Riding the Rock

With my Xeelee Nightfightercomplete, I now have enough components to begin assembling an epic scene from from one of Stephen Baxter’s many, many novels. 20,000 years in the future, humans are engaged in a millenial struggle agains the Xeelee near the center of the galaxy. Humans use asteroids as weapons platforms. Soldiers on the asteroids dig trenches to hide in, rushing out to man weapon emplacements when the asteroids are hurled toward the Xeelee. Asteroids are accompanied by Spline battleshipswith Greenshipfighter escorts.

Soo… here’s the environment so far. I’m doing this as a Quicktime VR; I think this is the only way I’ll be able to properly depict the scene (you may want to download this here to view it fullscreen). For some reason there are ugly seams, maybe a camera lens setting of 16 is not quite correct ?


Comments welcome, everything subject to change at this point… I have some more asteroid models ready, I just haven’t bothered to put them in yet.

Nice job dude, looking great so far. Since you already told that the 3 spheric asteroids are just placeholders - you’re going to add some variation, i’m not commenting them (it was the only thing odd in the scene).

Keep it up!

My internet connection died but finally it’s back, so here’s a massive update. There are now 77 asteroids, 66 Greenships, 12 Spline and 40 Xeelee. Vertex count at render time is 13.7 million so this is by far my largest scene ever. Haven’t even started on the explosions or people yet…


There are some weird issues with transparency of the Xeelee wings varying huglely from one viewpoint to another, so there are a couple of seams I need to sort out.

EDIT : The menger sponge is my depiction of a Xeelee carrier; in the books they are described as simple white cubes of varying size, I thought a menger sponge would be more interesting and lend itself naturally the role of carrier.

Here is a still to make it easier to view, though it is not designed to be viewed this way and is much better in VR format.


Full size image : www.rhysy.net/WIPS/RockTest.jpg

(can’t emed images, probably too large and I’m not making them any smaller because then you won’t see anything much)

Oh my gosh! It looks awesome! Just one thing: If you’re rendering in such high-res, you should improve the resolution of the main asterioid texture. When looking closely, it looks kinda low-quality, compared to the size of the image itself.

Wonderfull job so far dude!

Thanks ! Agree on the asteroid texture, will play around with that.

I’ve been trying to get some explosions going but the file is getting quite unwieldy (is that a word ?) to work with at 700mb. Annoyingly there’s a bug in Blender 2.49 that means particles can’t have motion blur, and in 2.56 the file is too slow to work with. So before I go any further I’m gonna have to rearrange things into smaller files that can be composited together.

(I tried using alt+d to duplicate the ships instead of shift+d; although this greatly reduces the file size it seems to eat up more RAM to render, at least in 2.56)

Wheres the Ring itself??? (on a fluke chance I just finished reading the books…)

I also agree about the asteroids needing work. My solution is using a UV sphere (default sphere settings) then I add a subsurf modifier. Then I use the displace settings with a clouds texture, turn up the depth and down the size and you will have something like this:

The texture is just the same clouds texture as a bump (not color)
The use of subsurf allows you to easily change the resolution, so if an object is in the background you needn’t have too many faces. (the one above has a subsurf setting of 2, with a total of 7938 faces)
Up close it is like this, so you would need a texture then:

(subsurf of 4)

Your work is looking very good, I eagerly await further updates.
(sorry, you probably didn’t want a tut on asteroids!)

Wheres the Ring itself??? (on a fluke chance I just finished reading the books…)

The great attractor ? That’s a long long ways away…

You’ve pretty much given a description of how I made the asteroids. :slight_smile: I also used some fractal subdivision and made the craters with spherical falloff from proportional vertex editing (another neat trick is to use the edge split modifier to get a rough look). I tried S68’s old World Forge script, but I just couldn’t get nice results. I’m reasonably happy with how they turned out.


For the foreground I did basically the same thing but I want to keep the landscape pretty flat. It’s the shader that’s bothering me more than the structure, I think… here’s a little update with some texture tweaks and rocks added.


Finally a first explosion test, this one will be overhead. I’ll add a few more in various stages of destruction and others fighting back.


(embedding images isn’t working, not sure why…)

All the various asteroids are looking good, but I think that the craters are too pronounced. As well as the big rocks there are also smaller micro-meteors that smooth out the surface, see if you can smooth the edges of some of the craters.

Oh, so you already knew that…

Looking at the foreground (http://www.rhysy.net/WIPS/AsteroidSurface.jpg) it looks much better, but maybe have patches of the rubble, instead of having it everywhere, it looks to even.

Really like the asteroid explosion.

After a slight delay, I’m ready to resume work on this thing. Moving to Puerto Rico caused a teensy-weensy disruption. :stuck_out_tongue:

Here is small update. As planned I split the file into 6 manageable chunks which no longer cause my system to hang (I’ve got 8GB RAM - I think Blender just can’t handle large files very well), and also make each image render in just a few minutes. Changes :
Worked on the asteroid shader a little, and moved some rocks around (I’ll hold off on further changes here until I get the sky done)
Incorporated the exploding asteroids
Added a little motion blur to some of the ships
Made some volumetric explosions in 2.5 and added them as sprites (they look fairly random at the moment, some laser fire should fix that)
Fixed the Xeelee wing material, it previously looked different depending on viewing angle, which obviously isn’t good in a VR.

Here’s a simple jpeg preview :

And here’s the current 2-pi steradian VR :

Again I strongly recommend downloading the file to view it fullscreen.

Looking over things again I’m pretty happy with the asteroids, with one exception that has some ugly craters. Will fix that in the next update and add lasers.

I’ve just been clicking through your work, from the links in this thread. I’m afraid I don’t have anything helpful to add, but I did just want to say I’m in awe of your work. It’s really excellent.

I aspire to be as good as you one day. :slight_smile: