Saturday, April 20, 2013

Episode 19 - Ptemos

Hosts: Jim, Jon & Kent

Guest: Matthew Wayne Selznick

Finally, a new episode with actual world-building in it! Though in this episode, we go about it a little differently. Our guest, creator Matthew Wayne Selznick, walks us through the process of building a truly habitable planet, as detailed in his book World-Building for Writers, Gamers and Other Creators, Volume One: Star, Planet, Moon. We develop the world, and from there we brainstorm up a sentient species with a primitive culture.

Image courtesy of Victor Habbick /

During the course of recording, we found a pretty cool site about language: Edenics.

RECOMMENDATIONS: Jon recommends SimEarth.

Mentioned in this Episode:

Brave Men Run / Brave Men Run Podcast Novel
7th Son / 7th Son Podcast Series

Anyman: The John Smith EP
Tee Morris
Torus / Hypercube
Gila Monument



  1. Listening to Matthew Wayne Selznick speak about World building and his books was amazing.

    I could see this being a useful tool for an artist as a good way to inspire an environment, world, society to develop concept art.

    I have always been interested in drawing more than just creatures and to get into some environmental drawings too.

    I do wonder at times from conversations at the table and listening on here what it would take to be on an episode to simply take part in creating a world with you all during a podcast.

    Consider this my make a wish request...

  2. I find it funny that you used 36 hour day, I always found it cool when they used 36 hours in movies I have watched as well.

    If you have a 36 hour day, how often would you see the moon(s) in the sky on a planet like that.

  3. Good to hear you guys on the air again! Really neat to see the hard scifi approach to world building in action. As much as I like hard science though, I tend to wince a bit when I see world building articles that start with "what sort of star do you want to have?" As a mathematician, I can appreciate it as a "from first principles" approach. But I don't find it as useful from a creative writing standpoint. Having dozens of knobs and dials to play with is fun when you sort of know what they do, but can be very intimidating to most.

    I would suggest an alternate approach focusing on what astronomical / geological feature(s) would you like to change or incorporate? Rather than playing with a dozen parameters, start with the most exciting one, and assume all other settings are "earthlike". What would happen if the moon was a hollow space station? What ramifications would that have on the planet? What happens if the planet has a highly eccentric orbit? What do you need parameter to be to get a Hoth-like planet? (Yes, I realize Hoth was pretty unscientific...)

    Unrelatedly, I'll just add that the dark-back light-stomach colouration on most flying animals is something called countershading where the top of the animals is colour darker than the bottom. This has less to do with matching the colour of the ground / air than it does with eliminating the shadow on the underside of the animal. You can see this in most birds. The effect is more pronounced in underwater creatures (ex: killer whales and penguins). WWII and pre-WWII planes (and some ships) also experimented with this type of camouflage (turns out it's actually counterproductive in dogfights as it highlights the direction of your turns... and it's all moot with the advent of radars anyways... that's why they're "low visibility grey" now).

  4. Awesome episode! Hopefully we won't have to wait as long for the next one. What I would like to see in a future episode is to take the same process for building a world you did for Ptemos, but instead change one value to be very un-earthlike. Drastically change the planet's radius, the orbiting distance, or even the density and then try to create a world around that. Hopefully you will end up with something very weird but also very original.

    Keep up the great work!