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  1. #1
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    A question of functionality in sci fi designs

    Just wondering if I'm the only one who gets annoyed at sci fi design these days, especially designs of robots and armoured suit type things.

    When I was a kid I would look at Warhammer 40k space marine miniatures and try to image the human being inside. The guy had to be at least 10 heads tall. I can deal with that one, it says in the fluff that these guys are superhuman and huge. But then comes the question of proportion. To fit into the suit you had to have 5 head wide shoulders, a tiny waist and enormous legs. Another example of this is the battle suit from Starcraft 2, see example attached.

    Attachment 1506670

    Another point i wanted to make are the bipedal walker robots. There is a reason we don't make them in real life! And this reason is because they fall over. I just imagine someone coming up to one of these mechs and throwing a stone in their center of gravity. Unless they have some really really advanced AI, the three points of contact thing will not happen and they will topple.

    Anyway, that's just some of my thoughts on the topic. What do you think?

    So is functionality important in your designs, or does it just have to look cool. Discussion - go!
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  3. #2
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    It depends. If I'm expecting the thing to work in real life, then stuff like that would bother me, but if it's something like Warhammer 4K then I'll say whatever (I'm pretty sure even the creators are aware how ridiculous the suits are) as long as it invokes at least the Rule of Cool.
    I mean there's a lot of things that just wouldn't work in real life (there's a reason why there still aren't even quadrupedal robots in actual use, let alone bipedal), but that's partly why at least I want to see them in fiction.
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    Keep in mind there are many different "subgenres" in sci-fi. They usually have different level attention to technological realism and most of the time it's intentional. For example space opera or science fantasy (like wh40k) usually have less functional design than near-future or hard sci-fi.

    Unfortunately hard sci-fi appears less in games and movies for many reasons.

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    I love the rule of cool. Thinks gyros, hydraulics etc. but really sophisticated. Avatar did an interesting suit. If you would have drawn someone 100 years ago listening to music on something the size of large postage stamp people would have written this same kind of thing in a CA newspaper discussion group.

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    The rule of cool is a very, very cool rule. It's like Feng Zhu said in one of his tutorials, that it doesn't matter what you draw, as long as it looks cool.

    I tend to agree with you TinyBird, but things like that still annoy me. I'm sure all of us watched a sci fi film and shouted at the screen, "That would never work!!!". Or maybe I'm just a nutter who shouts at his TV

    And just as an aside, four legged walkers do exist and are feasible. Prime, and the only, example being DOG used by the US military right now. It's a great design and is a basis of all my artistic endeavours.

    I guess good design has to combine some "cool" and some functionality in equal dosage.
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    For me it has to A) Look cool...and A) look reasonably functional. And vice-versa. To me funtional is cool. I can't think of a single cool sci-fi design that also doesn't look reasonably well designed and thought out.

    Now "cool" can sometimes be clunky or campy or retro or any number of things. When I design things I always think to myself, "Would Syd dig this?"...that helps keep me on track.
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    I keep thinking, 'How the heck would they take a dump?' with most of them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    I keep thinking, 'How the heck would they take a dump?' with most of them.
    Built-in toilet. Or a tube.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    I keep thinking, 'How the heck would they take a dump?' with most of them.
    Bombs away trap door?

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    Quote Originally Posted by dpaint View Post
    Bombs away trap door?
    One hopes they don't get the squits then.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Black Spot View Post
    I keep thinking, 'How the heck would they take a dump?' with most of them.
    I built one. It's a recycling system. Comes out, goes into a easy bake synthesizer and out pops a high energy snack. Goes right to the mouth through the suit. No touch no fuss.

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    How do they fit in the suit? The obvious solution is that they simply amputate all four major limbs and replace them with extendable bendy robot arms.

    A question of functionality in sci fi designs
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    Anybody else think all of those designs are boring. It's okay if they are genuinely going for irreverent, fun and whimsical, but they're usually not. They are typically Liefeild-esque.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Raoul Duke View Post
    Anybody else think all of those designs are boring. It's okay if they are genuinely going for irreverent, fun and whimsical, but they're usually not. They are typically Liefeild-esque.
    Probably shouldn't lump "all of those designs" into one. There are and were innovative and also lots of bad copies.

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    "Why does this mecha have tits? Apparently for the same reason it's painted pink: so that we know it's being piloted by a girl."

    http://www.denbeste.nu/Chizumatic/20...W_mechas03.jpg

    Too many words about why mechas are stupid
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    most functionality even on todays real world machines is unseen or done by black boxes of electronics. and i can imagine future machines would be totally incomprehensible to us.

    so your entertainment design has to show what the thing does. guns have to look shooty, rockets zoomy, robots really robotic (as opposed to sleek, bafflingly complex biologically sophisticated ur-machines, for example). its because makers of entertainment products need children and imbeciles to understand whats going on so they keep buying them.
    if you want properly interesting speculative industrial design, read a hard sci fi book.
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