Sunday, February 10, 2019

State of the Blog 2019

Executive Summary:
The blog is still kicking, but I'd like to post more frequently. With the Starship Geomorphs book complete I'm looking to provide more varied, but smaller, content in 2019.

The Boring Blog Stats:
Total page views: 192,214 since my initial blog post just over three years ago. My average page views per month these days is just over 5,000.
Most viewed posts: Starship Geomorphs book, Destiny Class 200 ton Yacht, and the 15mm deck plan collection.
Audience: Visitors come from all over the world, but primarily from the United States and the U.K., as would be expected. Primary traffic sources continue to be Google and Facebook.

Highlights of the Year
Getting the Starship Geomorphs PDF book wrapped up and released. I was amazed how quickly it took off and spread around the various social media sites and game forums. Thanks to everyone for your kind words and enthusiasm.
Related highlights:
  • Marc Miller promoting the book and working with me to create a printed version, instead of slapping me with a copyright lawsuit. Thanks Marc!
  • Receiving an award from the good folks at The Zhodani Base for Best Free or Pay What You Want Traveller Product. I appreciate the recognition and now can technically call myself an award winning author. Mwah ha ha.
  • Blog pageviews shot up to over 18,000 for October 2018, more than triple my normal monthly average. Starship Geomorphs surpassed my previously most viewed page (the Destiny Class Yacht) in only three days!
The release of Horizon Games' Traveller Customizable Card Game, and the inclusion of some of my artwork. I just wish I had time to play it.

Lowlights of the Year
  • The inclusion of my artwork in the aforementioned Traveller Customizable Card Game. I'm not trying to be overly humble here, but the quality of my artwork just does not stand up with the rest included in the game. It's a little embarrassing. There is a lot of great artwork there. I want to put a bug in Jeff Yin's ear about doing a Kickstarter to produce a coffee table book of some of the artwork.
  • Not enough time for this blog. While I'm enjoying the strong economy and the building developer client I am working with, it would be nice to have a few days off. The two weeks I was hoping for around the holidays turned into just two days. I'm really envying those Travellers out there who've mustered out and are living off their fat pensions. That's how it works, right?
  • Not making the time to play my solo Traveller campaign. Do you ever imagine what your PCs are up to when you are not playing? Mine have been sitting in a cave for over a year now.
What's in store for 2019 (and beyond)?
In reality, probably mostly a lot of my day job and excuses on my blog for not posting more. Ideally I'd like to post something of quality at least once a month. Some upcoming content may include:
  • A print version of the Starship Geomorph book - I was finally able to get some revised test print files to Marc Miller, who is looking to set up Print On Demand printing through Drive Thru RPG. More information should be coming soon.
  • The Starship Symbols & Spaces book - kind of a sister project to the Starship Geomorphs book. It will include a wide variety of starship rooms and component parts as both a PDF file and DWG/DXF formats. Nearly complete.
  • Traveller themed starship symbols for Cosmographer - I spoke with ProFantasy Software - the makers of Campaign Cartographer and Cosmographer - and they created some starship content inspired by my geomorphs, but with their own unique look. Ideally I'll find time to learn the software and be able to convert my starship symbols and spaces into usable components for Cosmographer. Alternately, this might be something that could be crowd sourced by the Cosmographer community using my starship symbols files.
  • An Easter Egg post - probably in April - showcasing a bunch of the unusual things I've included in my illustrations many readers may not have been aware of.
  • I've got a ton of incomplete projects I want to get finished, and am hoping I can discipline myself to finish those before starting the other ton of projects still in my head.
  • Interior illustrations of the Kugashin/Lavalier Class Laboratory Ship. I've already got it about 75% modeled. I don't think I've seen any interior illustrations of this ship.
  • 600 ton "adventurer" ship - a collaborative effort I started with a blog viewer. I put this on the back burner because I felt the geomorph book was so close to completion and would be of interest to more people.
  • A robotic armed work pod vehicle, inspired by a recent discussion on one of the Traveller Facebook pages.
There are a few bigger projects I'd like to do, but these may be a while coming unless my work schedule frees up:
  • I'd love to do another 30 day blog challenge. It's a great way to create a lot of content in a relatively short period of time, and really gets the creative juices flowing. Unfortunately, the type of content I want to create takes more hours a day than I have available. I've got tons of deck plans, robots, and other designs in my sketchbooks and binders. A 30 day challenge is not too likely to happen in 2019, but I like to keep it on my list.
  • I'm getting antsy to design a downport, or better, something like my own version of Fifty Starbases that Judges Guild put out.
  • I've also been considering doing something like A Naval Architect's Guide to <blank> series, starting with Staterooms, showing various room types, layouts, and fittings. I've got a lot of this type of stuff drawn or modeled already, I just need to clean it up and get it out there.

Thanks to everyone for your support and feedback. Happy Travelling!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Starship Geomorph book update

The Starship Geomorph book has been updated with the following changes:
  • Miscellaneous spelling and grammar problems. Thanks to Ian Kinney for helping with the proofreading and editing.
  • A few graphic modifications, shading and linework tweaks. Hardcopies printed for miniature use should look better.
  • Fixed a couple of low resolution illustration issues.
  • A good number of geomorphs were tweaked - something I can't stop doing for some reason. Nothing major. There are fewer staterooms without private freshers. The image of crew members roaming the ship wrapped in a towel looking for a shower was getting to me.
I was able to bring editable layers into the PDF but for some reason it was bringing down the graphic quality of just about everything, so I opted to leave out that feature until such time as I can do so  without sacrificing quality elsewhere. My apologies to those who were hoping to have hex grids this round.

Thanks to everyone for your kind words and encouragement. I hope you enjoy this cleaned up version.

The updated free PDF can be downloaded here: Starship Geomorphs v1.1.pdf

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Starship Geomorphs Update and Upcoming Starship Symbols Book

Wow. It's great to see so many responses to the Starship Geomorphs book. Thanks to everyone for their positive feedback and constructive criticisms. I will be re-releasing the Starship Geomorphs PDF in a week or so with corrected spelling (What? You've never heard of Marshal Arts?) and grammar, a few graphic and miscellaneous tweaks to some geomorphs, and the ability to turn on/off individual drawing layers including a second optional hex grid. This will allow you to do things like select square grid, hex grid, or no grid at all, turn off text for player maps, and turn off shading for less ink usage when printing.

Additionally, Marc Miller and I have started talking about making a print version available to those who want it. There are no specifics yet as I want to get the edited PDF version off my plate first. I'll keep you posted as I learn more.

Finally, I'm also working on a starship "symbols" PDF book that would be a collection of individual rooms and room blocks for those who want to lay out ship plans that way. The book will probably include supplemental .DWG and .DXF files.

Traveller Customizable Card Game - Solo Play Example

I just wanted to post a quick shout out to Geek Gamers, who has a solo gaming channel on YouTube. She recently posted an example of solo play for the Traveller Customizable Card Game. I just received my reprinted cards in the mail last week and am looking forward to giving this a try when my free time opens up a bit.

You can check out her video here: Traveller CCG Solo Play Example

I'd be interested in hearing from other Traveller players who have played this, either solo or with others - please leave comments below.
Update 11/07/2018

Geek Gamers has added a second video reviewing the Trouble on the Mains, Subsidized Merchant, and Empress Marava expansion decks.

You can check out her video here: Traveller CCG Ship and Expansion Decks

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Starship Geomorphs book is finally complete!

The Starship Geomorphs book is finally complete and ready for download. I can safely say after three years of putting this project together the itch has been thoroughly scratched. If you have any constructive criticisms please comment below. I'm not opposed to revisiting this sometime in the future if the situation warrants it. In the meantime I'm going to take a short break and get back to some smaller, less intense projects. Thanks for your patience, I hope you find it worth the wait.

Click here to download the updated PDF: Starship Geomorphs v1.1.pdf  (released 11-11-2018)
Click here to download the original PDF: Starship Geomorphs v1.0.pdf  (released 10-10-2018)
The question has come up regarding printing these for miniature use. A couple things to consider first:
The scale provided in the PDF is 1/4"=5'-0" or one square grid. This is simple enough to scale up for 15mm (1/2"=1'-0") figure use. If you are using a standard letter size (8.5"x11") printer you will be limited to Edge and Corner Geomorphs which will print out at 10"x5" and 5"x5" respectfully. A Standard Geomorph will print at 10"x10" so will not fit on letter size paper, but if your printer supports 11x17 that would work.

To print an Edge or Corner Geomorph to 8.5" x 11" paper for 15mm figures:
Routine, Admin, INT    5 min, Safe  (That's a MegaTraveller joke)

Kidding aside, here's how I did it using Adobe Acrobat Pro. Your software may vary.
Open the PDF to the page you wish to print
Edit > Take a Snapshot > draw boundary around desired geomorph > Print (open print dialogue box) > set Custom Scale to 200% > set orientation to Landscape mode for Edge Geomorph > Print

For Standard Geomorphs at 15mm or any geomorphs at 25mm scale (1"=5'-0") I would use the same process as above, but change the paper size to something like 11x17 or 18x24, depending on what your are printing, set the Custom Scale to 400% (for 25mm) and instead of printing to your printer, I'd print to PDF, and then send that PDF to a print shop for printing if you can't print the larger paper size. You may be able to set it up such that you print a larger drawing on a series of 8.5x11 sheets and tape them together, but personally I would not go that route. Good luck!

An example of an Edge Geomorph printed on 8.5x11 at 200% for 15mm figures:


A few quick notes:
This PDF version is mainly intended for viewing on a computer or other device. While in my experience the individual geomorph pages look fine when printed, the illustrations come out very dark. It is doubtful that I will be creating a print version.
Regarding navigating through the document: I spent a good amount of time creating hyperlinks all through the document, so it should be very easy to find what you are looking for. I find jumping to the Indexes at the back of the book, clicking on what I am looking for, and making copious use of the Alt-Left Arrow to go back to the previous page to be very helpful. The book is also fully bookmarked.

Saturday, July 28, 2018

X-Boat Station Variant

A blog reader wrote to me inquiring about modifying the X-Boat Station to include additional research, observation, repair and maintenance, and traffic control spaces as well as armaments, and asked about the possibility of adding a ring around the station for those purposes. While it would be possible to design such a ring, I would be concerned that a ring might interfere with ship docking, and suggest the above images as a possible variant.

This design adds a 100 dton mass to the bottom of the station and assumes the elevator and ladder run through the central fuel storage to access the new lower decks. With the overall station now being 500 dtons, some of that space would need to be used for additional drive, power plant, and fuel to maintain the original station specifications. Alternately - and depending upon the gamer's intended use - the additional drive and fuel requirements could be ignored and argued that the station maneuvers at less than 1G.

The new mass consists of four standard height decks (10' or 3m) with two rotating turrets and sensors projecting from the bottom. A third rotating turret has been added to the upper portion of the structure to take advantage of the three allowable "hardpoints" (IMTU hardpoints do not have to be fixed, but can be set upon tracks for better coverage).

With the extra tonnage, the station can start to move away from being strictly for X-Boat usage and could become a general multi-purpose space station, albeit a pretty small one. Other uses are as varied as your imagination: a noble's off planet getaway, a research station, a manned interdiction satellite, a small trading post...whatever you want. Enjoy!

EDIT 10-21-2018
Prior to this edit the original X-boat station was incorrectly shown as 200 tons, when it is in fact 400 tons, which would make this variant 500 tons. The images here and the PDF in the original post have been updated.


Click here to see the original X-Boat Station post, including deckplans.

Monday, July 16, 2018

Agricultural Bay Geomorph and Illustration / Book Update

The proposed book cover. I've always loved the classic LBB design.
I'm hoping since this is a fan-made freebie that Marc Miller will see beyond any copyright infringement.

Artificial sunlight shines down on a ship's botanist as he performs chemical analyses on a variety of otherworldly food crops while agrobots perform the more menial gardening tasks.
I'm getting a bit closer to wrapping up the geomorph book. It has been sent to the editor while I get the remaining illustrations completed and tweak the final geomorphs. The book should be available between late August and mid-September and will be a free PDF download from this blog.

While not part of a typical Traveller starship, the Agricultural Bay is a mainstay in science fiction for colony ships, inhospitable planets, and remote outposts obligated to be self-sufficient. By itself, gardening doesn't necessarily scream "action and adventure", so referees should consider all the myriad ways plants have been used in classic science fiction and modify as they see fit. The seed pods from "Invasion of the Body Snatchers", the alien spores from Star Trek's "This Side of Paradise", and Triffids are all fine places to start. Live crops and seeds can be valuable trading goods on some worlds, and are often a favorite target for customs officials. Ignoring transport protocols is sure way to introduce and invasive species into a new environment. Knowledge of alien botany could be a useful skill for a Traveller. Which ones are edible? Which are poisonous? Which are used to make medicine? Use your imagination and have fun!