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Design Points — On the topic of gravity

· 2 min read
Eric Buchholz

Many may wonder why I’ve chosen not to use gravity in my CelestialSky model. Gravity is, after all, one of the most fundamental forces in our universe that dictates the motion of objects. CelestialSky, at its core, is a system for defining the motion of celestial bodies, so it seems like gravity should play a role, right?

We often take for granted that the celestial systems we observe in reality are stable. These systems, which were likely once chaotic and disorderly, have stabilized over eons into what we now observe.

Gravity is defined as a function of mass and distance. Throw in velocity and now we have a formula for simulating a gravity-based celestial system. This could work, but it would require worldbuilders to “balance” their systems and run simulations to check that their moons won’t one day be flung from orbit, or crash into its parent planet. Gravity is very tough to plan for, as perturbations can gradually resonate over time and cause cataclysm.

There is also the issue of gravity having very few “knobs” for worldbuilders to play with. While there may be worldbuilders with meticulously calculated masses, distances, and velocities for their world’s celestial bodies, I’d wager that they are in the minority, and the vast majority of worldbuilders are more interested in defining their celestial bodies using more observable parameters with the assumption that their system is gravitically stable.

The decision to leave gravity out of the CelestialSky model is about giving worldbuilders the freedom to create celestial systems without getting bogged down by complex calculations and real-world constraints. By concentrating on the observable and visually engaging aspects of celestial bodies, we can encourage the development of varied and imaginative fictional worlds that reflect the true spirit of storytelling and worldbuilding.

My goal with CelestialSky is to help create believable fictional worlds, not ones that are constrained by the laws governing reality, and to that end, the lack of simulated gravity in the CelestialSky model isn't a hindrance, but rather an invitation to explore the endless possibilities of creativity.