Common Shipbuilding Issues
7.1 Cross-Portfolio Information
7.1.1 Vessel Overview
Retro thrusters, retro thrusters, retro thrusters, retro thrusters! (to the tune of “Developers, developers,
If your craft is: A) not Rlaan manufactured and B) more than 5 meters long it probably needs retro
Now, the retro thrusters and maneuvering thrusters don’t need to be necessarily as pronounced as
the rear engines (giving you some artistic license in defining a visual front/back) but they NEED TO
HAVE VISUAL INDICATORS OF THEIR EXISTENCE. For some ships this is mainly a texturing
question. For larger vessels, this will necessarily influence your model design.
One of the biggest problems in space is heat dissipation. VS spacecraft have a lot of heat to get rid
of, so they’re going to need radiators. While, as with retro and maneuvering engines, artistic license
is granted in how much of the ship’s surface area is going to be radiator dominated, the same need for
visual indicators of radiators exists. If you have fins, you should probably put a radiator texture on
them, because they’re almost certainly not for aerodynamic flight.
VS ships aren’t, in general, intended to be very dense. This is more true for larger craft than strike
craft. In general, the idea for VS ships is that the surface-area to internals ratio should be pretty
high. The bigger ships in VS can be seen as big shells of armor and radiators around many, smaller,
internal components. Moreover, a lot of the internal components would actually be plumbing, of the
coolant (I always had a soft spot for gallium alloys, but no decisions are finalized on what exactly the
coolant is) circulating variety, running between the reactors/engines (the engines being fusion reactors
themselves) and other heat-generating components (e.g. weapons). The rest of the space being taken
up by insulation (vacuum is pretty good) and physical shielding to keep the crewed and other sensitive
parts of vessel safe from the engines/reactors, and other hazardous portions of the ship.
• Atmospheric flight
Most spaceships in the VS universe, even if capable of accelerating to escape velocity, are not designed
for atmospheric flight. Some are. If its role description mentions “Aerospace” or “lander”, “puddle
jumper”, “dropship”, “ground support”, or “orbital” then it’s a good bet it has an atmosphere-friendly
design. If not - build a spaceship, not an airplane.
That said, some smaller craft that are not atmosphere-friendly will still be atmosphere capable. The
more developed the infrastructure of the group using/designing the ship, the more likely they don’t
intend for it to ever see atmospheric use on an inhabited planet - this is what docking stations, spaceelevators,
orbital shuttles, and other infrastructure exists for. In fact, (once we get planetary structures
squared away a bit better), the really industrialized planets will probably start firing on you if you
attempt to land in anything larger than a pinnace/dispatch craft, and even then only with appropriate
permission. On the flip side, if it’s a Forsaken ship, or a Luddite craft, then it probably spends a
lot more time visiting places without well-developed orbital infrastructure and may need to land on
occasion. Also take into account the age of the design you’re considering. Much of the VS universe
as of 3276 is post-frontier, but a lot of places don’t have to think back too far to remember when they
weren’t. Use your better judgment.
If the ship is very large, even if it is atmosphere-capable, it is almost certainly not atmosphere friendly,
unless perhaps it’s something very esoteric (atmosphere skimmer for terraforming project or some
such). In general, if the ship is very large, it’s best to assume it’s not even atmosphere capable unless
there’s a very good reason for it. Large vessels will make use of shuttles and dispatch craft to take
care of business on the ground.