How to Build a Working Ship

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Note: This guide refers to many features which are not yet in the game. It suggests design concepts that will be relevant when they are added to the game. All features discussed in this guide are based on discussions with Dirkson, the game's creator, about likely directions the game will take.


Table of Contents

  1. Life Support
  2. Cooling
  3. Energy Production
  4. Energy Storage
  5. Resource Networks
  6. Material Fabrication
  7. Material Storage
  8. Propulsion
  9. Weapons
  10. Portals
  11. Amenities


So, you've decided to try your luck in the void of space. Maybe you plan to be a merchant, selling ship components, commodities, or raw materials to others. Maybe you'll be an asteroid miner, scraping a living out in the fields from bare rock, hoping to strike it rich. Or perhaps you're a more violent breed, looking for a fight out there between the planets? Well, you're sure to find one.

Whatever you end up doing, if you don't want you and your crew to end up breathing vacuum, you'll need to know a few basics about building a working ship. Here's some of what you need to know.

1. Life Support

A life support system is something virtually every manned ship will need, unless the crew plans to keep filling up spacesuits at suit refill stations. Life support allows a crew to go on breathing without a suit. There are several life support components in the game currently.

Note: Air simulation is not yet implemented in the game.

Life Support Components

CO2 Collector Breaks carbon dioxide down into carbon and oxygen, and releases the oxygen into a pipe network. The reclaimed oxygen can then be released back into the ship through an oxygenator on the same pipe network. By recycling respirated air, a CO2 collector can ensure a ship never runs out of oxygen.

Requires: Electricity

CO2 Scrubber A CO2 scrubber captures carbon dioxide and prevents it from building up to life-threatening levels in a ship's atmosphere. A CO2 scrubber does not produce breathable oxygen by cracking carbon dioxide, as a CO2 collector does.

Requires: Electricity

Oxygenator An oxygenator disperses the oxygen produced by any source on the same pipe network, such as a CO2 collector or a pump attached to an oxygen tank.

Requires: Electricity, oxygen in the pipe network

2. Cooling

Another requirement for virtually any ship is a cooling system. Any component that creates or uses power likely creates heat. It might seem like space is cold; however, because space is a vacuum with no air or matter to carry away heat, it actually takes a while to dissipate heat in space through radiation. This same principle allows a vacuum flask or Thermos to keep coffee hot for hours. Because of this, you need to ensure your ship has some help dissipating heat - both away from "hot spots" like a reactor room, and away from the ship as a whole.

When designing your cooling system, bear in mind that materials with high thermal conductivity, like copper or graphene, will essentially suck heat from their surroundings. A line of copper blocks makes an excellent heat pipe to transfer heat into radiators on the outside of the hull. From the radiators, the heat will radiate into space and cool your ship.

Note: Air, and therefore air temperature, is not yet simulated in the game.

Cooling Components

Air Cooling An air cooling unit cools the air that passes through it. The unit needs to dissipate the heat it strips from the air, however, and can do so with the aid of a heat pipe or another cooling component, such as the thermoelectric cooling plate.

Requires: Electricity, atmosphere

Radiator A radiator is a closed circuit of pipes, ideally made of a conductive material, and filled with a coolant. A small internal pump circulates coolant through the pipes. Radiators absorb heat from adjacent ship components and radiate it into space, preventing buildup of heat to dangerous levels.

Requires: Electricity

Thermoelectric Cooling Plate Thermoelectric cooling plates use a an electric current to create a heat flux and transfer heat from one side of the plate to the other. Thermoelectric plates can be used to cool hot components by placing the heat-absorbing side of the plate against the hot component, and the heat-emitting side against a heat sink such as heat pipe or a radiator.

Note: While these increase the rate of heat transfer between blocks, they do so at a price, resulting in a net heat gain on the hot side of the plate.

Requires: Electricity

3. Energy Production

If you want your ship to do things, you'll need to produce energy for it to use. There are a variety of ways to produce energy. Placing these components on the same wire network as power-consuming components will allow the consumptive components to work, assuming enough power is produced. A word of caution: many energy-producing components are also heat producers, so employ cooling systems accordingly.

Note: Energy simulation is not yet implemented in the game.

Energy Production Components

Diesel Engine Diesel engines combust diesel fuel and oxygen to produce electricity. The electricity can then be accessed by any component on the same wire network. As diesel engines use up oxygen when running, it may be wise to use life support equipment to compensate.

Requires: Electricity, diesel fuel, oxygen

Fission Reactor Fission reactors are large and powerful energy-producing ship components. Fission reactors provide electricity to components on the same wire network as the reactor.

Fission reactors are large, resource-intensive to produce, generate significant heat, and must be produced in a very large factory. However, just one fission reactor can meet the electrical needs of most vessels.

Requires: Electricity, uranium

Fusion Reactor Fusion reactors are the largest and most powerful known energy-producing ship component. They provide electricity to components on the same wire network as the reactor.

Fusion reactors are large and resource-intensive to produce, and must be produced in a very large factory. However, just one fusion reactor can meet the electrical needs of all but the largest of vessels.

Requires: Electricity, hydrogen

Solar Panel Solar panels capture energy from light and converts it to electricity, which can be accessed by any component on the same wire network.

4. Energy Storage

Once you've produced energy, you may plan to store some of it for later use. Having a high energy storage capacity is a good way to have more energy available for immediate use than would be available simply from using it as you produce it. Energy produced by an energy production component, such as a fission reactor, may be stored by an energy storage component, such as a battery, on the same wire network.

Note: Energy simulation is not yet implemented in the game.

Energy Storage Components

Lead-Acid Battery The lead-acid battery stores power from any energy production component on the same wire network. Its stored electricity can be accessed by any component on the same wire network. The lead-acid battery has a lower storage capacity than a high-tech battery, but is less resource-and energy-intensive to produce.
High Tech Battery The high-tech battery stores power from any energy production component on the same wire network. Its stored electricity can be accessed by any component on the same wire network. The high-tech battery has a greater storage capacity than a lead-acid battery, but is more resource-and energy-intensive to produce.
Small Power Cell The small power cell is a compact, high-capacity electricity storage device. It is capable of storing more power than the lead-acid battery, or even the high-tech battery. However, this high capacity comes at the cost of stability, and the small power cell may become unstable under non-ideal conditions and electrocute player characters and clones upon contact.

5. Resource Networks

It's not enough to simply produce electricity or have fuel in a tank; you need to transfer that electricity and fuel to components that can use them. That's where wire and pipe networks come in.

     Electricity Transfer

Simply put, power-consuming components like terminals and railguns can be powered by linking them to a wire network which is also attached to a power producing component like a reactor, and/or to a power storage component like a power cell; so long as the power production and storage components on the network produce sufficient power for the consumptive components on the network, they will continue to function. Note: Wires not directly connected to a component terminate in a wireless power node, which supplies all nearby components with power.

     Material Transfer

Similarly, a material-consuming component such as a thruster or an oxygenator can be supplied by linking them to a pipe network attached to a material source, such as a tank. So long as there is sufficient fuel or other fluid/gas in the tank, the consumptive component will continue to function.

Note: Power and resource transfer is not yet simulated in the game.

Resource Network Components

Grinder A grinder moves solid materials out of a hold and into a pipe network, another hold, or an empty space. A grinder can be used to extrude ammunition from solid blocks of material in a hold and move it from the hold to a weapon such as a railgun.

Requires: Electricity, one side facing the interior of a hold

Hold Interface The hold interface block is a computerized hatch that designates an empty space as a hold, and allows for insertion and extraction of user-selected materials from a hold.

The player uses the hold interface block to designate a hold by placing the interface in the only hole remaining in an enclosed space, with the interface's rear surface facing into the hold. Once the interface is in place, the entire enclosed space on the other side of the interface from the player immediately becomes a hold.

Requires: Electricity, one side in the interior of a hold

Pipe Pipes carry liquid or gaseous materials between holds, tanks, and components that produce or need materials. A pump can be attached to a pipe network to move a material through the network, or attached to a tank to move liquid or gaseous material into or out of the tank. For example, a pipe can carry recycled oxygen from a CO2 collector to an oxygenator which disperses the oxygen into the ship.

The content and flow of materials through pipes can be visualized and managed at a materials terminal.

Wire Superconductive wires carry power between energy production components, energy storage components, and any components that require electricity. A wire not connected to a component terminates in a wireless distribution node.

Wire networks can be visualized and managed at engineering terminals.

6. Material Fabrication

In ScrumbleShip, everything from the simplest iron block to the most complex warp drive will need to be built - nothing comes from nothing. All useful items will need to be fabricated in factories, which are molecular 3D printers constructed by combining factory blocks into a hollow box big enough to hold your desired end products. Simply add raw materials to the factory, set it to the desired blueprint, wait, and take out the finished product.

The raw materials you put into those factories come from asteroids - the place where ScrumbleShip's economy begins. Asteroid ore contains varying amounts of minerals, such as iron and diamond. Blocks of asteroid ore are placed in an ore foundry, which breaks the ore into its component minerals until it has enough of a certain type of mineral to make a pure block, and then ejects the pure block and the residual ore.

These blocks may then be used to build a ship's structure; they may be combined with other raw blocks in a factory to make alloy blocks like steel; or they may be used as raw materials in a factory for more complex components like a laser or chair.

Note: Material mining and fabrication are not yet simulated in the game.

Material Fabrication Components

Factory A factory uses molecular 3D printing to disassemble blocks of raw materials and assimilate them into ship components or commodities.
Ore Foundry An ore foundry melts and refines raw asteroid ore into its constituent materials, and outputs the results. This is the primary way in which building materials will be produced.

For example, the player character or clones can insert iron-rich asteroid ore blocks into the ore foundry to produce chondrite (stone) blocks and iron blocks. Most asteroids consist largely of iron and chondrite; thus, when an asteroid ore block is inserted, the ore foundry will immediately return a block of chondrite, and store whatever fraction of iron the original block contained. When enough ore is inserted and enough iron stored, a solid block of iron is dispensed.

7. Material Storage

If you plan to keep the items you find and raw materials you mine in the game, you'll need someplace to put them. In ScrumbleShip, you don't have bottomless pockets into which you can shove a thousand steel blocks; you'll need to build a cargo hold to put them in. A hold can be built as large as you want, so long as it can fit in your ship, and your ship has the propulsion systems to propel all the mass contained in your hold. Hold contents may be added and removed via a hold interface .

Aside from solid materials like ore and blocks, you'll also want to contain liquid and gaseous materials like fuel, cooling and drinking water, and air for breathing. These can be stored in tanks. Like holds, tanks may be built as large as you want/as your ship can handle. Liquid and gas may be added to and removed from tanks by a pump.

Hold and tank contents may be monitored and visualized at a materials terminal.

Note: Material mining and storage are not yet simulated in the game.

Material Storage Components

Hold A hold is built to contain solid materials. For example, a hold can be a container for mined asteroid ore. A hold is created by building an enclosed space, such as a cube, and filling the last remaining hole in the enclosing wall with a hold interface.
Tank  A tank is built to contain liquid or gaseous materials. Examples include: a fuel tank containing hydrogen for a fusion reactor; water for cooling; or oxygen to be dispersed via oxygenators. A tank is created by building an enclosed space and filling the last remaining hole in the enclosing wall with a pump or pipe end.

8. Propulsion

Once you've got a ship with life support, cooling, and energy production/storage systems, you may wish to use it to go somewhere. Because ScrumbleShip adheres to a Newtonian physics model, you will need thrusters on all sides of your ship so it can maneuver, and even on the front of the ship if you'd like to be able to brake, rather than flip 180 degrees to stop.

Thrusters will require energy to work, such as the fuel burned by chemical rockets. Fuel can be pumped to thrusters along a pipe from a fuel tank.

Note: Propulsion is not yet simulated in the game.

Propulsion Components

Chemical Rocket Rockets accelerate a ship by combusting a liquid or gaseous fuel and expelling the resultant gas at high speed. The rocket pushes the ship on a trajectory opposite to that of the ejected reaction mass.

Requires: Electricity, fuel

Jump Drive Jump drives allow ships to travel large distances in an instant. Because jumps are so energy-intensive, and because jump drives are large, only vessels with adequate space and high energy production and storage can use them.

Requires: Electricity

Small Rocket A small rocket is in identical to a full size chemical rocket in all but its size and thrust. Its smaller size makes it a good choice for a maneuvering thruster, as it consumes less fuel and exerts less force than a regular rocket.

Requires: Electricity, fuel

Solar Sail A solar sail is a large, ultra-thin mirror that uses the radiation pressure of light from a star or laser to accelerate itself, and an attached ship, to high speeds.

9. Weapons

While you might be a fair-minded, peaceable citizen of the galaxy, not everyone in the void is so reasonable. You are likely to encounter pirates, mercenaries, and maniacs who like to fight for the sheer fun of it. Therefore, it's best that you arm yourself.

ScrumbleShip will place a wide variety of weapons at your disposal, from small point defense weapons to kilometer-long modular railguns and lasers you construct to your exacting specifications. Energy weapons such as lasers, and electromagnetic kinetic weapons like railguns will require a significant source of electricity. In general, each weapon will be controlled by its own weapon terminal, which clones and players will use to see what the weapon sees, aim the weapon, and fire it.

Note: Weapons other than a handheld laser rifle are not yet simulated in the game.

Weapon Components

Hull Breacher A hull breacher consists of a high-powered drill used to bore a hole in a ship's hull, and a prefabricated airlock which self-assembles to seal the bore hole and provide ship-to-ship access.

Requires: Electricity

Laser A laser emits a coherent beam of light to heat and melt materials and enemy vessels. it can be fired in bursts, or continuously for as long as desired, or as long as the ship's energy production and energy storage components can provide power. A weapon terminal can be used to adjust the power draw of a laser and achieve higher or lower energy output and damage potential.
Mine Mines are self-contained explosive devices placed in space, typically stationary but possibly homing or moving on a fixed vector, to damage space vessels. Mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel. Mines may be loaded with different payloads.
Missile Tube A missile tube is used to launch missiles, which may contain different ordinance and propulsion systems.
Point Defense Chemical Kinetic The WazuTek Point Chemical Kinetic Gun is a shipboard weapon which fires several thousand high velocity slugs per minute to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles, small enemy craft, or enemy personnel at short range which have penetrated the outer defenses. Much smaller and weaker than a ship-to-ship kinetic gun, a point defense chemical kinetic gun can track and destroy smaller, fast-moving targets much more reliably than a ship-to-ship weapon.
Point Defense Flak Gun The WazuTek Point Defense Flak Gun is a shipboard weapon which fires several hundred high velocity slugs per minute. These slugs contain a timed explosive which detonates the slug into a hemisphere of hundreds of sub-munitions to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles, small enemy craft, or enemy personnel at short range which have penetrated the outer defenses.
Point Defense Laser The WazuTek Point Defense Laser is a shipboard weapon which emits emits an intense, coherent beam of light to destroy incoming anti-ship missiles, small enemy craft, or enemy personnel at short range which have penetrated the outer defenses.
Railgun A railgun fires a conductive projectile at up to relativistic speeds by propelling it along two electromagnetic rails connected to a strong power supply. A railgun requires ammunition from an ammunition cache. The power level of a railgun, and therefore speed of the projectile and its potential damage, can be adjusted at a weapon terminal.

10. Portals

There are a number of portals available to a Scrumbleshipwright, ranging from basic doors to airlocks. Because a ship pressurized with breathing air must remain airtight to the vacuum of space, it is wise to employ airlocks as the sole mode of ingress to and egress from outside a ship. Within the ship, ordinary doors may be used to control access from one compartment to the next. However, even inside the ship, it may be wise to install airlocks between compartments; they take longer to operate than doors, but compartmentalization using airlocks will allow one compartment to be depressurized without depressurizing adjacent compartments.

Note: Air and air pressure are not yet simulated in the game.

Portal Components

Airlock An airlock allows player characters, clones, and objects to pass from a higher-pressure space into a lower-pressure space (or vice versa) while greatly reducing any loss of pressure from the pressurized space.

Requires: Electricity

Diaphragm A diaphragm is a simple organic door which may be opened or closed. It is an airtight membrane, but does not allow passage between a pressurized area and a less pressurized area without affecting the pressure on the other side of the diaphragm the way an iris (organic airlock) does.

Requires: Oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood

Door A door is a simple barrier which may be opened or closed. It is airtight, but does not allow passage between a pressurized area and a less pressurized area without affecting the pressure on the other side of the door, the way an airlock does.
Gravity Door A gravity door is a simple barrier which may be opened or closed. It is airtight, but a door opened between a less pressurized space and a more pressurized space will result in a pressure transfer. An airlock avoids this problem.

A gravity door is intended for use in an area of the ship which enjoys artificial gravity generated by centrifugal force. Therefore, it is two meters tall rather than one, allowing for vertical ingress and egress.

Hangar Door The hangar door is a modular door component. It can be attached to other hangar door blocks to form one, larger door. Hangar doors may be used to create a permeable barrier to enclose a hangar deck, factory, or hold. They are needed to help enclose and provide access to the products of a factory.

A player character or clone may use an engineer terminal to open or close a hangar door.

Iris (Organic Airlock) The iris is an organic airlock. Like an inorganic airlock, an iris allows player characters, clones, and objects to pass from a higher-pressure space into a lower-pressure space (or vice versa) while preventing any loss of pressure from the pressurized space.

Requires: Oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood

11. Amenities

A ship is many things. It is a beast of burden to haul goods to market; it is a steed to bear you between planets; it is a sword to smite the foe and a shield to shunt his lance; but most importantly, it is your home, a beacon of light and warmth in the cold void of space. Because of this, it behooves a captain to provision his ship with amenities that make life onboard not only possible, but pleasant.

There are several things a captain can do to make his ship a hospitable home to both himself and his crew, above and beyond things like basic life support. As human beings, the crew will need to eat quality food, sleep regularly, bathe, and entertain themselves to be happy and effective at their tasks. A crew without these amenities will suffer reduced morale and efficiency.

Note: AI crew, morale, and effectiveness are not yet simulated in the game.

Amenity Components

Beacon The WazuTek Beacon is a small light that draws its energy from a ship's power supply, rather than from an internal battery as does the notoriously unreliable WazuTek Work Light. Beacons may be turned on and off, set to flashing mode, and set to emit different colors either by flipping a switch on the light, or remotely via engineer terminal.

Requires: Electricity

Bed Beds increase clones' effectiveness by allowing them to sleep comfortably.
Chair Crew can sit in chairs, which improves their morale and effectiveness by increasing their comfort.
Clone Vat The clone vat serves three main functions: (1) it produces new clones, (2) heals player characters and clones, and (3) reproduces clones and player characters upon death.

Clone vats are large and energy- and resource-intensive to produce, but provide a theoretically inexhaustible supply of replacement crew members.

Requires: Electricity, liquid water, solid carbon blocks, and solid chondrite blocks in the pipe network

Crash Couch Crash couches protect crew from excessive g-forces resulting from extended thrust or sudden deceleration, providing protection for acceleration up to 20G's for up to 1 minute.

Crash couches also immobilize crew inside them, preventing them from crashing into objects upon a sudden deceleration like ship-to-ship impact.

If no bed is available, a crew member will claim a crash couch instead, and gain a smaller effectiveness and morale bonus.

Folding Wall Chair The WazuTek folding wall chair is designed to be affixed to a wall, or to be positioned to cover a passageway through a wall. It has three different positions: stowed, with the seat bottom and seat back flush against the wall; open, with the seat bottom and back positioned like a chair to support the sitter; and "door", with both the seat bottom and seat back folded down.

Crew can sit in wall chairs, which improves their morale and effectiveness by increasing their comfort.

Gun Locker Gun lockers store small arms for use by crew in boarding actions and/or mutiny.
Hygiene Station The hygiene station is a combined toilet, sink, and shower. Its availability significantly boosts effectiveness of clones.

Each hygiene station's water supply is self-sufficient, as it purifies and recycles all wastewater. A small amount of organic material byproduct is produced in the process, which can be disposed of or used as raw materials.

Requires: Electricity

Light A light emits photons on visible wavelengths, allowing players and clones to see. If there is insufficient light to see, players and clones will need to employ an alternative light source like a spacesuit flashlight, or lose effectiveness and morale.

Requires: Electricity

Ration Block Ration blocks are an inexpensive food source that may be consumed by clones, though more complex food that grants higher effectiveness boosts will be achievable. Ration blocks keep hunger from lowering the effectiveness and morale of and eventually killing clones.

Ration blocks can be assimilated in a factory from organic materials such as chondrite from asteroid ore, or hygiene station recycling byproducts.

Security System The security system will help protect your ship from unwanted player character or clone contact and theft. A security system is recommended, unless you want your materials and other stuff stolen.

If the security system detects an intruder it will alert the main monitoring center, which will contact and deploy nearby law enforcement.

The security system can be activated by entering the 4 digit pin (press E while pointing to the system). It can also be turned off by this 4 digit pin, but failure will result in the police response outlined in the above paragraph.

Requires: Electricity, monitoring service, satellite

Storage Locker Storage lockers slightly increase crew effectiveness and morale by giving player characters and clones a place to store small personal possessions.
Suit Locker Suit lockers contain spacesuits, which protect player characters and clones from life-threatening effects of radiation, extreme temperatures, and oxygen deprivation. The suits' thrusters allow for better maneuverability.
Suit Recharge Station The suit recharge station is a universal charging, oxygen refill, and refueling station for the spacesuit. A player character or clone wearing a suit simply plugs its universal charging/refueling tether into the port, and the resources will be topped off.

A suit recharge station must be linked to: a powered wire network, and a pipe network linked to a tank containing oxygen and a tank containing fuel in order for it to be able to refill all three resources.

Requires: Electricity, fuel, oxygen

Work Light The WazuTek work light is a small, battery-powered light used to illuminate a workspace, which may be attached to surfaces via suction cup or allowed to float freely. They are inexpensive and may be treated as disposable when their one-hour battery expires, or they may be collected by the frugal for recharging or recycling as raw materials in a factory.

Their inexpensiveness comes at the cost of reliability, and work lights have been known to fail well before their one-hour battery should expire.

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