Trees in space!


One of our kickstarter goals was rather oddly labeled as "Hedgetrimmers". The stretch goal was a system of organic living treeships, with the hedgetrimmers being used to shape their growth. Nezumi and I have finished the basic tree blocks and inserted them into the game.

I don't have the growing code done yet, but I figured I'd take a brief break to explain what the heck I'm creating, and why.

Let's use this reference image:
Tree Example

On the far left you can see a curiously blue-green seed pod. This is the seed of one of three kinds of treeship, and would sell for quite a bit on the open market. It will be found somewhere deep inside an asteroid, waiting for some lucky soul to stumble across it.

Pick it up and find someplace hospitable to plant it - A patch of dirt will do nicely, although an asteroid would be even better. A happy little seedling will sprout up - Find him some sunshine and he'll start growing.

The heart of any treeship is its heartwood - This reddish brown material grows at the base and core of the tree, and any wood separated from it will sicken and die. It's quite sturdy, rivaling aluminum in its melting point, and withstanding quite a bit of flex before breaking. Outside of its heartwood, treeships are quite resistant to hollowing, happily growing even when the majority of their interior tissue is removed.

The type of wood for the majority of the tree is determined by its tree type - Cherry blossom tress get a light balsa wood, deciduous trees get a tough mahogany wood, and pine trees get softer pine wood. The woods grow and self-repair damage at different rates - Mahogany is slow, balsa is middling, and pine trees are quite speedy. The tree pictured is a deciduous.

After some time being exposed to light, treeships will produce a bud somewhere on their exterior surface. If this bud is in a poor location, it's the work of a moment to trim if off. If it's left alone, however, it will eventually grow into a small branch coated with leaves, pine needles, or cherry blossoms. Branches left to grow long enough will thicken to the point that they can be hollowed out.

Treeships need a lot of material to grow, and will extend roots into asteroids or ships they're planted on to get it. They'll also remove carbon from carbon dioxide to grow, adding oxygen to any interior atmosphere. (Fun fact: Trees on earth actually get MOST of their mass from this process - Trees are almost entirely built out of air!)

Treeships provide electricity (via sunlight hitting their leaves), and will happily transmit materials through the small pores in their trunks - Any equipment connected to a treeship will automatically be a part of the ship's electricity and supply network!

Each type of treeship has its positive and negative points - Cherry blossoms trees grow fruit for their crew to eat and are lightweight, but are poor at photosynthesis and can be fragile. Deciduous trees are quite tough and hard to burn, but have fragile leaves and flex poorly. Pine trees flex well and regrow damage faster than other trees, but burn easily and don't photosynthesize as well as deciduous.

Treeships will grow over their entire lifetimes, slowing down as they get larger. Tend to one well and you could easily have a kilometer long battleship on your hands.

As you can see, I've got quite a bit of coding ahead of me! Wish me luck!


The Ensorceler

Good luck! These look to be quite interesting. Cherrypicking in spacesuits seems a bit strange though. But this is the game with space cows, so there aren't really any continuity breaks :P

ZeroKnight ZeroKnight's picture

Wow, you've already got quite a bit of it thought out. I was a little skeptical at first, but these tree-ships sound rather nifty, and I find they compliment the organic ships in terms of variety and offer a niche for specialized pilots/organizations.

Revanchist Revanchist's picture

These plant-ships have turned out vastly better than I imagined they would, and I had some high expectations.

It seems they will fill quite a few (very believable) roles, which I can only be amazed at.

Sqiub Sqiub's picture

I wonder if Dirkson ever read the books of "The Saga of the Seven Suns" by Kevin J. Anderson... One of the races is a living tree ship.
This is Awesome though.