The Mech Touch Chapter 1113
1111 Ves The Artis
A lot of time went by as Ves and Professor Ventag iterated on the Aurora Titan design. After the second prototype followed a third and a fourth prototype. Each subsequent tests revealed fewer flaws and inconsistencies. All the major flaws had been worked away, and most of the newer problems that popped up emerged in response to earlier solutions.
Along the way, Ves also adjusted the Aurora Titan's aesthetics in order to make it look more appealing. The mech's likeness began to look more like its namesake. It looked like a large and bulky titanic sculpture with a modest amount of muscle definition. The mech resembled an ancient marble statue, but Ves swapped the humanoid head with an exobeast head on a whim.
That last change perplexed Professor Ventag a bit.
"The Aurora Titan is very much a humanoid mech. Why would you change it to a dinosaur head, Ves?"
"Since every test pilot who interfaced with the prototypes describe that they feel like they are piloting an exobeast, why not play around with it?" Ves replied over the comm. "Both you and I know that appearances matter. A humanoid head is so ubiquitous that it doesn't convey any particular meaning. The lizard head on the other hand will make the Aurora Titan a much more interesting visual spectacle. It stands out even more from the crowd of standard humanoid space knight designs."
The professor still looked like he disapproved. "The Aurora Titan's intrusive aesthetic features are too bold and in your face. I know from your previous works that you have a flair for adding an artistic touch to your mech, but the muscle definition that you've added to the mech will increase the cost and demand more skill to make the armor plating. This complex-looking lizard head is much more troublesome to produce than a standard humanoid head."
"Only the gold label edition of the Aurora Titan will feature all of these frills." Ves retorted. "The extra care and attention put into the aesthetics of its top-shelf model will make buyers more happy with spending tens of millions more credits on what is essentially the same mech. I've also worked on simplifying the artistic elements on the bronze and silver label editions to make them more suitable for mass production. The crystal tech I incorporated in them is also weaker but simpler to reproduce."
The three-tiered mech model scheme of the LMC somewhat clashed with NORA Consolidated's own approach. While Ves favored an artistic touch if he could get away with it, Professor Ventag generally valued form over function. The Senior preferred to design simple and clean-looking designs that were easy to fabricate and easy to repair.
The two argued over this issue for a while but Ves held his ground despite going against the will of a Senior. Since the Aurora Titan was pretty much his brainchild, Ves eventually got his way.
The professor dismissively waved his hand. "Fine. I'll indulge you on this matter. I do have to admit that your art does look appealing in some sense. This will be a benefit to our marketing campaigns even if you don't plan on selling a large number of gold label mechs."
The gold label mechs often times became the public face for the lesser editions even though there weren't that many out there in the wild. This happened with the Blackbeaks and the Crystal Lords. Their rarity turned them into genuine collector's items in some circles.
Ves did take the liberty of adding one particular aesthetic feature to every edition of the Aurora Titan.
He first scoured through NORA Consolidated's expansive library of licenses but failed to find what he needed.
He then browsed the MTA's library of endless component licenses and found the perfect component the job.
The Rescue Particle Generator was a small and energy-efficient component that emitted long-lasting glowing particles. As its name suggested, it was meant to be employed as a signal flare for stranded mechs and shuttles who were waylaid in deep space.
Unlike the Festive Cloud Generator, it did not require a source of fluid to function. It worked on both on land and in space and only increased the energy consumption of the Aurora Titan by a negligible amount. It was also small and flexible in its employment.
Ves added the emitters of the Rescue Particle Generator on the rear of the Aurora Titan design. The particles emitted from this addition not only blended in with the glow emanating from the flight system, but they also left behind a persistent trail in space that looked fantastic when the Aurora Titan was on the move.
Of course, Ves took into account that not every outfit or mech pilot wanted to paint a glowing golden stripe of its passage through space. There was no reason for the mech to puff itself up during routine patrols.
Aside from deactivating the Rescue Particle Generator, owners could also opt to remove them entirely without affecting the structural integrity of the mech.
"Hopefully, not a lot of people will choose this option."
The best part about the Rescue Particle Generator was that its function was so useless in raising the functional battle performance of a mech that its license was dirt cheap. It hardly impacted his bank account at all to license it for ten years, though he did contemplate on licensing it on a perpetual basis instead.
"With the knowledge I possess, it shouldn't be impossible for me to design my own gadget one day." He judged.
A perpetual license was many times more expensive than a standard ten-year license. Ves figured that within this span of time, he would surely be able to come up with something that provided even more visual flair than a component meant simply to put up a colored light to attract rescue.
Perhaps distracting himself with these visual aspects may not be entirely to the benefit of the actual design. However, both his design philosophy and Qilanxo's spiritual fragment approved of his attempts to beautify the mech. It turned the Aurora Titan into a much more interesting mech that distinguished itself further from the concept of mechs as disposable commodities.
"A mech that costs 100 million credits or more to buy ought to represent more than function."
While Ves admitted that form over function or simplicity to the point of minimalism each had their good points, that was simply not his design style.
"Functionalism and minimalism devolves the identity of a mech into its base role to its extreme. The company brand matters plays a greater role in how the mech is seen that its individual merits."
Some mech companies built up a very strong brand name and reputation for quality. They published simple-looking mechs with a unified aesthetic design that all leaned towards simplicity. Their designs were also part of the same product family, so they worked particularly well with each other.
All of this resulted in a trend whereby some outfits fielded an entire force of uniform-looking mechs! Actually encountering such a mech force was quite a sight!
In general, most mech designers didn't bother all that much with the visual design of their mechs. The general trend of mechs was to treat them as functional war machines. Mech designers therefore tended to lean towards simplicity and leave aside any unnecessary visual elements that might negatively impact the performance of their mech designs.
Ves actively fought against this trend. Why couldn't mechs be art?
"Even if mech designers don't actively work on the aesthetics of their mechs, they are still engaging in art."
The most important factor to take into account to Ves was that mech design involved both art and science. In fact, the profession blended the two into an intermingled whole. The science part affected the parameters of the mech while the art part shaped people's perception of the mech.
Many people and even mech designers often underestimated the impact of perception to the performance of the mech. Ves believed that mech pilots would treat their mechs like crap if they looked like garbage. On the other hand, if their mechs looked classy and expensive, then the mech pilots would never treat them like crap!
While these were extreme examples, mechs that looked boring or generic would not arouse any specific feelings to the mech pilot. This was a wasted opportunity to shape their perception and therefore the way they treated their mechs.
"If mechs are bots, then their appearances don't matter. The AIs that control them won't perform any differently whether machine looks like a rust bucket or a sculpture come to life. Humans are different. They are ruled by logic as well as emotions. It's the latter that is the key."
Due to his design philosophy, Ves spent a lot of effort in trying to master the ability to shape people's moods and emotion.
"They say a picture is worth a thousand words."
The true meaning of this phrase was that a picture was a great means of indoctrinating an audience without resorting to overt means!
"To put it more bluntly, art brainwashes people!"
This was a crazy statement to make, but as a mech designer Ves constantly tried to find a way to shape the perception of his target audience to his product.
Every artist tried to convey meaning in their works. Even if Ves visited an art gallery and taped a nutrient pack onto a wall, this work would still qualify as art! While the idea of affixing a nutrient pack onto a wall sounded ridiculous, it nonetheless sent out a specific message that affected the thoughts, emotions and moods of its audience!
Therefore, Ves very much thought that mech designers who focused more on the science and engineering aspects of their designs missed some of the points about their profession. Design encompassed both function and form. The latter deserved at least some attention, if only to prime the opinion of the market without resorting to expensive marketing campaigns!
Still, Ves was very cognizant that he could take this particular quirk of his and turn it into an obsession. His preoccupation with visuals frankly distracted him from paying more attention on the basic functionality of the design. Because he was very much willing to sacrifice a bit of performance if it made his mech look better, his products would never reach their full potential in terms of performance!
"So what? With my current design ability, my mechs already perform well enough to keep up with competing products."
While Ves did care about about the performance of his mechs, he did not fixate on improving it at all costs. Mech designers such as the Skull Architect were so sensitive towards inefficiencies that they would keep themselves preoccupied for weeks or months just to find a way to solve a minor issue.
During his time with the Whalers, the Flagrant Vandals and Lydia's Swordmaidens, Ves made an important observation that shaped his perspective on mech design. While many people tended to nitpick over the technical specifications of a mech, hardly any mech pilot ever managed to reach the upper limit of what their machines were capable of! What a mech could do in theory and in practice were very different!
Again, the example of the Skull Architect came to mind. His mechs were such impressive high-performing machines that one would think that his products would dominate the battlefield. The reality was very much different, especially in a very poor environment like the frontier.
Only aberrantly-skilled mech pilots, expert candidates and expert pilots hit or surpassed the limits of their mechs. The overwhelming majority of mech pilots always performed significantly worse than the capabilities of their mechs implied.
Therefore, rather than wrack his brains on maximizing the theoretical performance of his mechs, Ves would rather attempt to increase the average performance of the mech pilots that used his products.
"This approach is central to my design philosophy."
Shaping opinions and brainwashing his mech pilots through a mix of spiritual and visual design were very underappreciated aspects in modern-day mech design.
Any product or work of art that involved some design aspects always conveyed a meaning.
Ves just recognized this fact and weaponized it in order to advance the goals set by his design philosophy.
"Let's not kid myself. The biggest reason why I bother so much with visual design is because it will help me sell more mechs!"