I spent a lot of time today to put my planetary system generation rules through a first test. My rules set isn’t very original, it’s basically a compilation of other systems. Yeah – I wish I could create my very own, but I am simply no astrophysicist and I do not have the time to read a dozen books and interview experts.
I don’t need something hyper-realistic anyway, with any luck my solar systems will be superseded by real science anyway when we find out the composition of nearby star systems. I need something that is plausible – “playable realism”, so to speak.
My test case was Alpha Centauri. At first, I did a lot by hand, but then I decided that I might as well build a nice spreadsheet and use only that – since I will eventually have to design hundreds of solar systems I really do not want to do any manual calculations and ideally no manual table lookups at all.
Boy, is creating formulas in OpenOffice a hassle – you have to enter it all on one line!
But it was worth it. My current spreadsheet takes some basic values about the star, and a lot of dice-rolling (I wanted this manual, even if OpenOffice can do random values – I didn’t check for that – because this way I can fudge values when necessary). It produces orbits, world types, diameters, atmosphere and world types, and a few other derived values. It’s not quite complete but it’s an awesome start!
I didn’t do Alpha Centauri B yet – nor Proxima, for that matter – but Alpha Centauri A will have two habitable worlds; one true Garden world and one Glacier world on the outer edge of the Habitable Zone.
And yes, I fudged the results. When I read up on what we know about the real Alpha Centauri system, I found out that we failed to detect any gas giant worlds there.
So this will be my method when I start working on my solar systems – fudge results so I match roughly what we know to be true for real, and make sure the rest works for the fictional universe I am setting up.