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An updated collage of all six in-game homeworld planets for Stars in Shadow. Clockwise from top left: Gremal (Gremak), Rastaban II (Ashdar Teros), Bacabs IV (Orthin), Verrold (Yoral), Ashdar Prime (Ashdar Haduir) and Tendao (Phidi).

9/6/14 edit: Added the Rastaban and Tendao images. The current build now supports rings, cloud shadows, and specular highlights.

Gremal: Violent tectonic activity has created a dual-layer geography of high-altitude highlands and very low-altitude basins. The extreme altitude of the highlands concentrates all cloud activity into the central equatorial basin, resulting in very heavy regular rainfall in the lowlands, and an extreme desert climate in the highlands. Global temperatures are high, which help to drive constant rainy weather. The western hemisphere lowlands consists of dense rain forest river valleys that drain into a large muddy southern sea. The eastern hemisphere lowlands are dominated by fetid freshwater lakes and marshlands. Gremal is native to the Enfi, who arose in the western rain forests, and the Gremak, who arose in the eastern marshes. At the time of the Collapse, Gremal was subjected to a devastating bombardment from orbit, even more severe than those that occurred on other inhabited systems of the period, which drove the majority of the native species to extinction. The Gremak survived, and the lowland ecosystem has substantially recovered from the catastrophe. The highlands are almost completely lifeless, the native high-altitude ecosystem having never recovered from the bombardment, the scars of which are still obvious from orbit.

Rastaban IIRastaban is a young system, and the second planet has a high rate of rotation and experiences violent weather and occasional impacts from the debris that still litters the system. A thin ring of pulverized rock circles the planet. The native life forms are still primitive, and so the ecology is dominated by the descendants of the Teros Ashdar that colonized in ancient times before the Collapse, and the transplanted life forms that were brought with them. Rastaban’s geology reveals a long history of periodic asteroid impacts, but the enormous impacts from the time of the Collapse which created the large-scale cratering seen today were surely no coincidence. The Ashdar survivors of the impacts, mostly of the hardy Teros sub-species, slowly rebuilt their technology and civilization in isolation from their homeworld. Trained to fly in the violent and unpredictable weather of Rastaban’s skies, Teros pilots are second to none.

Bacabs IV: Like many iceball worlds, though Bacabs is well outside the normal habitable zone of its primary star, its core still generates enough internal heat to melt and maintain a planetwide subsurface ocean. Bacabs’ mantle is especially active, producing powerful geothermal plumes that melt the ice all the way through the frigid crust, exposing the ocean in spots to the surface, generating and sustaining a thicker than normal atmosphere for this type of planet. These plumes drive an unusually diverse chemosynthetic ecosystem which produced the Orthin, the only known sentient species to evolve on such a world.

VerroldMillennia ago, Verrold was a garden-type world on the outer edge of its sun’s biozone, with a cold climate but verdant forests and seas teeming with life. The Yoral evolved from arboreal creatures and had developed into the earliest stages of a primitive culture when environmental catastrophe struck, and Verrold was plunged into a deep ice age, from which it is only now starting to recover. The ice sheets advanced almost to the equator, driving most terrestrial life forms to extinction and destroying the forest habitat in which the Yoral had lived. The hardy and adaptable Yoral coped with the catastrophe admirably well; one group migrated to the coastal areas and learned to live off the remaining marine life, which had not been as hard-hit as the land ecosystem. The remaining portion of the Yoral retreated to the caves and learned to cultivate Verrold’s cave molds and exotic fungi. This “tunneling” group’s inventiveness made them very successful, carving out great underground fortresses, eventually re-colonizing the frozen surface, and ultimately developing high technology. The self-contained, sustainable mold farming practices of the tunnelers would serve the Yoral well when transported to new colony worlds, and the Yoral can thrive on marginal systems on which other races struggle. Verrold is just now starting to warm, but the surface is still dominated by the great ice sheets.

Ashdar PrimeThe Ashdar homeworld is a ruined planetwide megacity, once the capital of a great empire spanning a great portion of the galaxy. The empire fell in the same ancient catastrophe that destroyed the warp lanes, and the capital, cut off from the trade that sustained it, descended into anarchy and consumed itself. Millennia later, the descendants of the Ashdar still cling to the crumbling ruins of the capital. It is now a colossal graveyard, but ancient technological secrets still lurk within the depths of its crypts, and the ancient stargate, now dormant, still hangs in orbit. Ashdar of both sub-species live here, united under the rule of Haduir Emperor Heiropolin XXIV, who claims descent from the Ashdar emperors of old.

TendaoTendao is a large ocean-covered world, comparatively ancient and poor in heavy elements. The planet’s crust is quite porous, allowing circulation between the ocean and the hot mantle, resulting in many hydrothermal vents, but few full-blown volcanoes. At some point in the distant past, Tendao was more tectonically active than it is now, and a large part of its surface is dominated by a vast equatorial plateau that was thrust up high above the surrounding deep-water basins, forming a single supercontinent. Though tectonic activity has since greatly reduced, the planet continued to warm over the millennia, and sea levels rose to cover the supercontinent. Only the peaks of the vast southern mountain range still rise above the surface of the planet-wide ocean; wave action has eroded all other dry land below the surface. Today, Tendao has especially warm and calm weather, especially in the crystal-clear seas of the central plateau; stronger currents in the deeper water carry nutrients and warmth even to the poles, which are ice-free year round. The planet has negligible axial tilt, and so very little seasonal variation in weather. The seas of the central plateau are very shallow, making an ideal habitat for the native Phidi and the marine ecosystem which supports them. The deeper waters are largely uninhabited, the Phidi preferring to stay near the surface, away from the deeps and the large predators that still lurk there. Though Tendao is poor in heavy metals and industrial minerals, it is abundant in Opil Crystal, a rare and exotic substance that is formed in the plateau’s unique hydrothermal calderas, from which hot water rich in light minerals constantly bubbles. Opil is a key trade good for the Phidi, and their settlements tend to cluster around the calderas that produce it. Tendao once had a single distant moon, but it was pulverized at some point in the distant past by an unknown catastrophe. A belt of debris still exists in the moon’s former orbit, and a thin ring of finer debris orbits close to the planet.

Special Planet concepts:
Stars in Shadow: Special Planet Types by AriochIV 

Stars in Shadow is a space 4X strategy game currently under development. 

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Set of Phidi ship assets for Sven Olsen's starship combat game project (same as ship designs here). Updated with the second set, including the colony ship and heavy carrier.

The Phidi are an aquatic race of traders. They have essentially three multipurpose hulls: courier, tradeship and supership, which are modular and can be configured for warfare, commerce, or anything in between. The Phidi prefer to hire alien mercenaries to do most of their fighting for them.

Being aquatic, the habitation sections for the Phidi are filled with seawater. The caustic pattern on the sea pods is animated in the game engine; it looks pretty cool.

Stars in Shadow: Phidi Scientist by AriochIV 

See the Phidi concept sketches here.
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Artwork for the Stars in Shadow game project.

These are weapon assets for the Human fleet, and some shot effect concepts. 

In the game, you research technologies that unlock increasingly larger ship hulls and increasingly more sophisticated weapons. Each hull contains varying number and sizes of empty hardpoints, in which the player can place their choice of weapons that they've researched. Some weapons have heavy or point defense ("PD") variants. For a simplified view of the weapon tech tree see here

Each race will have its own set of weapon visuals, though some of the individual items may be recolors of this generic set. Some races will also have unique weapons.

Weapon Types Description

Weapon damage is classified into four basic types:
  • Heat: basic beam damage type, can be countered by special conductive or ablative armor; damage decreases with range
  • Kinetic: projectiles such as coilguns or railguns are shield-piercing weapons; damage is constant with range but hit chance falls off rapidly with range
  • Explosive: missiles and plasma weapons have explosive effects that can splash across shields and damage armor
  • Charged: electrically charged weapons like ion beams can cause additional internal damage
The damage types of different weapons and their placement in the tech tree can be seen at the bottom of this image.

Notes on Individual Weapon Systems (keeping in mind that everything is still subject to change):

Laser: basic tier 1 beam weapon
Turbolaser: advanced tier 2 laser; alternative to ion beam
X-ray laser: armor-piercing laser variant
Disruptor: causes additional crew casualties
Ion Beam: tier 2 charged beam
Neutron Beam: can cause crippling effects
Fusion Beam: advanced tier 3 beam weapon
Plasma Cannon: tier 2 heavy explosive beam
Hellbore: tier 3 advanced explosive beam
Force Beam: tier 3 kinetic beam weapon
Stellar Surge Beam: tier 4 ultra-tech doom star weapon

Atomic Missile: tier 0 explosive projectile
Coilgun: tier 1 kinetic weapon
Fusion Missile: tier 1 explosive projectile
Railgun: tier 2 longer-ranged kinetic weapon
Antimatter Missile: tier 2 explosive projectile
Pulson: tier 3 energy torpedo
Black Hole Projector: tier 4 ultra-tech projectile

(edit 7/10/14: added third-tier weapons.)
(edit 8/21/14: added weapon types description to the comments.)
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These are most the of Human ship assets for Stars in Shadow. The playable Human faction (red) doesn't start with a homeworld; rather, the player starts with an outpost in an uninhabitable system, and has an extra colony ship and population transports. The Human ships are tough and capable, but not especially well-groomed. Also included are color schemes for the pirate/mercenary "Death's Hand" faction.

It's fun to be able to use actual numbers and letters instead of made-up alien script. :D

edit 5/6/14: added carriers and fighters.
edit 5/26/14: added scouts and battleships.
edit 5/27/14: added troop assault ship and missile cruiser.
edit 7/1/14: added civilian transports.

You can see the ship concept sheet here.

Stars in Shadow is a space 4X strategy game currently under development. 

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These are the Orthin ship assets for the Stars in Shadow game project (same as ship designs here). Rather than post a second image, I've added the second batch to the first. Starting at upper left and working around clockwise in a spiral to the center are: escort cruiser, troop transport, carrier, gunships (with small and large cannons), battlecruiser, empty "framework" cruiser hull, civilian transport, colony ship, empty gunship hull, destroyer, scout, heavy cruiser, and dreadnought.

The Orthin ships are a bit more complicated than the Ashdaar (Hawk) ships in that they're more modular and have more moving parts. The heavy beam weapons retract behind gunports, the yellow power systems pulse, and the water caustic pattern on the colony ship is animated. They will also eventually have a shield capacitor that charges up visually as it absorbs energy.

Stars in Shadow: Orthin portrait by AriochIV 

(update 7/9/2014: added updated weapons.)
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A batch of Gremak ship assets for the Stars in Shadow game project, in both "Imperial" and "Marauder" color schemes.

Gremak warships can be observed in two very distinct color schemes: the ivory and gold livery of the Gremak Imperial Fleet, and the infamous red and yellow warpaint of the Marauders. The Marauders exist on the fringes of the Gremak empire, living by piracy and raiding neighboring aliens for slaves and plunder. The Gremak imperial government disavows any affiliation with the Marauders and maintains that they are a outlaw faction, but it is a poorly-kept secret that the destination for Marauder-taken slaves is often the estates of the Gremak aristocracy.

edit 1/6/14: added carriers and colony ships
edit 1/9/14: added battleships and escort cruisers
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Sized-up "correct color" image of the cruiser from page 95 of Outsider.
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Yoral ship assets for the Stars in Shadow game project.

The Yoral have rugged small ships with potent short-range weapons. They often overwhelm their more sophisticated opponents with sheer numbers.

(updated 11/29/13 with DN & CV)
(updated 6/18/14 with transport & colony ship)
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Concept art for Stars in Shadow, of how stars and planets are represented in the game.


In the game, star systems are abstracted to have four orbital slots, which can each have a planet or be left empty. Based on the star type (some being hotter or colder), each orbit has a heat zone which determines what kind of planet can exist in it (you can't have an iceball in a hot zone, for example). Not all orbits are valid for all star types; for example, a tiny red dwarf only has 3 orbits, to represent its smaller size, and a red giant is missing its inner two orbits, representing the fact that it is a dying star that has swelled to consume any planets that might have been in those orbits.

The planets themselves are abstracted into a range of set sizes, the terrestrial habitable worlds being in the range from small, medium, and large. The diagram at upper right shows a variety of planet types, and demonstrates how they relate to each other in terms of temperature, atmosphere thickness, and amount of surface liquid.

The "exploitation" concept addresses how the planet graphic changes due to player habitation and development. When a colony is established and as it grows, expanding cities become visible on the surface (and light up the night side). Particular types of development can change the surface; industrial development may result in visible pollution, and terraforming efforts may show the greening of otherwise barren landscapes.

You can see more planet concepts here, and how the planets actually appear ingame here.

Stars in Shadow is a space 4X strategy game currently under development. 
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Concepts from Stars in Shadow, a space 4X strategy game currently under development.

Like the Ashdar and Gremak, Human starfaring culture predates the ancient disaster that caused the collapse of galactic civilization. Unlike the other elder races, however, Humanity's remnants are completely displaced, without a home to call their own. They are found as refugees scraping out an existence on remote worlds, or limping from port to port in their ancient, barely functioning colony ships, trading or offering their services as mercenaries. Theft and piracy seem to come naturally to them, and they are tenacious close-quarters fighters.

You can see finished ship graphics here.

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