Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Infinity: Terraforming Bourak

I've aligned myself with Haqqislam in the world of Infinity; a combination of the low-tech miniatures with less of an anime aesthetic (in my opinion) and the background story of a "new islam" reverting to its humanist roots really appealed to me.  The happy coincidence of this choice is that the Haqqislam planet, Bourak, is a desert planet much like our middle east.  I see this as an opportunity to create a playing board a little bit different to the urban landscapes I've seen throughout the Infinity community, with (hopefully) some cross-over into terrain for the modern skirmish wargame "Force on Force" by Ambush Alley Games.  A multi-purpose board will save on storage, time, and money!

I see the Haqqislam faction as having been influenced by the Fremen of Frank Herbert's Dune in addition to the obvious contemporary middle-eastern and islamic cultures.  I've also looked at Tatooine from Star Wars for inspiration; its another well-known science fiction desert setting after all.  I've collected samples of the following art to try and get a feel for how desert settlements can be portrayed in Sci-Fi:

"Dune" by thegryph.deviantart.com.
A mixture of high-tech and desert hovels.

A scene influenced by a middle-eastern bazaar with high-tech elements

Tatooine: Rough structures with high-tech fixtures.
The design of the buildings seems subtly different to contemporary culture,
giving the landscape its own flavour.

I think that the above images will be useful.  I'm not sure that they're exactly what I'm going for here but they've given me a few ideas:
  • Subtly changing the shapes and designs of buildings can make them seem both traditional and futuristic at the same time;
  • It may not be flavourful enough to just "strap on" a few token high-tech items to traditional style buildings - they may look out of place, and I suspect that the lines of traditional buildings may not be crisp enough for the Infinity aesthetic;
  • Deserts are dusty and dirty places - while Haqqislam are supposedly the masters of terraforming, I doubt they keep their landscapes spotlessly dusted; and
  • I could recreate the traditional middle-eastern bazaar with an Infinity high-tech theme.  For awnings, perhaps suspended sails with crisp lines, or awnings made out of coloured perspex similar to the terrain pieces made by Micro Art Studios. 
My intentions at this stage are to create a desert themed board with buildings made out of apparently natural material (modelled stone and clay) that blend in and function well with the environment.  This could work with pre-made terrain designed for a contemporary setting, such as the resin pieces pictured below.  In terms of having a multi-purpose board these models would be ideal as with removable/interchangeable parts they could be appropriate for both settings.  My concerns are with this is that they won't quite be unique enough for Infinity in that they don't really fit with the "flavour" or aesthetic of the world so well, and they may not necessary fit in with the background of Haqqislam.  They're the leaders in the fields of medicine and terraforming, so they're hardly likely to be residing in mud-brick hovels.

A resin middle-eastern themed hovel
from www.colonialsteamboat.co.uk
A two story building (converts to ruin)
from the Miniature Building Authority
My favourite: A two-story hovel
from www.crescent-root.com
A single-story resin hovel
from www.thewarstore.com

All of these terrain pieces are fine.  Some better than others, and some certainly more worth the price tag.  I think they'd all be passable with some modification for an Infinity table.  However, they're an expensive option, especially given that they'd need to be shipped to New Zealand; in light of this is "passable" good enough?  I don't really think they fit too well with the infinity aesthetic - there is a bit much damage to the walls of the hovels for my taste, and I'm not too sure how old buildings in Infinity should look.  Bourak hasn't been colonised for that long, after all.

The other idea is to scratch-build buildings using foamboard and other materials.  This would allow me to design the buildings to have clean though subtly traditional lines more in line with the Infinity aesthetic, and would be significantly cheaper, though more time consuming, than using pre-made resin terrain.  Unfortunately, this would probably mean that the terrain wouldn't be appropriate for use with Force on Force.  There is of course a third option - paper terrain.  I suspect that I may utilise this while I am in the process of building more resilient terrain.  I'm not particularly "crafty" or creative-minded (years of doing language based stuff at university probably forced all of that out of me), so I expect that I'd find making buildings slow going.

What do you think?  Does anyone have any relevant experiences with making terrain for Infinity?  Any hints, tips, or favourite products that you could comment on?  Any help would be appreciated!


  1. We've spoken about this amongst my gaming group. I actually have quite extensive experience of North African Architecture, especially Morocco and I'd suggest looking up modern North African architecture as it retains much of its classical design aesthetics with a very modern twist. I'd also recommend looking at Lebanese and Jordanian architecture as examples of where such architecture might be heading in the future.

  2. PS you might also want to consider habitat domes given there use of biology and natural science.

  3. Considering that you live in NZ and shipping cost might drive up an already expensive product, I would recommend making your own terrain. Sure it takes longer but it is more rewarding in the end.

    The building-style that you're going isn't hard either. There are a couple ways you can do it.
    1) Hallow buildings: this would be buildings were you can place models inside, made from foamcore or even coak flooring tiles. You make the basic structure then you add details from GW kits and stuff. Pretty simple but it does take some time to make and get right. plus you have to do lots of measuring and planning.

    2)block buildings. These are much easier to make but you're not able to place models inside them. These you just get a sheet of pink insulation foam and cut out blocks and shape them to the building you want to do. Then you just add details. It's what I have done here: http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-hIRqVX8qlyM/TjQIAT_7MXI/AAAAAAAABMI/iUHXv2GWEM4/s1600/DSC_0832.JPG

    To give them the stone texture you coat them in watered down wood filler. easy, quick and really cheap. One sheet of foam can give you more than enough buildings for an entire infinity gaming table.

  4. Having thought about my post and your comments I think that I'll go with making buildings out of foamcore; that way I'll have more control over the style and they'll be much cheaper. I like the idea of cladding them to give it a stone finish! Good idea!

    Thanks Frontline, I will definitely have a look into those architectures. I should probably have thought about this as the Infinity world isn't set too far into the future, and to be honest the design of Dune and Tatooine isn't exactly modern.

    I'd been thinking about habitat domes and how I could make this work in a practical sense for a gaming table. I could perhaps work with one large dome feature, with smaller crop domes or juvenile plant domes. Things like empty drink containers could come in handy here I think. The insides of the domes could be lush, while the foliage outside of them would only be green in the hardiest and oldest establish groves of trees. I'm really looking forward to adding parched static grass all over the place!