During the lifetime of this blog, I’m pretty sure I’ve blabbed about the so-called “Science-Fiction Troopers” phenomena for a while now. Its enduring status throughout the decades reached a fever pitch with (at the time of this writing) the release of videogames based on original properties like Halo, Killzone, Starcraft, Doom, Mass Effect, Armies of the Southern Cross, Gears of War, Quake, Crysis and Unreal, and popular licensed franchises like Starwars (Republic Commando, Dark Troopers), Battletech (Elementals) and Warhammer 40k.

I always liked the idea of the “Science-Fiction Troopers” and its cousin, the Space Marines. Wikipedia describes these cowboys (and girls) as “…fictional soldiers that operate in outer space. Space marines are common in military science fiction-themed action movies and action games. Historical marines fulfil amphibious roles: ship defence, landing parties, and general high-mobility deployments. By extension, space marines defend spaceships, land on planets and satellites, and deployments that require rapid deployment throughout space.”

My thoughts:
Anybody who knows his or her science fiction knows all this crap. But since I have an almost nonexistent audience, I am under the belief that all this redundant data is for my viewing pleasure only (*rolls eyes* - Void™). Anyway, to fully understand these space jockeys, I’ll have to consult with good ol’ Wikipedia again.
“Heinlein's Starship Troopers is considered the defining work for the concept; for example, the actors playing the Colonial Marines in Aliens were required to read Starship Troopers as part of their training prior to filming.”
My thoughts:
I guess that’s my cue to pick up that Heinlein classic. I’ve seen it just sittin’ on that damn shelf, along with that ‘Ender’ series of books I also promised on reading. Or maybe even that Warhammer 40k ‘Horus Heresy’ series of books. At the time of this writing, I’ve only read a bit of Frank Herbert’s Dune series. I’m currently wondering whether I should discontinue reading the Starwars: New Jedi Order series of books… But damnit! As old and un-Starwars-like as this series is, I can’t seem to put em’ down! It’s just like that last time I got hooked on reading those (*gulp*) Starcraft novel tie-ins! I should be spending my time reading the classics!!

“Marines are usually equipped with a science fiction assault rifle, similar to a modern firearm only superior in some manner, or some form of fictional man portable laser rifle. Fireteams often include an automatic rifle, such as the M56 Smart Gun. Flamethrowers may be deployed against aliens with a susceptibility to fire. Sniper rifles are seen more rarely.

Clothing ranges from spacesuits and powered exoskeletons to battledress similar to that worn by contemporary armed forces.”

My thoughts:
So this is what I wanna talk about today. I want to design my own Science Fiction Trooper. Unfortunately, just about every interesting design / combo has been used up! With thousands of extremely talented artists trying to find their voice in this competitive art industry, it’s impossible to claim something as new anymore. Xavier Marquis stated that the secret was to take elements you loved about something, and craft it as your own. Leaving a personal mark is what’s going to set you apart (I’ve said this before, but its hard not to repeat myself all the time)

I’m going to try and study these types of designs I’ve encoutered in my short lifespan - There are only three types I've seen so far.

- Stocky, heavily stylized Marine Type -
Gears of War, Starcraft, Warhammer 40K, Unreal franchise, Fallout

- Lightly armored, heavily armed troopers -
Starship Troopers (Movie), Aliens, Halo, Troopers, Armies of the Southern Cross, Halo

- Inspired by World War 2 or other real-world conflicts -
Killzone, Resistance: Fall of Man

For this short post, I will be looking at concept images from game franchises such as Gears of War, Unreal, and Starwars, and trying to figure out what makes a these designs work… or I would just praise the designer to no end.

Gears of War

I don’t have a degree in Engineering or any of that formal education stuff, so I am often forced to rely on my limited knowledge with how things are put together. A big disadvantage here is that your audience may start questioning your designs if they end up looking too silly or fantastical. However, based on my experience from these games and stuff, these aren’t really the point. The point is to make things look good period. Really cool Trooper designs often have European influence or hints of Japanese visual culture, as we can see in some of these designs. (Especially in Unreal III)

Unreal Tournament III

A common reference professional designers use (maybe not only for this project) are Japanese Samurai armor, medieval knights and insects. The metallic cross-hatching patterns and sometimes organic-look of some of these designs leads me to wonder what other things would be great as reference material.

Elaborate body tattoos and exposed private parts have also been design mainstays for the Science Fiction marine. Unreal’s designs applied some of these conventions, though honestly, it’s all pretty tame compared to other properties I’ve seen. The ‘Flesh Factor’ or the amount of skin exposed isn’t high enough to make people wonder… “Why?”


The boys from Lucas provided some visually interesting twists with the regular Stormtrooper and Clonetrooper. It’s great how the expanded color palette has allowed designers to transform these classic designs and come up with bold new coor schemes.

The addition of high-tech equipment, complex utility belts and ‘battered armor look’ definitely brings something new and exciting to the table. The days of super-sleek, almost dull designs are long gone.

And this ends another very interesting (at least to me, I don't know about you, Void) look at my favorite artistic fodder. Now, how do I apply these lessons?? Grrr! It's one thing to scrutinize someone's work, its an entirely different matter to step into their shoes and try it yourself! Ah, but that's the beauty of of this hobby/passion, because practice makes perfect! Har har har har! Shutting up.

Well, to close out this media-heavy topic, I think I'll... umm... How about... a space battle! I'd show a Space Marine cutscene thing, but I thought I'd rather have this old yet cool video on my humble blog.

It's... Starwars vs. Battlestar Galactica!


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. Cool blog, I love Military Science Fiction, especially the space marine armor and weapons. I have a little page with the same info over at: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=17573549448 feel free to post!


  3. ChrisK Says:
  4. Thanks for the link! I'll be sure to check it out. I really should explore this topic a bit more...

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