The Homeworld franchise of real-time strategy video games re-create space-operatic fleet battles in the tradition of Star Wars and Star Trek, while The Expanse TV series, based off the best-selling novels by James S.A. Corey, features more realistic space ship designs and an aesthetic of space warfare inspired by real-world physics. However, the spaceships seen in previews for the upcoming Homeworld 3 do share interesting similarities with the spaceships seen in the Expanse show; were the 3D animators working on Homeworld 3 inspired by the ship designs in Expanse, or were the 3D animators working on the Expanse inspired by ship designs seen in earlier Homeworld games?
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Homeworld, Homeworld: Cataclysm, Homeworld 2, and other games in the Homeworld franchise whole-heartedly ascribe to the “World War II Naval Battles, but in Space” depiction of space combat, a not-quite realistic paradigm popularized by the Star Trek and Star Wars franchises. Large spaceships like Frigates, Destroyers, Battlecruisers, and Carriers correspond to the naval vessels in service during World War II – powerful and tough, but slow-moving, while swifter vessels like corvettes, interceptors, or bombers correspond to propeller-driven fighter planes and bombers. Despite being in the weightless vacuum of space, the vessels of Homeworld move around as if they’re in an atmosphere and dogfight with each other at practically point-blank range.
Developers of Homeworld games use a very cinematic depiction of space travel in their game’s mechanics – partially to emulate the Star Wars/Star Trek space scenes mentioned above, and partially because realistic space travel can be very technically complex (as seen in simulation games like Kerbal Space Program or Children Of A Dead Earth). Despite the gap between the stylized space wars of Homeworld and the more realistic space combat in The Expanse TV series, there’s still a intriguing similarity in the designs and profiles of Homeworld spaceships and Expanse spaceships, particularly in the gameplay previews Blackbird Interactive has released for Homeworld 3.
The Homeworld 3 Railgun Frigate May Be An Homage To The Expanse
The Expanse portrays space travel in a visual style much more faithful to real-world physics, and as a result, space battles in this series are very different from naval or aerial combat. Spaceships move through space in accordance with Newtonian physics, firing off their rocket engines to accelerate, then flipping around and “burning” in reserve to decelerate. Space combat itself is a long-distance affair, with ships firing missiles and railgun shots at each other from far beyond visual range, then using a combination of maneuvering and point-defense turrets to survive the enemy counter-attack. Sometimes damaged spaceships will dramatically explode, but most of the time, a space battle in The Expanse ends with the losing ship a drifting hulk, riddled with hull-breaches and rocket engines shot to bits.
A recent update on the Fig.co page for Homeworld 3 unveiled a new warship unit called the “Railgun Frigate,” a more extreme version of the classic Ion Frigate with a massive spinal railgun mount, capable of charging up and launching a ship-killing projectile from a very long range. Similar in style to the plume-ejecting railgun weapons seen on capital ships in The Expanse TV series, the “Railgun Frigate” may well be Blackbird Interactive’s homage to the beyond-visual-range combat seen in The Expanse episodes such as “CQB.”
Homeworld 3 Ship Design Shares Elements With Martian Spaceships From The Expanse
In the most recent update on their Fig.co page, the creative minds behind the visual assets of Homeworld 3 talked in great detail about how they dream up and implement the various ship designs in their game. Most of the time, developers start by deciding on the core function of their new spaceship (beams, missiles, support repair, defense, etc.), then introducing limits to ensure gameplay balance (it’s slow, fragile, expensive to build, locked behind tech trees, and so on). After the functionality of the ship is established, illustrators and 3D modeling experts go to work, drawing inspiration from the visual styles of previous Homeworld video games, the FX of sci-fi movies and TV shows, and odder motifs such as the heads of “Mecha robots” or dinosaur skulls.
Of all the vessels seen in the Expanse TV series, the spaceships of the Martian Congressional Republic bear the closest resemblance to the spaceships seen in past Homeworld installments – sleek hulls with flat, angular layers of armor, colorful exterior decals, and a subtle asymmetry. Neither the developers of Homeworld 3 or the concept artists for The Expanse have officially cited each other as sources of inspiration for their ship designs. Even so, the Homeworld games are a classic mainstay of science fiction visual design, while The Expanse broke new ground in the presentation of space battles and space-faring societies on TV, and odds are good the creative artist of these two franchises as well aware of the cool stuff the other “party” is doing.
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