The 24 Hour Challenge

I put on a little challenge for myself over the weekend: design a scenery item, from start to finish, in 24 hours or less. The rules:

  1. The model cannot be just a simple box build.
  2. The model must go well with the other projects I’ve been working on.
  3. The model must cover at least one full 6×6″ tile.
  4. In order to successfully beat this challenge, the model must be ready to build before time runs out.

After 23 hours, plus change, this is what I ended up with:

Podtel 6. Helping space hookers spread space herpes since 2136.

It’s a seedy capsule motel belonging to the Podtel 6 chain. There are 24 efficiency-sized pods, each with its own balcony, stacked in 4 rings of 6 pods. The rings aren’t glued on, they slip over the core structure like doughnuts on a stick. I imagine each pod is basically just a single open space containing an airplane-style bathroom, a small closet space, a nasty bed that probably hasn’t been changed in weeks, a really tiny table with burn marks on it, a couple of mismatched chairs, and a slightly dented flatscreen on the wall for watching overpriced softcore porn and so forth.

It looks the way it does primarily because I didn’t want to do a boring box build, so any practicality or realism issues that I overlooked can be blamed on that. I’ve included a taxicab in the render for scale, so you can see how big the thing is. I also took a few minutes to accentuate the obnoxious glowing animated advertising screens and blinky lights on the thing in Photoshop.

It’s in PDF format and ready to build right now, the instruction graphics have been rendered, and there’s at least one “box art” style render for it. I didn’t think I was actually gonna beat the clock, but I surprised myself. I also don’t think I’m gonna give myself another one of those challenges for a while, because that was kind of intense.

I also haven’t decided what exactly to do with this thing yet. I’m gonna have to think about that some, since it wasn’t at the forefront of my mind during the challenge.

37 thoughts on “The 24 Hour Challenge

  1. Solospirit

    Thank You!! Finally a cardstock building that is not a box! 🙂
    This would look very much at home in some of those DRB picture series on fantastic architecture…Love it 🙂
    It kinda reminds me of some Gerry Anderson.. Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet type …buildings very retro future.
    I hope you find a way to release it at some point, I could see this fitting into a Titan or a First Light build even…Streets of Titan for sure….:)

  2. Solospirit

    …and congrats on making your challenge 🙂

    Looking at it again, the one thing that cries out about those pod walls…too clean. From your backstory i would have imagined them as being graffitied to death 🙂 I know its one pod duplicated, so all the textures are the same…but building it I would be tempted to hand draw, or cut and paste a bunch of graphics onto them 🙂

  3. Anonymous

    This would fit in to a Shadowrun/cyber-punk setting very well So I would buy it 😉
    Uther Dracus

  4. Tommygun

    Very nice.
    I have also seen pictures of retail store towers like that in Japan.
    You have just one tiny shop per level.
    Maybe 10 x 20 foot interiors, if that, with only stairs for 10 to 15 stories.

  5. zorg

    If you add two alternate pod designs (graffiti, vabdalism, dirt, Down-for-Maintenance, crime scene…), I'd buy it.

    Or have it released as a Titan Streets (Mini) Booster.

  6. Lasgunpacker

    Very nice! Effectively gives you the gritty near future feel. Now a few varient buildings, with shops, penthouses, and make them "stackable" for varying hieghts, and you really have something…

  7. Topo Solitario

    I really like the building design and the background concept… It's pretty close to futuristic hiperpopulated bladerunnerish megapolis from the SciFi we love…

    But… ah! it always have to be a "but"… It seems to eat a HUGE ammount of paper (20 to 25 PDF sheets per building?), The floors of each level seems to be two sided so… more paper! 😀
    Anyway my big "but" is about modular options and storage… one of the biggest conerns is about "what variations can I do" and the other, "and now it is built, how can I store it in less space?"

    About modular options I think it may lack of what players will ask for… that is, Stairs and walkways between buildings. You know, players expect to be able to fill the scenics with miniatures from top to bottom… there are some minor spaces between rooms… but not much, and a roof landing pad version is a must have.

    About Storage… I don't know how the piece will be torn appart… I really want to have a look at the the instructions or pages (I promise I won't do a screener this time, I swear!) XD But… It will be BIG to be stored… I can think of two ways to make it storage friendly… but I better wait to see the final takedown… 🙂

    Anyway… these are great, far from the boxy looking buildings, this totally beats Mayhem corporate macroboxes from WWG for my taste.

  8. Alexio

    Nice! I can totally see this in a sci-fi game, probably near public transport so I wouldn't need to make a big parking lot. I would buy this.

  9. emergencyoverride

    Dude that's pretty awesome! And in just 24 hours to boot. I'd buy and build it!

  10. glenn williams

    First, since it's a no-tell motel (ahem, that is, a hotel catering to the needs of mid-level business travelers), does it need the balconies? In function (but not appearance) it reminds me of several hotels my agency booked me into (and, yes, one WAS as bad as you describe–my admin aide had me outta there by dinner time).

    Can we have size and page count?

    I disagree with Topo as I see it as a standalone, so it doesn't need stairways and walkways–it's meant as a piece of scenery, right? and because of its clientele, I don't see the need for heli-ports.

    Since I'm designing a run-down brick, multi-story warehouse right now, I get the "for the love of God don't make me do more boxes!" Actually, this is a little reminiscent of the Hotel Angeleno where I stay when I'm getting tests at UCLA (although it's upscale).

    There are hotels like this around every big international airport (one block over from the Sheratons and Crowne Plazas). All you need is a bar next door with the sign "Live Nude Girls!" That one's real and just down the blvd from LAX.

    I can just see Major Kusanagi leaning against the wall, cradling her PDW while chatting with her Tachikoma.

  11. John C. Morrison

    "Thunderbirds or Captain Scarlet" oh gawd no. Scary puppets 🙁

    Awesome design. I can't wait to build it! This will fit right in with my part Mayhem part Titian city build. A real nice transition piece of scenery to help blend them together. The old Habitat Domes would not look to bad with it either.

  12. Werewolf8

    pretty slick man, I like it. I agree with glen about the balconies, but you could just stick heat/cool units and pipes and shiz out there.

  13. Zombie Ad

    Fantastic, Perfect antidote to the box-like buildings we see so much off. Does look like a lot do do but the final result would be worth it. Couldn't see people make too many multiples of them though!

  14. Christopher Roe

    Monty: Thanks!

    Solospirit: Yes, the walls are clean-ish right now, but that's because clean is the glue that holds together all the special bits visually. I'd rather start with a clean (or neutral) foundation and drop in the occasional special element. Otherwise, you'd see the exact same graffito, large grease blat, or what have you repeating every other tile. That makes my inner designer cry. That aside, it's easy to add special walls because the pod ring frames are in their own separate PDF.

    Uther Dracus: 🙂

    Tommygun: I like the idea of a pod mall! I'll have to add that to my notebook for another weekend.

    Zorg: This is just a quickie static build, so it doesn't have usable interiors. Crime scene tape and down for maintenance signs would not be visible from the outside, but graffiti would definitely be visible! (I did design it so I could do optional interiors for the pods at a later date.)

    I don't know about releasing it through WWG. The Brio and Interceptor have been completed and in a holding pattern for weeks now, and I'm not really interested in waiting forever to share a finished product with the world. So, my WWG projects are on hold until my completed models are actually released, then I'll see where things go from there.

    Lasgunpacker: I do eventually want to bang out a few more similarly novel papercraft buildings. My rule is "Not a box! Not a box! Not a box!"

    TOPO: Core structure itself is 8 pages, you only build one of those. Each full pod ring is 5 pages, you build 4 of those. So, 28 pages total. The balconies are each one piece and hold the pods together. The pods are 3 pieces so I could fit them in a "grid" that makes cutting them apart very fast and easy. You don't glue the pod rings on if you don't want to–you just slide them over the core structure.

    I didn't do stairs because they take too much time to build, and walkways don't make sense for this structure. There are balconies, and they're plenty big enough for a couple of snipers each.

    Heliports also don't make sense for this structure–I've never seen a heliport on a small seedy motel, and they just don't make sense for anything that doesn't have a compelling reason to park a chopper on the roof. You know, like hospitals or business towers.

    I also wasn't concerned about modularity or being collapsible. I wanted something that looked good and which would make me feel like I got more accomplished out of a limited amount of building time. I'm tired of boring boxes and collapsible/modular stuff that either requires twice the build effort or falls apart the second I look at it. I just wanna build something and see significant progress on my lunch break, and you can't beat static builds for that.

    Glenn: Well, the balconies are necessary for 3 reasons–first, they're what holds the pods together in rings. Second, they're a place to put snipers and a reason to put a chalk outline on the sidewalk so Space Briscoe and Space Green have something to investigate on their next shift. Third, the building is much more architecturally interesting with the balconies than without.

    They're also the token "interesting place to put a miniature" on this building, and you need those for anything you're putting on a game table. 😀

  15. Christopher Roe

    Zombie Ad: Yeah. My SF gaming doesn't take place in the Soviet Socialist Republicube of Boxonia, so my focus is 100% on "does this look good?" and "do I feel like I'm making awesome progress during every build session?", which are 2 things I don't feel with the current SF scenery offerings on the market.

    If I did it right, building this model should feel kind of like building an UD-41 dropship, except without all the small parts. Like, it only looks scary until you realize you've only been building for a short time and you're suddenly looking at a half completed model, and that "almost there" feeling motivates you to finish. That's better, to me, than a model that depends solely upon being a simple box for assembly speed.

    As for building more than one, that shouldn't be necessary. One unique landmark is plenty, and I want to do several different structures.

  16. Topo Solitario

    Don't get me wrong… I'm absolutely turned on with the look of the building 🙂 I don't like walkways to nowhere and starways to heave just to be able to "move" the mini instead of saying "four movement actions to go from one balcony to another one in the same or upper or lower levels"… I'm just talking about the feedback I have for my sparse scenery… that's all 😀

    Abut the "helipad", not an helipad at all… your line of vehicles are suposed to fly, civilian ones not much but the Blade Runner friendly police car and other services probably could actually fly some hundreds of meters high (just like the one in the movie), so having parking facilities is a way of accesing the bigger buildings as you can conglomerate them in pedestrian-only neighborhoods. You always can take a robo taxi from the roof of your "Hivetel" to your 15 hours a day job or to the closest space port (or orbital elevator).

    About building… I suppose the rings has to be glued to main structure (or risk a massive lead avalanche) but… one thing I probably do is to make the cubicles optional (in position), if you have only two cubicles opposite in one level (to achieve that you've to spread floor texture all around the ring) you can have a wide open balcony, with more space for a hand to hand combat (if you have to go up there to slash the sniper) and with many more variations to the basic scheme… you can even "cut" some balconies to achieve more differen styles and you can pring and hang a bunch of small bushes and hanging plants to give it a more habitable looking.

    I hope the experience selling the HL300 was good enough and you go for a selling ride with this one. If you do so, even if it is a 28 pages monster… you should include some PSD's too to allow people to drop in some graffitty or other motives.


  17. Christopher Roe

    Parking: In order to have integrated rooftop parking, you need a structure large enough to support it. As a quick and loose example: 24 rooms in this motel would require 24 parking spots just for guests, and I don't see 24 cars fitting on top of it. (I know you mentioned only police and emergency services, but it's just a handy example.)

    It makes more sense to do a separate, dedicated parking structure like the robo-stacking Volkswagen car tower. It would have one or more "helipad" things up top, and an elevator in the middle of each that brings cars down to be stacked.

    Modularity: I like your ideas, but they're not really appropriate for this set. It's *supposed* to be a spacey budget motel that everybody makes fun of because it's the hospitality industry's equivalent to Ryanair, and it's supposed to look exactly the way it does because that's what the Podtel 6 chain is renowned for–the iconic stacked-disk appearance of their pod motels. I kinda don't want to corrupt that by turning it into some weird modular Lego thing. I would very much rather have an unique and characterful set piece for this sort of thing, and save the flexible modularity for generic filler structures like apartment blocks or parking structures, which don't need an unique or iconic appearance.

    Editable PSDs: My concern is file size. Each PSD is 10-15MB in size. Using the HL 300 as an example, 40MB of its 50MB filesize is taken up by just 3 PSD files. I don't like that–that makes them too expensive to sell on services like E-Junkie or Pulley, which are really stingy with storage space and charge a lot for it.

    The pod rings: Oh, you don't have to glue those. You only glue the pods to the balconies, which makes a round doughnut-like pod ring. You just slide that over the spindle of the core structure, no glue required.

  18. Robby

    Oh hell yeah. I'm building one of those as soon as I can get my grubby mitts on it. Maybe two, or even three. (I could see a small complex of these.)

    And FWIW, I'm really digging the balcony. Those look very Fifth Element to me (just shorter).

  19. The Chimp Helmsman

    – Sometime a little badgering doesn't hurt: the 15mm sci-fi community is growing (me among them, because of you!), and while vehicles have been a flop at this scale (I assume because 15mm 'solid' vehicles are relatively inexpensive to start with), I think 15mm gamers are dying for building, especially the 'not-a-space-garden-shed-or-modular-boxes-and-tubes' variety…
    – Suggestion for future iteration on this concept: rotate each floor by X° to achieve a spiraling effect (like this
    – And yeah a robotic-flying-car-shelving-parking-unit sounds like a great very 20 minutes in the future look.

  20. scotherns

    I like this a *lot*! I'll add it to my ever growing build pile as soon as it's available 🙂

  21. Topo Solitario

    Huh! I'll have to take a look at how is it done… but the possibilities of non-glued doughnuts may make a couple of buildings a better to be stored thing… If you can glue only 3 of the 6 pods you can have bigger balconies and stack levels (once dismanteled from the main structure) two by two as you can turn one of them upside down and insert in the other… so…
    Your building is actually modular!!! 😀

    About the PSDs… the only parts you'll want to custom are the pods (only one sample page needed with the 2 or 3 pods that fit inside) and the top and bottom commercials (that you can other way cover with a custom overlay).
    So… not even a single pod PSD file? pretty please? pretty please with sugar on top?

    As others said… some pod with graffity, others extremely rusty, others (for bigger balconies) with VIP trademarks, some with fancy curtains… so many options to give them some variety… that a one sheet only customizable pods really worth the time and megas in the download 🙂

    Anyway… I stop writing and stealing your time… you have to focus on releasing the building!! 😀

  22. RRatliff

    Chris, find some way to put this on the Internet and I will buy it. I have a check coming this week. 🙂

  23. The Chimp Helmsman

    About editability: don't make the hole building editable, just make a pdf with the parts that are the most likely to be tagged: sides of the pod and ground floor (first floor in the US right?). Throw the top thingy in to allow people to come up with their own seedy hotel brands et voià.

  24. zorg

    Mel: I'm fine if you release the thing here – lets me put my fingers on it sooner 🙂

    About additional detail: I was thinking a police line "taped" over the front of an individual pod (the dark area pointing outwards). Just an example for added variety, of course (I understand this thing doesn't have interiors… yet).

  25. Christopher Roe

    The problem with the whole editable PSD idea for this model: big parts spread over multiple pages, a stucco/concrete base texture that doesn't recolor very well, and the signage is also more texturally complex than it looks. There's no "just one editable page", I'd have to do several PSDs just to make sure everything matches up.

    Like I warned you guys before when I was working on the Interceptor, I can't do editable versions for everything. It's just not always possible or practical. 🙁

  26. RRatliff

    It looks like this one would be best modified by printing your own signage and gluing it on. As for the graffiti, print it and tag it with a marker. If you want your gangs to use white "spray paint," try a crow quill pen and bleach, but be careful because it splotches really easily and soaks everywhere if you don't use a really light touch. This technique used to work really well on some kinds of ink and harder finished paper, though. I haven't tried it myself in a long time and I understand that the printer ink you buy now is different, so the only thing I can suggest is try it and see.

  27. Anonymous

    Count me as another one who will buy this as soon as it becomes available. It looks cool! (And I think that I can modify it myself if I need to.)


  28. The Chimp Helmsman

    Other building ideas:
    – Shopping mall, quonset huts with western fronting: car friendly north american shopping mall with big brand warehouse sized shops around big parking (landing) lot. Each shop is basicaly half a tube of let's say a corrugated structure (à la your collapsible shacks), with skylights, sun panels (à la your habitation dome) air conditioning vents to make texture interesting… The 'street' end is a rectangular western fronting available in a couple of Melverse big brands (gravcar retailers?) with big automatic slig-sliding doors, oversized brand logos… The fronting is a separate part and can be made editable without having to make the whole building so. Maybe not enough of a interesting shape to challenge you…
    – Suburban single family units: hex based houses with one of two floors topped with sloped roof with sun panels. Floors should be either separate parts or building should be avaible in different version iot allow clustering of building with all roofs sloped in same direction and doors still accessible. Something like this:

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