For a long time now I have wanted to write a tutorial about buying art commissions from artists on the internet.
The images here are from an upcoming game about Pirates, Space Pirates!
Eventually I began working with a Hungarian Artist on the Galaxy Pirates RPG project.
Sketches and Artist's renderings by Tamas Baranya, I asked Tomi if I could show some of the Work In Progress stuff to give people a behind the scenes view of the process and he agreed.
Ok, so in the last article I promised you an article on my ridiculously cheap Humanoid labor robot that you could fit into a Shoebox! I was reading about Inflatable Robots that DARPA was working on and thought "oh yeah I need to make an Inflatable robot!" I toyed around with the idea for a while and I thought that it would require a lot of pneumatic pumps, a lot of valves and other kinds of hoses to inflate the various prices, then you still need the motors and electronics to run the thing. What concerned me the most was the idea that it would need a lot of redundant gas bladders and chambers in order to remain usable if something stabbed it, or it walked over a nail or piece of broken glass.
I didn't give up on Inflatable bots, the idea for an RPG that you could carry your own minion around in your backpack until you had too much loot to carry on your own, or too much loot to carry while fighting off bad guys or running away was too irresistible for a world which won't have Bags of Holding. The stabbing thing still kept gnawing at me though, I needed it to inflate without holding air, what I really needed was for the whole thing to fold up neatly and then unfold itself into a robot. It took a while but I remembered the shape changing metamaterials from Batman Begins where his new cape could become rigid like a glider when you ran an electrical current through it.
So I email Tomi and asked him to make me a shape changing metamaterial robot. I hadn't read about soft robots at this point, soft robots are built more like squids and octopus with less rigid structures and more squishing around. I thought that my inflatable and memorymaterial robots could selectively inflate their body segments and squeeze through areas much smaller than their fully inflated forms. This was going to get cool, and a little weird.
This is the first image of the Memory Shapechange materials Robot, Tomi tried to push it farther than some of the other stuff we'd done before, including the tentacles for hands, because we were leaving some of the rules behind, new opportunities opened up. The Memory Robot is built from what looks like overlapping plates or panels of material that reinforce each other. The robot was supposed to kind of look sinister and I think we really got that. I like the idea of bad guys dropping hundreds of them in a cargo container with a few boxes of rifles and setting up hapless PCs to vanquish them. I just as eagerly await players carrying them around to carry their loot for them, or in an emergency carry them back to their ship.
Based on the sketch, we kept a lot of things the same, the Raven's beak facemask got a little more angular in the final whereas the headshape in the sketch was pretty streamlined for fitting through tight spaces and into a small carrying case. The ball shoulder joints are mostly empty space and the whole thing is powered by a standard powercell mounted between the shoulders. I'm sure somebody makes them in a color other than Black, and somebody makes one with a Sensor Unit (head) that isn't made from Nightmare Fuel.
So after we finalized the Memory Materials robot we went backwards and built the Inflatable Robot that at least in the setting should have come before it. Not only would they be cheap enough to still be using them, but they would require a lower technology base to build and maintain, they would still have many of the advantages I was looking for and could be made out of one of those self-healing plastics so the puncture problem wasn't insurmountable, and since the pumps were part of the unit, it could keep reinflating to replace any lost pressure.
You'll notice we've got some basic Pincers on the Inflatable not the creepy tentacles, he's kind of a Funny Balloon Animal version of a Robot and I like him that way. I keep thinking they should be fiercely loyal to heighten the sense of loss when they inevitably succumb to their greater overall vulnerability.
We keep the feet rigid, no sense tempting fate with stepping on sharp objects. So the Sensor Platform on this one has an even steeper drop than the one that follows it, making the Rave's Beak an improvement over Walrusman?
So like the last article on Humanoid shaped Robots, the Inflatable series robots jobs are to do anything a Humanoid can do, using Humanoid tools and very little instruction. I have considered making Inflatable/Memory a chassis type choice in the eventual Robots book, though there will be more body types available than just Humanoid, DARPA's first inflatable is kind of a giant Anteater you ride around and it carries your gear for you.
So breakdown of the Robot Drawings, all of them had concepts in mind, none of them had a specific publishable project in mind. I have since decided that all of the Robots could go into a game supplement which could be used in Galaxy Pirates, the robots will be programmable like Animals are Trainable in most D20 OGL games..
-The final images were done in black and white, none of these are done in color or rely on color, a lot of the equipment stuff is going to be in Black and White, likewise Guns and Spacesuits don't always need color to show all of their details. Certain thing like Grenades will be in color.
-Eventually I came up with a project the robot book, I will try to compare it to other supplements for pricing and sales information which means I might know how much money I might make back on it.
I hope this helps some of you out there looking to buy pieces for yourself or for your own RPG projects.
Designer at Evilrobotgames.com