody suffering from the side effects of CO2 poisoning and partial brain death but I’m pretty sure Planetbase doesn’t simulate any of that so let’s just pretend I didn’t bring it up.

Let’s Illustrate Planetbase Part 3: Maslow’s Hierarchy… IN SPACE!

When we last left Fault Inc’s first space colony things were looking pretty good. We had a set of solar panels producing tons of electricity that we then used to power both a water extractor and an oxygen plant. Toss in all the freeze dried food the colonists brought with them and the future is looking bright!

At least until the sun goes down.

No sun means no solar energy. No solar energy means no electricity, which means no water which means no oxygen.

As you might imagine the Fault Inc colonists are not happy about this and start complaining.

You already had twelve hours of oxygen today. What more do you want?

The good news is that they stop complaining pretty quickly. The bad news is that they stop because they’re all dead.

On the bright side poor Jude apparently died happy.

Well shoot. Not only did several brave astronauts lose their lives but Fault Inc’s insurance premiums are probably going to skyrocket too. We’d better be extra careful with the next colony.

Let’s Illustrate Planetbase Part 2: How Hard Is Rocket Science, Really?

When you first try to play Planetbase there’s a big popup suggesting you should complete the tutorial mode before trying to settle an actual planet, but I’m going to completely ignore it in favor of clicking on buttons myself and seeing what happens. For example, it turns out that clicking the “Start Game” button triggers an adorable cinematic of your space capsule landing and your brave space pioneers emerging.

And you thought it felt good to get out and stretch your legs after a long car trip.

The best thing about camping in space is there are no mosquitoes.

Now I’m no space expert but I’ve read enough sci-fi to know the obvious top priority for a space base is air. And the easiest way to get air is by electrically splitting water, which means I need some power and water. Fortunately solar panels and water extraction systems come as pre-unlocked tech so I toss up some panels, drill for water and then set up an oxygen plant for my base.

Things are looking pretty good for Fault Inc’s first extraterrestrial colony!

Let’s Illustrate Planetbase Part 1: Everything Is Better In Space

Planetbase is a town management sim whose claim to fame is that it takes place in space, meaning it’s not enough to just worry about whether your citizens are happy and well fed in their newly built settlement. You also have to worry about whether or not they have enough oxygen or too much cosmic radiation. How much you have to worry about this depends a lot on the planet you choose to settle.

Since I’m going into this game blind I only have access to the easiest of planets: Class D. It’s a dustball with a thick CO2 atmosphere and while humans can’t breath that the fact that it at least has an atmosphere should help with everything from providing wind power to screening out a certain amount of cosmic radiation and debris. It would also make this an attractive planet for terraforming but I don’t think this game cares about so oh well.

Anyways, first up we need to name our base. Now let’s see… who do we know that both desperately needs a way off planet and has enough money to fund a space program?

Why none other than Fault, who as you may recall ended her last adventure by kind of sort of betraying her orders from a powerful Emperor and thus winding up on his hit list. Still, at least she managed to amass a large fortune in the process and what better way to spend that than on space exploration.

Extensive experience with stabbing monsters totally qualifies Fault to run a space based industrial firm, right?

Thus is born “Fault Inc”.

No, this has no impact on the game at all but after the last two Let’s Illustrates it would be sad if Fault didn’t at least get a cameo in this one.

Random Pixels: Submarine Map Necklace Bag

I rolled the idea dice and came up with a submarine, a map, a necklace and some sort of bag. The map and necklace together suggest pirate treasure which works well with the idea of bags full of gold. Add in the submarine and you get sunken pirate treasure.

Of course nothing but a big old treasure chest underwater would be kind of boring so I threw in a mermaid.

Random Pixels: Submarine Shield Cauldron Fuel Gauge

So those two Let’s Illustrates I did were a lot of fun and they did help me get over that first big artistic hurdle of “What should I draw for practice?”

But now that I’m starting to get in the habit of practicing the time required to play a game and keep a journal and organize reference screen shots and whatnot is actually getting in the way of practicing the actual art. So now I have a new plan!

I have purchased a set of Rory’s Story Cubes, Voyage edition. It’s a set of nine dice with adventure themed pictures on them instead of numbers. These things are really handful for anybody whose creativity needs a little head start. Want a random short story idea? A theme for your next game of Dungeons and Dragons? Maybe… inspiration for a piece of pixel art?

In my case I use them by rolling all nine dice, choosing four that seem to fit together well and then that’s the theme of my next pixel drawing.

For example, the first time I rolled them I picked out a submarine, a shield, a cauldron and an empty fuel gauge.

So I thought a little and came up with this:

A deep sea diver (submarine) wearing one of those metal plated old diving suits (shield). He’s underwater examining a pipe for carrying oil that can be refined (cauldron) into usable fuel (fuel gauge).

Let’s (Not) Illustrate Shadowrun Dragonfall

So after finding out that trying to illustrate Dragon Age wasn’t helping me get in as much practice as I had hoped I decided to try moving on to a game I was more familiar with: Shadowrun Dragonfall. It’s a really well designed cyberpunk meets urban fantasy RPG that did a great job of giving you a lot of freedom of choice in how you approach problems. Need to get past security? Use hacking skills to fake an id. Fast talk your way past a guard. Get advice from the spirit realm on alternate paths. And of course if all else fails you can just shoot your way through the whole game.

Anyways that wound up not really being any better than Dragon Age in terms of how much time I spent drawing pixel art versus time spent playing and writing about the game but I might as well link a couple almost nice pieces before we get to next week and I reveal my new (but not that exiting) art learning strategy.

My first Shadowrun character ever was a dwarf roboticist named “Uncle Chrome” who managed to find a nonviolent solution to most of his problems thanks to being moderately charismatic and extremely good with computers and circuits.

Fault’s shadowrunning career sadly never took off the ground but I think it’s safe to say it would have involved a lot more explosions and hostile negotiations than my old Uncle Chrome run.

Let’s (Not) Illustrate Dragon Age Origins

So I’ve been spending the past few months playing through Dragon Age Origins and looking for good screen shots I could pixelate as part of my long and futile quest to learn how to art. And while this was kind of fun I eventually came to the realization I was spending more time playing and writing about the game than I was practicing my art skills. That sort of defeated the whole purpose of the exercise so I gave up and came up with a new plan.

But it’s not like I didn’t get any practice done, so here are some of my “better” (as in least worst) efforts.

A tragically cheerful Fault, unaware she’s about to be thrust into yet another cursed world full of things that want to kill her.

Of course there are giant spiders. Can’t call yourself an RPG without giant spiders.

This is so low resolution it’s probably hard to tell who it’s supposed to be but I still kind of like how “meh” that expression turned out.

Alistair’s perpetual smirk increases his aggro by 5% and helps explain why he makes such a great tank.

I failed to capture Morrigan’s trademark scornful frown and instead made her look like she’s trying to remember whether or not she forgot to turn the oven off before leaving home.

I was aiming for “being a refugee is awful” but seem to have wound up with “WHEEE, camping is fun!”.



Let’s Illustrate Morrowind: Index

Once upon a time a certain programmer had the incorrect idea that it might be fun to learn how to draw by keeping an illustrated journal of video game adventures. One victim of his doodles was Morrowind, famous open world fantasy RPG and ancestor to blockbuster hit Skyrim.