Oct 16, 2010





  • Basic Coastline
  • Making it Round (unfinished)
  • Climate Basics
  • High and low Pressure
  • Prevailing Winds
  • Surface Currents
  • Preliminary Precipitation  (optional)
  • Finalized Elevation and Coastline
  • ...


  1. I like what you're doing here. Scientific world-building has been a hobby of mine for years, and it looks like you're trying to be thorough about it, and as rigorous as reasonable possible.

    I'm a biologist with a fair amount of training in chemistry, and I love working out the relationships between the planetary environment and the lifeforms that evolve to cope with it. I see that you haven't gotten that far yet, since you're still working your way through the geophysical parameters of the planet. I'd be interested to see what you come up with for the biosphere.

    Looks like you're losing steam, though. The blog entries are getting fewer and farther between. Is it the lack of feedback? I seem to be the only commenter you've had in a year. You've done a lot of work so far and I'd like to encourage you to keep going.

  2. Thanks for the message.

    The basic issue is that i had more free time when i started this. And i tend not to work in a linear, orderly manner. So according to my steps, i'm working on "Finalizing Elevation", and have progress on bits and pieces of nearly everything that comes after, such as biology and history.

    The method i've chosen to build elevation produces very satisfying results, but is insanely time consuming. Many dozens of hours remain before that's complete. Elevation used to be the next step in the program, so i was stuck there documentation wise. The steps in this index are a recent, new plan. See here for an example of the elevation: http://www.jwbjerk.com/art/main.php?g2_itemId=498

    Since you mentioned Biomes, this thread includes my many current ideas about additional Biomes: http://s1.zetaboards.com/Conceptual_Evolution/topic/3583176/1/
    I'd like to take it even further within the bounds of carbon/oxygen/DNA based life, but that's what i have so far. Since this Orb is repeatedly colonized, i have vaguely planned a series of transitions where new biomes and species crowd out others, which i haven't found developed much elsewhere but could be pretty interesting. For instance feral grain from human agriculture finds extremely little competition and carves out for itself huge biomes, since the planet has no "grass" and native and previously imported animals aren't adapted to eating the gritty silica-high stuff many of our herbivores are designed for.

    But, yes, as you point out the documentation of my project on this blog has mostly been on standby for 2010... something i would like to remedy. But realistically this project or the documentation of it won't be quick. I can trace some of the pieces that are going into this project back to 1992. So the interest in the Orb project will abide, but the interest in documenting the process, is more tenuous. Positive feedback never hurts to provide a little extra motivation, but i don't expect this to bring me the adulation of the masses.

  3. Thanks for the link, I'll check it out.

    I'm not a very linear worker either. :) I had a Geocities page on general planetology a long time ago that I never got around to finishing, mostly because I never got any visitors or feedback. It disappeared along with the rest of Geocities a couple of years ago.

    I've seen lots of programs that will give you a pretty fractal surface for a planet, but none that do mountain ranges realistically. Real mountains form in arcs and chains over subduction and collision zones, and there is nothing out that that I've run across that does the folding of the crust. Individual mountains, sure, but not realistic mountain ranges. If you have found something different, I'd be interested in hearing about it.

    Grass is a C4 plant, and it's pretty aggressive. I can see it taking over a biosphere where there are few competitors. But eventually, something is going to evolve to handle eating it. How long has it been since grains were introduced? Given a basically compatible biochemistry and a few thousand years of natural selection, I'd be surprised if nothing did. Also, in the absence of grazing animals, there is no selection pressure on the grass itself to produce inedible silica to discourage herbivores. It's metabolically expensive, and mutants that don't do it can use that energy for other purposes (growing bigger, making more seeds, etc.). It takes only two or three decades for terrestrial organisms to speciate in the face of strong selection pressures, so if it hasn't happened on Orb, it would be difficult to explain.

    You might do well to read up on invasive species on Earth as a model. I'm in the eastern U.S., where extensive biome changes have already happened in my lifetime and are accelerating. A walk in the woods or a swim in the Finger Lakes today is a very different experience from what it was thirty years ago. I never saw a patch of garlic mustard crowding out the trilliums or worried about shredding my feet on zebra mussels as a kid.

  4. You know, since i have an index, i don't need to post in an orderly manner. And that link about the biomes, now that i look at it, doesn't include more recent thoughts. I'll try to get up a more complete post "soon" so you have something better to respond to.

    As for the Elevation, in that area i wear the hat of an Artist more than Geologist. There's no program-- i'm just doing it by eye, more or less using this method: http://www.cartographersguild.com/showthread.php?10304-How-to-Apply-Realistic-Elevation-from-Real-Maps-to-Yours.

    Sometimes i use fractal generators as a jumping-off point, but i've never seen one that didn't look fake to me -- especially as the mountains are generally all smack in the middle of continents.

    As for the grass, remaining "special", the timeframe for my history of this Orb is a nice manageable few thousand years. Grass that stopped producing silica would find itself vulnerable to the various native (and alien) herbivores that weren't adapted for dealing with silica-laced food. Also some escaped imported herbivores that are silica-adapted would probably establish populations in many of newly founded prairies.

    I like the thought of something as mundane as grass being the destructive, aggressive alien invader.