3D Printing Techs in TerraTech 

By Jamie Finch, posted 14th April 2016

At Payload we're really excited about 3D printing. REALLY excited! We've always wanted TerraTech players to be able to have their own physical models of their favourite Techs, but until recently this wasn't really practical, as the cost of manufacturing individual small figures in plastic or metal was just too high. 

However, with the arrival of 3D printing, it's now possible to manufacture individual models in all sorts of different materials at a much lower cost. Perfect for TerraTech players! The challenge for us though is to find a way to integrate this into the game.

We want the whole process of printing a physical Tech model to be as easy as possible, from the moment the player chooses a Tech to print all the way through to the moment that their model arrives in the post. This process has a lot of different stages – creating the digital model for the 3D printer, manufacturing the model, taking payment, packing the model, shipping it to the customer and dealing with missed shipments, damaged products and so on.

We haven't finished this process yet, but we're well on the way, thanks to some help from our friends at GrabIt and their amazing 3D printing Tech!

At this stage we're still experimenting with out different materials, but here's our story so far.

We started by looking at different materials that were available for 3D printing at the moment.

Here are a few examples of the game's starter Tech.

We love the idea of printing in different colours, but looking at the different models at this stage we preferred the metal ones. They were much more solid and felt really good, and came in different colours and textures depending on the metal used. 

The next stage was to choose some player-created Techs to test out the whole process of printing and shipping directly to our players. So we came up with two separate competitions. One competition was to find the best Techs which represented each of our three existing corporations, GSO, GeoCorp and Venture. Our art director Jason chose one winning tech for each corporation: 

Reaperx1 with "GSO Shop N Go"

Tamorr with "Venture Racer V3"

Wotikins with "The Mighty"

The designers of each category winner were then set a new challenge – to build the best tech within the parameters we set for 3D printing, so their new design had to fit within 5x5x5 GSO single blocks. 

These were the runners up: 

...and our community chose the single overall winner during one of our Twitch streams: 

Congratulations to Reaperx1!

Our second competition was our regular Sumo challenge, when we play your special Sumo designed techs against each other in a Sumo arena live on our Twitch stream. 

Congratulations to Chrii_the_vieh for winning on that occasion, with Matador4lifeV9! 

The prize for Reaperx1 and Chrii_the_vieh was a metal 3D printed tech of their own design, within the same 5x5x5 GSO block size parameters. 

These were the designs that they created: 

These had to be specially processed by GrabIt, who we're doing experiments with.

The guys at GrabIt have created a Unity plugin that allows a bit of tinkering to be had on the Techs before they can be 3D printed. This process includes hollowing out the Tech, where possible to cut down on costs, and also strengthening any very small sections which are at risk of breaking (such as the GSO Machine gun mounting etc). 

These new files were then sent to Shapeways, the 3D printers. The end result was this: 

The Techs were then shipped directly to Reaperx1 and Chrii_the_vieh. 

So what next? Well... 

We take 3D printing TerraTech on the road!

We were joined by Joe from GrabIt at our London Games Festival & EGX Rezzed booths this month, where we grabbed the Tech snapshots that were being generated at the show and print them off for players to take home! Pretty cool right? 

We also showed off a number of other materials that we can print Techs in. 

Players that walked away from the shows with their 3D printed Techs were also emailed a link to the grand opening of the TerraTech section of the GrabIt website where anyone can view the prints in a 3D environment and have the ability to purchase them in their desired material. 

We've got plenty more we want to do with integrating 3D printing tech into the game so that more of you can get your hands on models of your favourite builds, so watch this space for more news soon. 

In the meantime, check out Jamie having a chat with 100xp at Rezzed about the wonders of 3D printing here: