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Life on Lapat: Speculative Evolution


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This post is a bit hard to categorize. It’s part fan art, part suggestion, part general discussion topic, and part personal creative exercise. Mods, move this if necessary.

In the Celestial Architecting video and latest atmospheric scattering show and tell, we saw a planet in development called Lapat that was apparently covered in vegetation. While the devs have been cagey about the possibility of complex life on other planets, I think this provides us with ample grounds for rampant, optimistic speculation about life on Lapat, particularly animal life. This post is my “blank check” wishlist for the kinds of things I’d like to see.

In designing these alien animals, I'm trying to keep things both within the bounds of scientific plausibility and KSP's art style. With kerbals setting a precedent for the kind of life appropriate for the KSP universe, we can assume that any alien animal life will, like kerbals, be fairly simple, colorful, and funny-looking. Staying rooted in biology, the aliens also have to look like they're related to each other, but not to the kerbals. It should be possible to identify different phyla and draw speculative cladograms, but the Lapat family tree should still be kept fairly simple (like how the planetary systems are simple "toy" versions of real life). All major ecological niches should be filled, and we can expect that the Lapatians have found recognizable ways to fill them by convergent evolution, e.g. there will probably be things like "whales", "lions", "turtles", "birds", and "crabs". The animals must also be reasonable to implement into the game as animated actors with limited AI, hypothetically as DLC or something; so no intelligent aliens allowed, nothing so complex that the game becomes all about them and not the rockets. Gameplay-wise, aliens should be like mobile surface features for the player to find and catalogue.

I have a loose family tree that in mind that I'm building as a draw these. I wanted most of the dominant "vertebrates" to be tripods because it's simple, funny, and creates weird design constraints. We also have to have to goofy-looking bugs and squid things of course, since you can't have an alien planet without those. I decided that all the eyes should be just like the kerbals': white spheres with black dot pupils. This is the KSP version of a camera eye, which has developed in many unrelated species on Earth by convergent evolution, and is one of the features we would expect to see in real aliens if we ever found them. So not only are the googly eyes funny, they make scientific sense in-universe if we assume the kerbal eyes are "typical".

Anyway, my wild speculations follow. I will update this post as I add to the list.

Life on Lapat, A Traveller's Guide:

Nl4kOm9.png

Spoiler

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Stompachonkus seesawi

Stompachonks are the dominant herbivores on Lapat. Their enormous size makes them unassailable by predators, and their long necks allow them to reach vegetation anywhere. Like all members of phylum Tripoda, they have three legs, and while they walk on all three, they can stand on their front two, which they often do when they eat low-lying plants. The rear leg acts as a counterweight to the neck, allowing them to stand in one place and hoover up grass like a bucket-wheel excavator.

Spoiler

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Chungutherium hedbutti

Chungutheres travel in herds across Lapat's savannas, feeding on grasses and other ground-level plants. Their antennae are encased in large bony sheathes that they use as weapons, to contest dominance with other chungutheres and to repel attacks by large predators. 

Spoiler

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Jumpalopus hippidihoppidi

Jumpalopes are nimble herding herbivores. When threatened they can leap great distances and bound across Lapat's plains at high speed. They often find themselves running desperately from...

Spoiler

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Cursorus Vex

 C-Vex is the apex land predator on Lapat, running down and chomping its prey with its massive jaws. Unlike most other tripods, it moves entirely on its front two legs, its third leg being entirely modified as a tail counterweight to its massive head. This bipedal stance is an evolutionary holdover from its flying cousins like the Duffin, which perch on two legs when landed.

Spoiler

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Dromidudius wileium

Dromidudes are small, nimble land predators. They are extremely fast and will chase down anything they think might be mocking them. Thankfully they seem uninterested in prey that's kerbal sized or larger.

Spoiler

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Smeerpium mintyleafium

Smeerpies are tiny and ubiquitous herbivores. They can jump high in the air when threatened and their antennae are long and leaflike to disguise them amongst Lapat's grasses. Dromidudes interpret this form of camouflage as mockery.

Spoiler

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Duffus duffus

Duffins are a plague. They are stupid and they are everywhere. Avoid flying your rockets through flocks of them.

Spoiler

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Thtorkus nosedivius

Thtorks are Lapat's seabirds, patrolling the cliffs and coastlines of Lapat's oceans. They will patiently soar on thermals until they spot something in the water for them to dive upon and spear with their pointed head.

Spoiler

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Dagronium lockheedi

Dagrons are large, predatory, flying tripods that mostly hunt other fliers like thtorks and duffins. They are solitary creatures that build their nests on remote mountain tops and cliff edges. Although their names sound similar, they should not be mistaken for dargons, and certainly not for dragons. 

Spoiler

uEC6MQo.png

Galumphagumpis swirlitops

Galumphagumps are the turtle-analogs of phylum Noodleboia. They use their four proboscises as legs, stomping on and swallowing appetizing herbs as they walk. They can retract into their spiral shells when threatened. Their secondary appendages are modified as manipulators which they use to dig for food. Like all Noodlebois, they are radially symmetrical and have eyes on both sides of their bodies, providing 360 degree vision.

Spoiler

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Dippidorpus kyklopter

Dippidorps are flying "insect" noodlebois that feed mostly on carrion or decaying plant matter. They're mostly harmless and mostly annoying and often preyed upon by Duffins and Dromidudes. 

 

[To Be Continued]

_____

If there is ever to be alien animal life in KSP 2, I think it needs to be a balanced combination of silliness and plausibility. It needs to make you laugh first, then think "hey, that kinda makes sense". This bestiary is my humble attempt to check all those boxes and make a desperate case to the developers that they should add aliens to the game, because... I want them. Really bad. 

Edited by Timmon26
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This is really awesome! Well drawn, and I can see it fitting in very well alongside KSP's kerbals.

One small point of critique: The eyes are probably too similar.
In terms of life that is within the Kerbol system- besides Kerbals- there does exist a "Deep Space Kraken" easter egg on bop, in reference to the KSP community's terminology for game bugs.

Spoiler

Bop_Deep_Space_Kraken.png

Its eyes are slits, akin to a frog or a cat. Perhaps some inspiration could be taken from this?

On Laythe there also exists a whale skeleton beside a broken bowl of petunias- which is technically a reference to Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy- but maybe it could serve as a prompt for oceanic life?

Spoiler

Laythe_WhaleSkeleton.jpg

All that besides, amazing work, hope to see more in the future!

Edited by intelliCom
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I was all prepared to be very negative about this post, but those proposals are fine by me, but they all look like they are from the lapatian analogie of the tetrapod clade...

You still have a lot of niches to flesh out....

Including their aquatic precursors.

I would look to the seals, mudskippers, and icythostega for inspiration for an alternative transition mode. Two for limbs for pulling the body, and then moving up the rear of the body, kind of like an inchworm.

Edited by KerikBalm
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This is amazing and I can’t wait to see the rest of the animals you have in store. Just a few things from the game side: first, the major challenge of getting these things into the world could be solved the same way that terrain scatters are, by having perlin noise (preferably shifting over time) and generating herds via that noise. some creatures such as tiny crabs and duffins could be represented as particles animated to scurry around in a loop so that it looks like the flock is constantly flying around. 
 

gameplay would be nice too. Stompachonks look like they wouldn’t really pose any challenge for kerbals, but their size might block large rovers from passing through herds of them. In the middle of each jumpalope herd could be a C-Vex (which I think would be like a cat) would sniff at nearby craft and nudge them, potentially knocking them over. Duffins, if you fly through them, could apply random aero forces to random parts, messing up even the best planes. 

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10 hours ago, Timmon26 said:

This post is a bit hard to categorize. It’s part fan art, part suggestion, part general discussion topic, and part personal creative exercise. Mods, move this if necessary.

In the Celestial Architecting video and latest atmospheric scattering show and tell, we saw a planet in development called Lapat that was apparently covered in vegetation. While the devs have been cagey about the possibility of complex life on other planets, I think this provides us with ample grounds for rampant, optimistic speculation about life on Lapat, particularly animal life. This post is my “blank check” wishlist for the kinds of things I’d like to see.

In designing these alien animals, I'm trying to keep things both within the bounds of scientific plausibility and KSP's art style. With kerbals setting a precedent for the kind of life appropriate for the KSP universe, we can assume that any alien animal life will, like kerbals, be fairly simple, colorful, and funny-looking. Staying rooted in biology, the aliens also have to look like they're related to each other, but not to the kerbals. It should be possible to identify different phyla and draw speculative cladograms, but the Lapat family tree should still be kept fairly simple (like how the planetary systems are simple "toy" versions of real life). All major ecological niches should be filled, and we can expect that the Lapatians have found recognizable ways to fill them by convergent evolution, e.g. there will probably be things like "whales", "lions", "turtles", "birds", and "crabs". The animals must also be reasonable to implement into the game as animated actors with limited AI, hypothetically as DLC or something; so no intelligent aliens allowed, nothing so complex that the game becomes all about them and not the rockets. Gameplay-wise, aliens should be like mobile surface features for the player to find and catalogue.

I have a loose family tree that in mind that I'm building as a draw these. I wanted most of the dominant "vertebrates" to be tripods because it's simple, funny, and creates weird design constraints. We also have to have to goofy-looking bugs and squid things of course, since you can't have an alien planet without those. I decided that all the eyes should be just like the kerbals': white spheres with black dot pupils. This is the KSP version of a camera eye, which has developed in many unrelated species on Earth by convergent evolution, and is one of the features we would expect to see in real aliens if we ever found them. So not only are the googly eyes funny, they make scientific sense in-universe if we assume the kerbal eyes are "typical".

Anyway, my wild speculations follow. I will update this post as I add to the list.

Life on Lapat, A Traveller's Guide:

  Hide contents

j7ydltm.png

Stompachonkus seesawi

Stompachonks are the dominant herbivores on Lapat. Their enormous size makes them unassailable by predators, and their long necks allow them to reach vegetation anywhere. Like all members of phylum Tripoda, they have three legs, and while they walk on all three, they can stand on their front two, which they often do when they eat low-lying plants. The rear leg acts as a counterweight to the neck, allowing them to stand in one place and hoover up grass like a bucket-wheel excavator.

  Hide contents

ug4IOmp.png

Jumpalopus hippidihoppidi

Jumpalopes are nimble herding herbivores. When threatened they can leap great distances and bound across Lapat's plains at high speed. They often find themselves running desperately from...

  Hide contents

YvpVPN0.png

Cursorus Vex

 C-Vex is the apex land predator on Lapat, running down and chomping its prey with its massive jaws. Unlike most other tripods, it moves entirely on its front two legs, its third leg being entirely modified as a tail counterweight to its massive head. This bipedal stance is an evolutionary holdover from its flying cousins like the Duffin, which perch on two legs when landed.

  Hide contents

ir7FIOX.png

Duffus duffus

Duffins are a plague. They are stupid and they are everywhere. Avoid flying your rockets through flocks of them.

  Hide contents

uEC6MQo.png

Galumphagumpis swirlitops

Galumphagumps are the turtle-analogs of phylum Noodleboia. They use their four proboscises as legs, stomping on and swallowing appetizing herbs as they walk. They can retract into their spiral shells when threatened. Their secondary appendages are modified as manipulators which they use to dig for food. Like all Noodlebois, they are radially symmetrical and have eyes on both sides of their bodies, providing 360 degree vision.

[To Be Continued]

_____

If there is ever to be alien animal life in KSP 2, I think it needs to be a balanced combination of silliness and plausibility. It needs to make you laugh first, then think "hey, that kinda makes sense". This bestiary is my humble attempt to check all those boxes and make a desperate case to the developers that they should add aliens to the game, because... I want them. Really bad. 

Woah!

This's really cool!

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13 hours ago, Timmon26 said:

Gameplay-wise, aliens should be like mobile surface features for the player to find and catalogue.

I see a subnautica esqe part mod coming.

Edit: Your art is amazing

Edited by Admiral Fluffy
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One really interesting thing would be to know if Lapat is higher or lower mass than Kerbin and what its atmospheric composition and density are, as in theory that would drive a lot about what flora and fauna would look like there. For instance there's a loose biomechanical limit to the size creatures with exoskeletons can reach on Earth because of the square-cube law; as its size increases by x, its mass increases by x^3, but its surface area only increases by x^2. At a certain point exoskeletons become too fragile to support an animal's mass. There's also a limit on the size of creatures both with exoskeletons and endoskeletons based on available oxygen, which is why you had larger arthropods and larger reptiles (dinosaurs) millions of years ago when oxygen levels were higher. On another planet with say lower mass and a dense, high oxygen atmosphere you could see much larger, lankier fauna of both varieties. They might also be sleeker because of a reduced need for lung capacity and a higher need for air resistance. A super-earth on the other hand would likely have creatures more similar to trilobites, much lower and squatter to the ground to distribute their mass more evenly. The local star would also have an effect on ideal photosynthetic color, likely more red but also potentially blue or violet. If the star is close and/or more energetic than our sun is it could also potentially be unsuitable for land animals without heavy protective carapaces. 

All that's assuming these are creatures that have substantially similar organic chemistry to ours. There are also theoretical chemistries based on silicon or using ammonia or methane rather than water as a solvent or using different protein biosynthesis systems, which is where things could get really wild. 

A fun place to start if you're trying to think way outside the box on morphology and body plans is the Cambrian explosion. All kinds of weird stuff that could have been: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion

Edited by Pthigrivi
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I love this art so much.  Especially the brontosaurus-type one.  Its so awesome looking, and I love the massive scale of it. If you landed on a planet is KSP and saw that walking around, it would be so magical. 

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These sorts of animals would be great to have. I was originally fine with "just microbial life or none at all" but I hope they do something like this now.

+1

Some possibilities these open up-

1. Biology/ecology science rewards (that is, part of the Science in the game)

2a. Fossils which will be presented to you during mining

2b. Evolutionary studies? as science rewards

3. We can build zoos

4. Fun with off-world zoos and artificial reverse panspermia. IIRC, no animal-like organisms on Kerbin apart from Kerbals is canon- but what happens if we capture some of these and bring them back? Which may or may not be possible, but it would be nice if it is.

Some questions-

1a. Will these be killable/destroyable?

1b. Does this mean it will be possible to drive them to extinction either on purpose or accidentally?

2. If yes to 1a, will they reproduce? Or rather have their own "boom events", I guess.

3a. Can these be domesticated as livestock?

3b. Can these be used as food resources? Assuming some sort of food resource exists in the game, given the greenhouse-like structures we have seen in images released so far.

------

One comment I would like to make though. Prior to Mariner 4's historic flyby, speculation regarding plant life on Mars was serious, but some made a bigger, more speculative leap and said that the existence of plants meant animals must automatically exist to consume them. This was regarded as silly and thus I don't think plant life on Lapat necessarily allows for the existence of animal life.

That's not to say we can't ask for it and hope for it though :)

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  • 4 weeks later...

@Nate Simpson PLEASE add this. Even if it takes a few extra months to release, PLEASE add  actual living breathing moving animals on other planets. Like collidable animals, ones that you can hit and kill with rockets. There should be docile and hostile animals. Hostiles can kill your kerbals if they get angry, and docile won't harm unless they are attacked. I also like the idea of being able to forage food on other planets, like berries and water purification stations in lakes and oceans.

And also maybe hunting. Like hunting fish in the water and land creatures.

Give the Kerbals  GUNS.

(and fishing rods)

Like Zelkova said, i'd love to see kerbals being able to have extraterrestrial farms, whether in space or on planets. Like, either they can take animals on Kerbin, Or bring in and domesticate alien creatures.

Yes, i'd like kerbin too to have animals. I really want it to be more alive, to encourage players to build bases in other places on kerbin.

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These ideas are wonderful and i cannot wait for part two. The devs NEED to do this.

All of Zelkova's ideas are wonderful, and if Lapat is the only world that they add alien life to, that would be okay. I'm just asking for the devteam to add creatures to planets.

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1 hour ago, siklidkid said:

There should be docile and hostile animals. Hostiles can kill your kerbals if they get angry, and docile won't harm unless they are attacked. I also like the idea of being able to forage food on other planets, like berries and water purification stations in lakes and oceans.

And also maybe hunting. Like hunting fish in the water and land creatures.

Give the Kerbals  GUNS.

I think harvesting resources from biological sources should only be from plants for Kerbals. In my head, they are grazers who supplement their digestion of nutrients with photosynthesis. I do want the wildlife to be able to interact negatively with the kerbals, but I don’t want predation. Things like strong forces while flying through Duffins or something annoying but nonlethal. I am in support of accommodating for people who want to use mechanics to attack things, but I don’t want any mechanics specifically designed for harm. 

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58 minutes ago, t_v said:

I think harvesting resources from biological sources should only be from plants for Kerbals. In my head, they are grazers who supplement their digestion of nutrients with photosynthesis. I do want the wildlife to be able to interact negatively with the kerbals, but I don’t want predation. Things like strong forces while flying through Duffins or something annoying but nonlethal. I am in support of accommodating for people who want to use mechanics to attack things, but I don’t want any mechanics specifically designed for harm. 

Yes, you have a good point. Kerbals should not hunt animals. But they should still FISH, Yes?

Maybe for scientific purposes, they can bring animals into their labs for studies. Without hurting them. That's a good idea!

Ok, no hunting. Are you atleast okay with Kerbals harvesting crops and foraging?

Edited by siklidkid
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6 hours ago, siklidkid said:

@Nate Simpson PLEASE add this. Even if it takes a few extra months to release, PLEASE add  actual living breathing moving animals on other planets. Like collidable animals, ones that you can hit and kill with rockets. There should be docile and hostile animals. Hostiles can kill your kerbals if they get angry, and docile won't harm unless they are attacked. I also like the idea of being able to forage food on other planets, like berries and water purification stations in lakes and oceans.

And also maybe hunting. Like hunting fish in the water and land creatures.

Give the Kerbals  GUNS.

(and fishing rods)

Like Zelkova said, i'd love to see kerbals being able to have extraterrestrial farms, whether in space or on planets. Like, either they can take animals on Kerbin, Or bring in and domesticate alien creatures.

Yes, i'd like kerbin too to have animals. I really want it to be more alive, to encourage players to build bases in other places on kerbin.

Bit overboard on the excitement there.

The priority for Intercept Games should be the base game stuff, everything that was already promised. Alien life should be DLC I say. 

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9 hours ago, siklidkid said:

Yes, you have a good point. Kerbals should not hunt animals. But they should still FISH, Yes?

Maybe for scientific purposes, they can bring animals into their labs for studies. Without hurting them. That's a good idea!

Ok, no hunting. Are you atleast okay with Kerbals harvesting crops and foraging?

Sure, I am ambivalent on interactions as long as they don’t involve predation, but the real question is what would fit into the stock experience, not my personal preference. I was merely using my personal preference in the previous post to acknowledge the bias that I have in making these statements. 

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19 minutes ago, t_v said:

Sure, I am ambivalent on interactions as long as they don’t involve predation, but the real question is what would fit into the stock experience, not my personal preference. I was merely using my personal preference in the previous post to acknowledge the bias that I have in making these statements. 

9 hours ago, siklidkid said:

Yes, you have a good point. Kerbals should not hunt animals. But they should still FISH, Yes?

Maybe for scientific purposes, they can bring animals into their labs for studies. Without hurting them. That's a good idea!

Ok, no hunting. Are you atleast okay with Kerbals harvesting crops and foraging?

well, it also depends on what kind of species the Kerbal are, some say they are dust, because when they crash too quickly they disappear in a cloud of smoke. there are those who say they are plants, even I thought so, then in a video you can clearly see greenhouses with vegetables inside, and I have never seen plants eat other plants, so I am still confused about the type of species to which the Kerbal belong , maybe they are simply vegetarians ...

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7 hours ago, intelliCom said:

Bit overboard on the excitement there.

The priority for Intercept Games should be the base game stuff, everything that was already promised. Alien life should be DLC I say. 

+1, insofar as alien life might be something not everyone would like to have.

There is a precedent for this with the addition of more exotic surface features solely via the Breaking Ground DLC.

To be clear though, this sort of addition (alien fauna) via a DLC is merely a good option for the devs (and maybe wider player base as a whole) to add it. I personally would like to see it no matter how it is implemented :D

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3 hours ago, Laxez said:

I have never seen plants eat other plants,

Venus flytraps. Maybe kerbals are evolved flytraps in an alternate universe where they ate all the humans and evolved and took over kerbin. That's why kerbin looks so similar to earth, its 100 mln years in the future

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1 hour ago, siklidkid said:

Venus flytraps. Maybe kerbals are evolved flytraps in an alternate universe where they ate all the humans and evolved and took over kerbin. That's why kerbin looks so similar to earth, its 100 mln years in the future

NO!

However we do need this guys speculative biology on Lapat.

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