In Outer Wilds, the player can enter the Ash Twin Project and finds themselves in a rotating ring.

There is a switch on the ring that is marked "Artificial gravity" that stops the disk rotating. As far as I know, the artificial gravity is indeed the only reason the ring rotates.

However, everywhere else in the solar system, the Nomai used a special flooring type and crystals to create artificial gravity. Why is the Ash Twin Project different?


4 Answers 4


Maybe the Ash Twin Project was started by the Nomai of the Ember Twin (since they were closer than the ones in Brittle Hollow), and I don't remember any platform of gravity in Ember Twin, they only knew the rotation method you mentioned and they applied it inside the Project.

I think the Nomai in Ember Twin didn't know about the gravity platform technology, the rotational method was the way to go, and since it was started with the rotational technology it wasn't interesting to change the mechanism at all since it was working that way. I'm sure they debated the idea.

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    Interesting observation about the Ember Twin doesn't feature gravity pads. They definitely did meet before the Ash Twin Project construction though, but given your observation it's not unreasonable to assume some Nomai did not like he gravity pads and felt they were not suitable for the highly safety critical Ash Twin Project - you don't want the warp core to be smashed just before a supernova...
    – Sanchises
    Jul 17, 2020 at 11:46
  • Yeah, you are right, they met before the start of the Ash Twin Project. I'll edit my answer to clarify that part. As a side note, in the gravity pads, if you jump too much you lose the gravity acceleration provided by them, I don't know if it happens in the Ash Twin Project rotational thing too, I have to revisit it.
    – Joserbala
    Jul 18, 2020 at 12:50
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    No if you jump you will get back to the platform although not necessarily in the same place. If you run against the rotational motion though you can become weightless.
    – Sanchises
    Jul 18, 2020 at 12:56
  • Oh, so it is safer than the gravity pads that way too, thanks for clarifying!
    – Joserbala
    Jul 18, 2020 at 13:04

Neither the gravity crystals nor the special flooring are capable of being toggled off and on without being physically destroyed (at least, nowhere else in the game do we see this capability).

A toggleable floor at this location makes sense from both lore perspective - the Nomai wanted an easy way to access the reactor - and from a gameplay perspective - to allow the reactor to be in the precise center around an "interesting" area, while still allowing easy access to it.

But honestly, I think the main reason is a game development desire to generate a mysterious backdrop for when you glimpse into the Ash Twin Project from outside, and having a moving background helps that mystery. For the same reason I think the core of Timber Hearth - and consequently, the ATP - was designed to have a star-like appearance, not only for uniqueness but for generating the backdrop.


The Ash twin project is in the core of ash twin. It's just an idea, but maybe a new kind of artificial gravity was needed to counteract such a strong central force.


I have an idea that seems more logical now. The ash twin is inside a core of rock that was designed to withstand a supernova. While it does manage to do this, it would get very hot inside the core. Perhaps the gravity crystal floors would melt under this temperature, and something less sophisticated was needed to create the gravity. The main flaw in this theory, is that I don't believe anyone was meant to be inside the core during the supernova, but the nomai were obsessed with science, and the molten chrystals could possibly damage or destroy one of the masks, which would be a terrible failure, or if something on the chrystals was released due to their melting it could float and damage something. Either way, if the crystals melted the Nomai would probably have gone with centrifugal gravity just because it would be "better" in a way.


The "conventional" way of generating some kind of "artificial gravity" (any kind of force that is perceived as pushing you down on the ground of some space station or whatever) in a science-fiction setting often is huge rotating rings, where the centrifugal force you would experience in a rotating reference frame pushes you away from the point the ring is rotating around, and thus pushing you on the ground of the ring-like structure.

For example in '2001: A Space Odyssey', there also is a station that consists of two huge rings.

I never played Outer Wilds myself, but this wiki article says that "The surface of the platform is made entirely of gravity pads, ensuring that the player does not fall off.". So that would mean, that it's actually the same technology the Nomai used elsewhere.

Which in turn means, I can't actually give you a game-specific answer, only the general, "out-of-universe" answer how a rotating ring would "create" something you would perceive as gravity when standing in the ring with your head pointing inwards and you feet pointing outwards.

The idea of a spinning ring acting as some kind of centrifuge is also illustrated really well in this video by the YouTube channel "Real Engineering".

  • 1
    I think you forgot a part of your answer (I'm thinking '2001: A Space Odyssey' :)
    – Joachim
    Mar 4, 2020 at 18:22
  • lol, you're right, I was trying to think of a good example, but then just pressed reply too soon, thanks for pointing that out.. (and you're right, that indeed was the example i thought of)
    – th0bse
    Mar 4, 2020 at 18:25
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    This does not actually answer my question. I'm aware of centrifugal force, but I was asking why they used centrifugal force here but artificial gravity everywhere else. Note that the quote you mention is incorrect and has since been removed from the article.
    – Sanchises
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:00
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    Sorry, it's indeed there, overlooked a section. It's still very much incorrect, though, I can assure you there are no gravity pads, it's all centrifugal.
    – Sanchises
    Mar 4, 2020 at 19:45
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    I can also, having just visited the Ash Twin Project for the first time, confirm that the platform is not the same gravity material that appears in the rest of the game. The tiling looks similar, sure, but the tiles that actually have gravity have a distinct glowing appearance that is not the case at Ash Twin Project.
    – Unionhawk
    Mar 5, 2020 at 5:10

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