creative elements

‘Build A World’ – Ideas Part 2

After discussing, dissecting, criticising and combining our multitudes of ideas from last week, each member of my group has decided to take two or three of their favourite ideas and develop them further.

One concept that was of particular fascination to me was the theme ‘parasitic‘. I particularly liked the idea of a giant creature, bigger than most planets, that moved through space and was populated by a civilisation of some sort, thus combining the ‘parasitic’ idea with the themes of ‘wandering‘ and ‘gigantic‘ as well. After discussion with the other members of my group, the idea was also expanded to include the ideas for ‘rotten‘ and ‘carnivorous‘ worlds as well.

I was definitely inspired by the location ‘Knowwhere’ from the film Guardians of the Galaxy – a community that exists inside the decapitated head of an ‘unknown celestial being’, which is mined for its minerals – as well as the planet-sized creatures Balmera from the series Voltron: Legendary Defender,  which exist in symbiotic harmony with the creatures that live on them. However, the inhabitants of MY world definitely do not have such a sweet relationship with their host….

Concept art for Guardians of the Galaxy by Kev Jenkins.


Illustrator Chris Riddell also influenced the concept art.

(I am aware I am not the only one with an idea along these lines – Ryan Loughran also talked about his idea for a parasitic world-devouring leech…. honestly my idea is based more off of a tapeworm than a leech… so they’re like…completely different!!!!)


Below is the concept piece I produced for this idea:

Bad Photo Of My Sketchbook Which I Really Need To Replace With A Scanned Image

The second idea I wanted to develop was that based on the concept of a ‘storm world‘. (I must prepare you now, for below I have unleashed my inner nerd. Yes I had an inner nerd, I know I’m a nerd on the outside anyway but believe me , the inner nerd is so much more…. nerdier.)

Whilst numerous ideas were generated from this phrase (see my previous post) the idea I liked the most was for a gas giant planet not unlike Jupiter from our own solar system.

I liked this idea because it tied into the ‘storm’ theme in several ways – both in that the planet Jupiter was named after the chief god of the Ancient Romans, who wielded lightning bolts as weapons, and in that the planet itself is has a large and extremely turbulent atmosphere – for example the famous ‘Great Red Spot’ is a storm system that has raged for nearly two centuries.

Jupiter’s Great Spot as photographed in 1879 and 2014. Credit: Damian Peach

For this more scientific approach I took also took inspiration from an episode of the miniseries The Universe with Steven Hawking, in which the famed scientist discusses possible forms that alien life could take. In this episode Hawking contemplates life taking forms which are totally unlike that which we find on Earth – “forms so strange we wouldn’t even recognise them as life”, as Hawking himself puts it.

(The episode can be watched here if you are interested in finding out more, with narration by Benedict Cumberbatch and CGI visuals by Red Vision Media. I feel like it would be excellent to reccomend for future character design modules!)

As far was we know a gas giant would have no solid surface for life to develop on, but it would get denser towards its core, with the inner layers of the atmosphere consisting of metallic liquid hydrogen or a similar substance. When considering what kind of life forms could live on/in such a planet I thought again about how strange they would be to our terrestrial, carbon-based eyes.

Image from Fox network’s science documentary series Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, depicting the view from within the Great Red Spot. Really fires the imagination.

Working off of this and the ‘storm’ concept, I thought that a form of life that was essentially composed of sentient energy – living lightning bolts – could be interesting!  Such creatures would be able to inhabit the majority of a gas giant’s body, perhaps taking different forms to survive within the different layers and densities of the planet. The idea was also inspired by the fact that Jupiter has the largest and most powerful magnetosphere of any planet in our solar system (to the point where it is, to my understanding, essentially melting Io, one of its moons.)

Image depicting the influence of Jupiter’s magnetosphere. Taken from Wikipedia, original uploader credited as Volcanopele.

As for the lifestyle of these creatures… Hawking also talks about aliens potentially living and dying so fast “that they come and go in the blink of an eye” – and indeed this would make sense for creatures that exist in instantaneous energy form.

Another idea I have about the life these lightning creatures might live is based on the culture of the Roman empire which gave Jupiter it’s name – I envision such life forms being cruel and warlike, frequently conflicting with one another.Or perhaps they could be more regimented, a hive mind, links in one gigantic, organic, electronic network so that the entire planet is like one giant brain…

The ‘glass brain’ image created by Gazzaleylab in Unity3D.

Another idea which my group agreed was interesting was inspired by the fact that a planet with the sheer mass of gas giant would likely have a number of orbiting rocky moons. These moons could potentially host other lifeforms that, existing on a solid planet, are somewhat more familiar to the Earth-based viewer . . . and thus a conflict between the two worlds could exist and create material for a storyline. (For example, in the above video Hawking discusses how the gravitational pull of Jupiter also exerts an influence of the frozen moon of Ganymede and the potential for life to thrive under the planetoid’s surface.)

Unfortunately I have not produced any concept art for this idea – because, as I said during my group’s presentation, how on earth do you visualise an idea like that???

(On the other hand, maybe that means we’re onto something…)

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