Dec 042013
 

Hey everyone. Chaos here, and I wanted to welcome everyone to the new site layout. Hopefully if you’re new here you’ll take this chance to look through some of the older posts and catch yourself up. Don’t worry, we’ll wait.

*crickets chirp*

Alright, great. Now that you’re caught up I’ll go ahead and introduce myself for those that didn’t look at the backlogs and are just going ahead with this. I’m the prop builder of the group, in so much that they let me paint over nerf guns and make interesting things that may or may not light up and make sound. I modify pieces or items we can find to fit characters (mostly weapons at this point) and in some cases I’ve even created bits from scratch. I kinda fell into the job since I’m going to school for an Engineering Master’s degree and I really can’t make costumes, but it’s actually been a lot of fun.

Bob- Gun and Holster

The gun was modded personally, but the holster was purchased.

I’ve done a few posts on what I think about when coming up with pieces for character costumes, but this is actually something that I ran into when going over my next project. I was talking with Yami about some of the ideas I had and she mentioned that it wouldn’t really work because if someone WAS wearing said prop as a real thing, it would be really hot and probably burn whoever was wearing it. I countered that Steampunk is somewhat fantastical so I didn’t see what the problem was, but she insisted that it didn’t make sense. We eventually settled on another design for the prop that worked with something less problematic, but it got me thinking. How much do the props we wear in Steampunk have to worry about real-world physics?

Not a clue what's it's for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

Not a clue what’s it’s for, exactly, but who cares? For SCIENCE!

There’s some merit in not worrying about how props would actually work in the real world. There are a lot of props that you see at Steampunk conventions wouldn’t really work by the strictest sense of science, but they have enough grounding in them that you can see how they work with just that dash of outlandish that makes them interesting. Personally, I’ve always liked science fiction and the more outlandish the design, the more interesting I find it. I always find my mind wondering how such a device would work. Could you make something that actually functioned like that, and what sorts of science would have to be changed just for that one piece to work. It could just be my years of being facinated with sci-fi and robots and ray guns and all that stuff that makes me worry more about ‘what would look interesting’ rather than ‘what makes sense for the characters and setting’. Not that you can just ignore setting or characterization if you’re trying to make a coherent world.

Lucasbuild1

This is Lucas Warren. He’s my steampunk character and is something of an amoral businessman. He’s high class and does everything he can to keep it that way. Lucas knows all the right parties to attend, the right people to impress, and the good business sense to press an advantage when he has one. He has his prejudices, but they’re mostly to those he would find useless to his goals. If you provide him with an advantage, he has little qualms with what else you do. If you become a hinderance, he will not hesitate to cut you off and cast you aside. If you have something he requires, he will find every way to relieve you of it, and it will all be done with business deals and subordinates.

Lucas is a very particular character with a set of goals, characterizations, traits, and themes and while I’d love to give him something like a steampunk crossbow or some sort of mechanical display that hangs from his hat, I wouldn’t because it doesn’t fit his character. I think it would be cool, but it would just clash with everything that the character presents. That doesn’t mean that there won’t be some interesting additions to the props later (mostly once I get a bit more time) but anything he has needs to fit his character and theme. You have to strike a balance between ‘what looks interesting’ and ‘what fits the character’. It helps with making pieces that ‘fit’ a character rather than making a prop and trying to jam a character around it.

Ultimatly, it comes down to the goal of a prop. I think that if it’s something that’s supposed to go with a character, you need to keep the prop within the bounds of what the character would carry around. If you’re making a prop to just go ‘hey, that’s an interesting idea’ then I’d say the sky is the limit. Let your imagination run wild and see what sort of contraptions you could make.

I’d like to welcome anyone to give me their take on the topic. Do you think that props have to be bound to a specific set of rules or can they be completely unbound from any one interpretation of Steampunk? Do you think it can be both? Do you want to just share some ideas you might have on props you are/would like to make? Go ahead and leave a comment with your ideas and here’s hoping you’ve all enjoyed my little introduction to my side of the group.

Sep 032013
 

Hello and welcome to Chaos Theory. It’s a little segment I’ll be doing from time to time about steam punk and the interesting things behind it. Today I’ll be talking about the Steam Engine. I’ll also be as scientifically accurate as I can be…hopefully. At least I’ll try to stay on topic. So let’s start this how all good scientific talks start….with slides!

*click*

*click*

This is a steam engine. It uses the princi- …What, that isn’t the first one? But I thought that I sho- Fine, hold on. Sorry about that. Apparently there’s a discrepency.

*click*

*click*

Alright, THIS is-

Oh what is it NOW! I put up the-

…it’s HOW old?!

From WHERE?! Huh.

Ok, I’ll start there.  Sorry, folks. Looks like I’ll have to go back a bit further.

*click*

*click*

(looks around expectantly)

Alright, I think we’re good now. This is an aeolipile. It’s said to be the earliest model of a steam ‘engine’ in so much that it uses steam to do mechanical work. It was designed in 1st century Roman Egypt by the Hero of Alexandria. He’s pretty famous for some of his other designs, like a wind-powered organ and the first vending machine.  “But Chaos, wasn’t the steam engine not widely used until many centuries later?” you say. Well…yes. You see, the aeolipile might be the first steam engine, but it wasn’t really able to do much work. I don’t mean that it didn’t move, but that the amount of force it was able to generate wasn’t really able to do much. Basically it was a proof of concept and a cool looking toy. It wouldn’t be until 1680 before cylinders were even added.

*click*

*click*

The next design they had were more steam pumps than engines. They used boiling water with release valves to move a pump down and the resulting vacuum from the cooling steam to pull the pump back up. It was actually a very ingenious design that used techniques from earlier models to improve the efficiency of the engine. This was the design used until the 18th century, where the need for smaller, high pressure engines for factories become higher.

Now, why did I bore you with all those facts about steam engines? Well, where do you think Steampunk started? It was the idea that, after the industrial revolution, these sorts of engines remained the standard and were improved far beyond what they normally were. In fact, Steampunk didn’t really ‘happen’ until the 1980’s. I realize that movies like Metropolis and early tv shows like Wild, Wild West helped pave the way, but the term didn’t appear until after their creation.

Original version. Personally, I like the later version done in the Astro Boy style, but that's for another time.

Original version. Personally, I like the later version done in the Astro Boy style, but that’s for another time.

Now, the big question I had when I first started looking into Steampunk was ‘Why?’ Why would someone imagine a world where the steam engine was the dominate technology instead of petrol? Why have a world of glass tubes and electricity rather than the world of gravity wells, teleporters, and all the trappings of science fiction as I had grown to know it. Well, my theory is…that some people just thought it would be interesting. I mean, that’s the reason far future science fiction is what it is now. People looked at what we had and said “Wow, I wonder what they’ll do in the future?” People like Jules Vern and William Gibson looked at the past and said “I wonder what would have happened if THAT stuck around?” It’s really just a different way of looking at things. It’s a creativity that I respect and only wish I had a fraction of. Well…that and I like seeing how people bend and stretch current figures and technology to fit with the aesthetic.

Well, I hope I didn’t bore anyone to tears with my information. I hope even more that some of you found it entertaining. Now, if you think I glossed over anything important, want to add your own theory, or just wanna discuss a bit with others just comment below. Now that we’ve done the steam engine, hopefully you come back next time for another major inspiration for Steampunk. We’ll be seeing how all of this ‘ticks’ inside with Clockwork.