Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Create a random 3D spaceship with shapeWright

An "Exonaut" Class Destroyer!
Looking for a vessel to take to the stars and beyond? You're in luck (as long as you're not picky!) because you can whip one up by hitting the "Build It" button on shapeWright. It's basically a random shape generator that quickly puzzles together a spaceship from pre-made forms.

Here's the "Torquemada" being built. A fuselage appears and a con tower falls into place (must be a command ship!)....

After a few more forms attach, a secondary fuselage appears! Definitely a large crew complement...

The final piece, fresh from the shipyards:

How it (seems to) work
The designs themselves are rather blocky, kinda' like a video game. But there's something very satisfying about hitting that button and watching your ship come together! You can even have it brought into meatspace via 3D printer (though the prices are pretty hefty at this point). Luckily, for the rest of us, there's the download button. The viewer is very simple though, and not everything appears centered on the screen. Not satisfied? Hit the button and pop out another one! I had fun putting in celebrity names and characters as well as just mundane words. It's case sensitive, allowing for a different design with caps added or not.

"Black Adder"

Ideas for use in gaming
In thinking how you could make this useful for gaming purposes, you could probably find a VRML (the download file format) viewer that would let you position the finished piece the way you want and then print out a jpeg. Right now the shapeWright just rotates the model on an axis. You can poke at it, but it doesn't really stay level enough to take a satisfying screen grab.

Once you have your ship, stat that puppy up and start flying! If you loved it enough, you also could order the printed model as a miniature. I think prices need to come down a lot or customization of your own design would need to be implemented for that to become a real consideration though (at least for me--prices start around $40).

One other item to note--when you name your creation it stays in the shapeWright memory. At least it seems to (I tested a few models 3 or more times). Here's a few ships I whipped up this morning (click on them to enlarge and see detail):

"EVO 1"




"Hand Sanitizer" (I was toying with whether more or less letters affected the randomization...still inconclusive).


My favorite so far is the "Powder Puff", here's the front:

Here's her engines:

She's definitely no push-over! Another tip: If you type in the name exactly as it's on these pics, you should pull up the exact same model (it seems that way). 

I do have one wish, which is that it would let you select some options like a class of ship and then it would slap on the appropriate module (doesn't really matter how or where). So imagine typing in "destroyer" and some heavy guns get attached or "scout" for smaller ones or maybe "recon" for a radar dish. 

Anyway, it's a neat internet gadget to mess around with!

UPDATE: Maybe you wanna start with the stats first, or you're so lazy you can't be bother statting up your random built space vessel. Try Chaotic Shiny's Spaceship Generator.

Props to Boing Boing for posting it this morning!


  1. What a great tool to experiment with--thanks for sharing this!

  2. Yeah, it's a cool little toy, huh? I just added another random generator to the post that can whip up stats too!

  3. That's just good fun - thanks for passing it along. A quick screen shot and paint job in the GIMP and you've got yourself a nice little hand out for what's on sale at the local spaceship dealership.

  4. Great find, Jay! and you beat me to the terrific ChaoticShiny stat generator....

    Question: does anyone make a good & reliable shareware/freeware VRML viewer?