Scrap, Parts, and Junk

Hey Folks! Took a bit of an art and research break today, focusing on adding components and scrap to the game.

Now that we're starting to use tools to break down ships, and ships can receive damage, I thought it made sense to add items to represent some of the smaller pieces that result from each. We have loose components that can be removed and reinstalled elsewhere (or sold), but there are some things we'll only be able to break down into smaller parts if we want to move or make use of them. E.g. ship framework and bulkheads, sections of wall, dead equipment, etc.

Initially, I started with scrap metal. Specifically, steel. But I quickly realized that's pretty old tech for a sci-fi space-faring setting. What are spaceships really made out of?

It turns out that the primary materials in most space vessels are a mix of aluminum (Al) and carbon fiber (CF). Frequently, a lattice or honeycomb of the former with sheets, plates, or shells of the latter. There's more, of course. Steel still figures in some parts. As does titanium, gold, various fabrics and weaves, and other composites. And future tech might introduce nanomaterials and exotics. But for the main structure on run-of-the-mill blue-collar ships, a big chunk of it is going to be the Al and CF.

Doing a bit more research, it appears CF is also fairly non-recyclable. So in terms of salvage, it's the Al most people will care about. CF scrap can be used, and even cooked/shredded to make new CF, but the resulting CF from salvage is always weaker than the original.

With that in mind, I started to fit salvage components into three categories: parts, scrap, and trash.

Parts are pieces you can pull wholesale from one object and be able to reuse in another. Things like screws, washers, bolts, PCBs, switches, chips, etc. And these will basically work a lot like small parts, threads, twigs, and other crafting components in NEO Scavenger.

Scrap is material pulled from a finished object. It's rough and mostly unusable directly (think twisted metal), but has material value if melted down or refined. This might include pieces of framework or structure cut from a ship or other larger equipment.

Trash is what it sounds like. Not usable directly, non-recyclable, and completely without value. If you sort your household trash, you already have a feel for this. Things like plastic wrapping, stuffing/insulation, dried paint, medium density fiberboard, soiled paper products, and certain mixed-material stuff too worthless to spend time separating.

There's also probably room for a "raw" category for things like ore, and some sort of category for refined materials ready to be used in manufacturing. I'll get to those eventually.

In today's image, you can see some of these items as they appear in the game. On the left, the unlit source images (and some of the existing conduit stuff). And on the right, as they appear under a ship's lighting. From left-to-right, top-to-bottom, they are:

  • Power conduit (installed)
  • Power conduit corner (installed)
  • Power junction (installed)
  • Scrap steel
  • Power conduit (loose)
  • Power junction (loose)
  • Aluminum scrap
  • Small mechanical parts
  • General consumer/household trash
  • Electronic parts
  • Carbon fiber trash

A lot of the stuff on ships already should break down into one or more of these. A few things might require more exotic parts, like the reactor, nav station, etc. But this at least gets me started.

One thing I found myself thinking over and over during this: I'm going to need stackable items. I always had a gut feeling I would, but this exercise especially highlighted the need. Each of these items represents about 0.1kg of material, since I figured some really small items wouldn't have enough material to produce 1kg of scrap. And for larger items, it won't do to have 100s of these items each in their own tile. A single kg of scrap would cover a room's floor!

So it seems likely I'll need stacking to avoid running out of space. And that's no small feat. But I might hold off on that until I've hooked a few of these up to damage and salvage interactions to see if any other gotchas appear.

For now, however, it's time to week-end. Have a good one, all. And see you next week!

Tags: Ostranauts