The Yalkai were an interesting race to design ships for, as they’re not really what they appear when dealing with them in the game. Each species sees them as familiar looking – while a human might see a blue skinned attractive looking humans when dealing with them, a Tharrn will see a big, bipedal lizard – while in reality, they look vastly different from any of those races.
This is a species that pays a lot of attention to appearances, and their ships needed to have a regal, stylish look to them. The Centauri from Babylon 5 were a source of inspiration, with the purple colored hulls contrasting nicely against other species. The overall look I wanted to achieve was majestic, almost Napoleonic, with ships that have as much decoration as they do functional elements; arch-like structures that extend towards the front, a very large and visible species insignia, and gold looking decorative elements accentuating certain parts of the ship.
In a funny way, this species has some similarities to the Katraxi in terms of technology level; they’re not the most sophisticated race out there and go with what works, but with far more flair than the Katraxi have. Overall, I would gauge their technological prowess when it comes to ship building on a similar level to the Katraxi, which is what I would consider mid-tier (races such as the Synth, Selach and even the Humans are probably a bit more sophisticated with their approach to ship design, but they’re still above, say, the Tharrn).
For these reasons, even given the vast differences between the two species, building their ships at times felt like making symmetrical, regal and stylish looking Katraxi. Yalkai ships have a similar approach to safety as the Humans and Katraxi do, utilizing a similar system of escape pods placed around different areas of the ship for easy access. The bigger ships come with hangar bays, typically located at the bottom of the hulls, usually used to retrieve craft, while fighters are launched from fighter racks located on the sides of the hangar.
When it comes to weapon systems, the Yalkai rely more on quantity rather than size and power of any single weapon, though the big ships like battleships and above do carry some big guns; unlike the Humans, which almost always rely on a main spinal mount gun of great power, the Yalkai have multiple smaller weapon systems scattered around the hull which are capable of covering large firing arcs. Of course, players in the game will have the option to arm these ships as they see fit, but we need to take these thoughts into account when designing these ships in order to create unique looking designs that have a consistent methodology to them.
Yalkai engine design is simple but efficient; I opted for separate large engine pods rather than slit in engines, in order to facilitate that less sophisticated yet functional appearance.
Another function of the regal look is a relatively high amount of windows, especially on larger ships, always placed in their small indents to make it clear the ship still carries a decent amount of armor. Overall, I can say I really enjoyed designing this specie’s fleet, and I hope these ships play a hand in inspiring players to try playing as Yalkai.