Stellaris Dev Diary #188: Necroid Characters & the Art process

Stellaris Dev Diary #188: Necroid Characters & the Art process

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Pale Blue

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Life doesn't even, strictly speaking, have to be carbon-based everywhere (though it is the most convenient element for it in a far wider range of settings than the others).
Carbon is likely, but I guess Silicium and Sulfur are similar enough to be the basis of life too.

Yes, and you need of both electricity and metallurgy to develop technology.
It is indeed very unlikely to impossible for a purely aquatic species to reach space faring technology. Neverless scientifically not possible had never stopped the devs from implementing something.
 
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Methone

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All you suggested was that they'd invent some sort of machinery that can interpret light for them, you still haven't explained how they operate those machines with their sonar sense.
???? They'd operate them with limbs. I don't understand what your question is supposed to be. They'd reach out and touch the machines.
But again that would need a whole biosphere on a planet to arise that never, ever in its whole evolutionary history develops sight
No, really, it would not. All you'd need is one species that does not develop sight, but does develop intelligence.
Not really. The fundamental stresses of evolution would be the same on every planet. In every environment that in any way resembles a terrestrial planet, light perception/vision would be an advantage.
Yes, it would. So what? That does nothing to preclude the ability for a sightless species to achieve intelligence.
Yeah and you know the abyssal layer of the ocean is a very unlikely place for a technologically advanced species to arise. And even there you have animals that can see. Anglerfish and things like that.
Anglerfish live near the 'top' of the abyssal layer. Go down to the geothermal vents and there is plenty of species with absolutely no eyesight at all. And, again 'unlikely' is not the same as 'it's impossible, they'd have to be uplifted', and the latter is the only thing I'm arguing against.
Your "examples" are pathetic.
He says, not explaining once how.
An ordered universe, where life evolved following the same set of rules everywhere still makes far more sense than a "free for all" universe with different set of rules for each planet
I am going to make this as absolutely clear as I possibly can, and if you STILL cannot wrap your head around it, that's on you: "The already existing set of rules DO allow for intelligent life without eyesight." You've not given a SINGLE example - at least that I did not shoot down with ease - as to why this is not the case. Give us the how and why. What would make it impossible? Why would that make it impossible? Why are my 'it would be possible, just XYZ' 'pathetic'? Put your money where your mouth is or kindly shut it.
Yes, and you need of both electricity and metallurgy to develop technology.
Neither of which are impossible without sight. Oh, what's that I hear you typing? "Yes, it is impossible"? Well then kindly tell us how. If you can.
 
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grommile

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Neither of which are impossible without sight.
by all means, explain how a society without sight might develop the ability to refine and work metals to the point that they can establish an electrical civilization.

you're the one with the extraordinary claim.
 
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MrFreake_PDX

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by all means, explain how a society without sight might develop the ability to refine and work metals to the point that they can establish an electrical civilization.

you're the one with the extraordinary claim.
Maybe transmitting electricity isn't the only way to transmit work over long distances? How, is just supposition on my behalf, just as it's supposition on your behalf that its the only way
 
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Methone

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by all means, explain how a society without sight might develop the ability to refine and work metals to the point that they can establish an electrical civilization.

you're the one with the extraordinary claim.
What I'm so curious about is, "What exactly would make it impossible?" You don't need sight to detect electricity. Anyone who's ever been shocked can attest to that. Metals can be identified through other characteristics than just color - density, for one. The ability to create the furnaces and such is difficult, but it also becomes much less difficult if you suppose they have other senses than sight, like sonar.

This all seems extremely trivial to me, like you're asking "Explain how 1+1=2, you're the one with the extraordinary claim".
 
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D Inqu

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You are just saying that because you don't know a game called Space Empires V -- that game has some very interesting non-humanoid aliens. The best part? All they were done by S.C.Watson, one of the creators of the mods Alien Suns and Alien Suns: The Outer Rim . The aliens of the Space Empires V can be seen here (Attention: site in japanese).
I have played space empires in the past, but for all the game was just felt like a platform for a game that would be finished at some point in future. But true, they also had nice non-humanoid portraits.
 
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Primarch Victus

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He says, not explaining once how.

I am going to make this as absolutely clear as I possibly can, and if you STILL cannot wrap your head around it, that's on you: "The already existing set of rules DO allow for intelligent life without eyesight." You've not given a SINGLE example - at least that I did not shoot down with ease - as to why this is not the case. Give us the how and why. What would make it impossible? Why would that make it impossible? Why are my 'it would be possible, just XYZ' 'pathetic'? Put your money where your mouth is or kindly shut it.

Neither of which are impossible without sight. Oh, what's that I hear you typing? "Yes, it is impossible"? Well then kindly tell us how. If you can.
I don't need to explain to you something that would make plenty of sense if you used your goddamn brain for once! We humans created cameras based in our own eyes and in the eyes of all other species here on Earth. Now tell me, how in hell an eyeless alien species create a machine based in something they not even have and in concepts that they don't understand?

And no, I don't buy this BS about the eyeless aliens becoming eyeless bc of some tragedy in their past -- eyeless aliens and aquatic alien species would never be able to create advanced technology. PERIOD! Finally, I don't care with what the developers do! If I don't like of the concept behind and alien species(like eyeless aliens and undead), I won't use it.
 
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Pale Blue

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I don't need to explain to you something that would make plenty of sense if you used your goddamn brain for once! We humans created cameras based in our own eyes and in the eyes of all other species here on Earth. Now tell me, how in hell an eyeless alien species create a machine based in something they not even have and in concepts that they don't understand?

And no, I don't buy this BS about the eyeless aliens becoming eyeless bc of some tragedy in their past -- eyeless aliens and aquatic alien species would never be able to create advanced technology. PERIOD! Finally, I don't care with what the developers do! If I don't like of the concept behind and alien species(like eyeless aliens and undead), I won't use it.
Like humans were unable to create devices to detect radiation, electricity or gravitational waves?
Extremely unlikely isnt the same as impossible.
 
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Industrious81

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I try not to get in the habit of saying something can't happen if I don't understand it.

Slippery slope to get off of.
 
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Primarch Victus

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We aren't talking about detecting radiation, electricity or gravitationa waves. We are talking about an eyeless alien species being able to create advanced tech! You need COMPUTERS before starting developing rockets and starships -- and you cannot have computers without a way to have access its input!
 
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kwheeler

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Carbon is likely, but I guess Silicium and Sulfur are similar enough to be the basis of life too.


It is indeed very unlikely to impossible for a purely aquatic species to reach space faring technology. Neverless scientifically not possible had never stopped the devs from implementing something.
You could have an amphibian or land-dwelling species achieve space travel, but then the race for whatever reason decides to genengineer themselves into a new aquatic lifestyle after they've achieved the tech. Just saying.
 
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eagletrekkie

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We aren't talking about detecting radiation, electricity or gravitationa waves. We are talking about an eyeless alien species being able to create advanced tech! You need COMPUTERS before starting developing rockets and starships -- and you cannot have computers without a way to have access its input!
Blind people can use computers.
 
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DrFranknfurter

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I fear this thread is wildly off-topic, but it's a fascinating diversion so I'll bite:

Imagining the unknown, the impossible and the implausible and making it imaginable, possible or even plausible is the hallmark of good science fiction.

For the senses the important features are:
1. There must be some variability (e.g. light and dark)
2. There must be some advantage to identifying that variable (dark means fish between you and sun)
3. There must be a way to take advantage of that knowledge (move away from fish)
4. Sexual selection can allow rapid evolution and speciation (dark and light stripy fish are sexy)
5. Profit! You now have a working sense organ and can use it do whatever you need to do in life.

Light is an important variable on most of earth's surface - but not in caves, underground, in very thick smoke etc.
In places where the variable conveys less information eyesight is less useful and is lost (blind cave-crabs, fish, crickets etc. flatworms, moles etc.)

I'm curious about the conditions under which ANY sense could be lost, never evolve or conversely be the primary method a species interacts with the world, what would each of those scenarios look like for each sense (I didn't cover magnetism, gravitation, or psi and a few other fictional senses aliens could possess):

1.1 No Smell
Life evolving in a hard vacuum (any situation with few volatile molecules to capture) or perhaps if the information provided by free molecules is reduced - rapidly destroyed by intense radiation, heat, or quickly converted into other substances via catalytic activity, rapidly diluted below detection ranges by physical forces - currents that pull the air or water upwards rapidly like thermal vents or volatile organics rapidly condensing and falling away as raindrops.

It's quite easy to imagine living without smell as we don't use it exclusively, but it may mean the aliens would be very stinky (smell of waste products), or lack any scent (if lacking a detectable scent evolved first and reduced the usefulness of smell, causing the sense to be lost). I wonder what the consequences of that would be on all aspects of their culture and society - simple things like a difference in poetic allusions "come-up smelling of roses" could instead be "held the roses without a scratch". Lots of tiny differences but nothing major.

...but what about the opposite?

1.2 Smell as the primary sense
We have Star-nosed moles on earth
Comparing the mole's snout to vision, his research showed that whenever the mole touched potential food, it made a sudden movement to position the smallest rays, the twin rays number 11, over the object for repeated rapid touches. He reports: "The similarities with vision were striking. The star movements resembled saccadic eye movements—quick movements of the eyes from one focus point to another—in their speed and time-course. The two 11th rays are over-represented in primary somatosensory cortex relative to their size, just as the small visual fovea in primates—a small region in the center of the eye that yields the sharpest vision—is over-represented in primary visual cortex." He notes that some bats also have an auditory fovea for processing important echolocation frequencies, suggesting that "evolution has repeatedly come to the same solution for constructing a high-acuity sensory system: subdivide the sensory surface into a large, lower-resolution periphery for scanning a wide range of stimuli, and a small, high-resolution area that can be focused on objects of importance".
So it's plausible to imagine language, information and even interfaces that transfer information via smell. A simple book with scent markings arrayed in patterns could achieve a full 1:1 reproduction of all human written languages. This would be easy with the resolution provided by a star-shaped nose. But information as smells could also be layered, with additional layers just like we layer art with additional colours, only instead of a small number of primary colours scent would allow for layering thousand upon thousands of distinct scents. An entire novel on a single page, with all the information from each page being taken in simultaneously.

The star-nosed mole person may still need to read the page by smelling it a thousand times and concentrating on each odour in sequence, but perhaps there would be meanings, connections and emergent emotional connotations and inferences that could never be sufficiently translated into human languages. (e.g. you can smell the despair of a dying character on page 300 while you concentrate on the joy on page 1, or being distracted by the intensity of the orange scent on page 300 while you're concentrating on the smell of iron on page 1 like you're supposed to). The same scents could be bundled together in different patterns, e.g. "hiding on the second page" could mean that key information was separated out to keep it from being sensed in advance. Little details, fun to imagine.

2. No Taste
When there is little to no useful variation in flavour, so life growing in a large homogeneous soup. Or a lifeform that eats anything and has no need to reject anything before eating (an amorphous blob that expands outwards, with waste collected at its center... or a human that never encounters rotten or poisonous food, so lack of taste doesn't kill them). Every molecule still has a taste, but there's no benefit to knowing the homogeneous soup being filtered tastes of oranges.
It's hard to imagine the sequence that leads to never evolving Chemoreceptors in the first place. They're generally useful everywhere (even in your testes and anus, biology is weird sometimes). It is far easier to imagine taste being lost than never evolving. That's quite easy:
I conclude that modern humans might have been losing some sour and bitter receptor genes because of high-frequency LoF variants.
It's not hard to imagine a species completely losing taste as it has no survival benefit, just as humans are losing sour and bitter receptors now we aren't eating poisonous foods regularly. A lack of tase probably wouldn't actually make them any more alien.

2.2 Taste as a primary sense
Functionally I'd imagine it's not very different from the smell scenario (relying on Chemoreceptors). Except instead of sticking your nose on things you lick and chew on them instead, perhaps even relying on deeper internal senses to slowly peel away meaning as the outer layers are digested and the next layer tasted. A nose and a tongue aren't really that different. Though someone "digesting a good book" would mean something different.

3.1 No Sight
We have many animals on earth that lack sight, even humans fail to see any light with wavelengths under 400 or above 700 nanometers, despite there being a large amount of useful information at either end of the spectrum (Infra-red to detect camauflaged living creatures in the absence of external light sources, ultra-violet to better distinguish plants, animals and other objects). In any environment where the signal is no different to noise then sight would be useless - darkness, thick cloud and smoke, physical obstructions like dirt etc.
The main consequence of lacking sight is that information is no longer conveyed visually - no colouration to attract mates (cave species are white/clear/default fleshy colour). Or dark colours if the lack of sense is due to adaptations to darkness, dirt, mud and the creature still needs camouflage (bats and moles). Blind humans on Earth show how a tool-using space-age species could adapt to a lack of sight with senses of touch and hearing - the nature of the adaptations different depending on which other sense becomes the primary sense used.

3.2 Sight as a primary sense
I'd be tempted to class humans in this category (even though we're worse at seeing compared to birds and snakes for UV and IR respectively). Going further still would be creatures that sense much more extreme electromagnetic signals, and even create them. The first step is a natural source of radiowaves or microwaves that is useful to be able to detect or collect like visible light is on earth - perhaps an external electromagnetic radiation source that allows creatures to determine direction or to collect the energy, once the sense evolves it's easier to imagine the production of said radiation being a useful communication tool and proliferating and improving via sexual selection.

Such a race could perhaps be communicating by radio organically long before the invention of technology (a Crystal radio is surprisingly simple to make), even over interstellar distances. Imagine primitives listening and learning from the radio-chatter of nearby starships. Perhaps they could detect and create microwaves to kill prey. We already have electric eels that zap prey, it's not too hard to imagine an ossified organ functionally similar to a magnetron being hit by a jolt of electricity and creating a burst of microwaves. (We have electric eels that can generate large bursts of electricity underwater already).

It's wonderful to imagine what life would be like on their homeworld: The dawn chorus of birds being broadcast over the radio and picked up by every living thing nearby listening to that frequency. Migrations determined soundlessly, and simultaneously through the consensus of a million creatures communicating in bursts detectable from nearby planets. Lots of shielding of key equipment and facilities as the background noise of the technology of alien races is blinding to their senses.

4.1 No Hearing
Humans only have a narrow range of hearing 20Hz-20kHz(struggle with infrasound and ultrasound). But what animals on earth are truly deaf?
The prey of the sonar using creatures are all relatively deaf (not completely like the above author thought, but with about 90% less range than human hearing, so 400Hz to 1000Hz with a bit of infrasound hearing thrown in).
The important part is that creatures can live and thrive with limited hearing, possibly because more sensitive hearing (and the organs needed for it) would make them vulnerable to predators who can stun with sound and 'ping' off an air bladder to aid with hunting.

So if an octopus were to start using tools today and took the first steps to interstellar flight - it would struggle to hear anything you were saying and any reactions could only be determined by sticking electrodes into it... no dancing to music sadly. But otherwise nothing too debilitating. (Subtitles on music videos is easy to imagine, though it's far from easy to imagine the mind of an octopus - or what music videos such a mind would create).

4.2 Hearing as a primary sense organ.
Again we have bats and dolphins on earth that both use sound in ways that humans do not. Not merely to passively sense their environment, but actively in ways we cannot (sensing internal structure, hearing the texture of a surface) but even as a weapon (stunning fish and moths). It obviously presents no issues to everyday life to rely on hearing over sight.

I wonder if early writing by a bat philosopher would be written in the series of metal teeth on a primitive music box, or a dolphin making a recording using the surface of a spinning nautilus shell. Some technology is hard to imagine without air, but humans work in the sea and dolphins breathe air and do love jumping out of the water. It's not hard to imagine a blind species of dolphin creating any advanced technology we could, operating it with clicks and whistles with all the relevant information being provided either through mechanical movements and density changes the dolphin can perceive or directly as information dense soundwaves. (the lack of thumbs is a different issue, but flippers could easily be more hand-like, by that I mean flexible and opposable - please don't imagine dolphins with creepy little human hands... and I'm now sorry for creating that mental picture).

5.1 No Touch
This is a tricky one. If you google the subject touch is referred to as the "mother of all senses". It's challenging to imagine a situation where life could evolve without touch being important or critical to survival. Perhaps only if physical contact were very rare - life evolving slowly over aeons in the depths of space, where the distances between objects make collisions rare? Or perhaps the opposite, a highly turbulent environment where intense physical forces are being continuously and chaotically applied (inside erupting volcanoes) but even in the most turbulent environment there will be dead-zones where activity is calm enough for dust to settle (like dust on a fan). It is truly alien to imagine life and technology evolving without matter bumping into one another being important. Magnetism could take the role of touch? Pulling and repelling without physical contact, as could gravity or light (you can attract with gravity, push, heat and cool with light). But in all those cases you would still feel a 'tug' of movement and feeling that movement with a sense would be advantageous.

Perhaps a slow-growing crystalline entity in the depths of space could grow from the accumulation of stellar dust over millions of years, fed energy from nearby stars. Touch would be so rare and resources so few that evolving to feel it would be a waste of precious matter. Senses would focus on more pertinent variables - light, radiation, gravity. With few materials available and no hands to use tools or touch to feel tools, any advanced technology would, by necessity be organic in nature. (see sight for an idea of what powers they could possess).

But not all creatures would be unable to use technology for lack of touch. If early humans had a form of genetic Anaphia, or tactile anesthesia, then they would do everything that we can do... they'd just suffer from certain issues they would need to overcome with a heightening of their other senses. (people who have numbness can injure themselves more and those injuries can get infected). It's a little boring but such a species could look just like any other.

5.2 Touch as a primary sense.
Octopus! Again we have a parallel on Earth, a blind octopus would rely primarily on touch, its sense of hearing reduced, sight being less useful in depths or caves. Relying on touch to squeeze into tight spaces for safety and killing with touch (grasping suckers and a little beak). The spaceships would be interesting in design as the internal clearance need only be slightly larger than the beak of the octopus. So not very much wasted volume (Tiny ships that pack a big punch). We already have braille, keyboards, mice and joysticks as our primary interface with computers - certainly not a problem for an octopus.

I don't think it's impossible to imagine plausible situations for any sense to either never evolve, be lost, or be the primary means for a species to interact with the world (I just did). Trying to imagine the consequences of such things on spaceflight would be an interesting area of xenobiology, and maybe one day fiction on the subject will aid the search for extraterrestrial life. If the signals that life generates, or communicates with are vastly different based on primary senses, and the primary senses are different based on variables in the environment (like cave species lacking sight), then it follows that we may want to look for different detectable signs of extraterrestrial life based on the most likely habitable region of a star or even region of interstellar space.
 
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Primarch Victus

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You could have an amphibian or land-dwelling species achieve space travel, but then the race for whatever reason decides to genengineer themselves into a new aquatic lifestyle after they've achieved the tech. Just saying.
And why in hell they would do that?! Your theory don't make any sense.

Blind people can use computers.

I want to see blind people analizing a 3D model of a rocket to see if it's viable -- I think that they would be able to do it without vision.

I'm not accepting eyeless aliens or undead in my headcanon of the Stellaris universe -- this decision is final and irreversible! Now please, let's return to the topic, ok? I'm tired of this useless discussion -- my headcanon is mine and mine only and nobody has the right to disagree with that! NOBODY!
 
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Fulgrymm

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I'm not accepting eyeless aliens or undead in my headcanon of the Stellaris universe -- this decision is final and irreversible! Now please, let's return to the topic, ok? I'm tired of this useless discussion -- my headcanon is mine and mine only and nobody has the right to disagree with that! NOBODY!
It's an opinion, and like any opinion it most certainly CAN be disagreed with. MOST CERTAINLY!
 
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Gundabadguy

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Speakers would be completely useless for the creation of 3D images like the used in certain scientific activities, friend. Stop dreaming. If there is intellignet life out there, they will have eyes -- and those eyes will probably be equal or better than ours.
Speakers would certainly not be completely useless. If they can use sonar then speakers will describe the 3D image to them. It will show them what it looks like in their head without using descriptive language. Stop thinking in a limited way.
 
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Gundabadguy

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I'm not accepting eyeless aliens or undead in my headcanon of the Stellaris universe
Unfortunately, we are talking about real life aliens not Stellaris ones since they have undead aliens, psionic aliens, humanoid aliens and lots of unrealistic aliens. Realistic aliens are more likely to evolve in very different environments to ours and probably have certain senses missing like sight or hearing.
 

Primarch Victus

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It's an opinion, and like any opinion it most certainly CAN be disagreed with. MOST CERTAINLY!
It isn't an opinion. It's my HEADCANON! MY VERSION OF ONE OF MANY POSSIBLE UNIVERSES IN STELLARIS. It's not open to be disagreeded.
 
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Primarch Victus

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Unfortunately, we are talking about real life aliens not Stellaris ones since they have undead aliens, psionic aliens, humanoid aliens and lots of unrealistic aliens. Realistic aliens are more likely to evolve in very different environments to ours and probably have certain senses missing like sight or hearing.
No, aliens in real life won't have any missing senses -- they won't be blind or deaf. But their senses will much probably be more broad than ours. They will probably be able to see in infrared or ultraviolet and they will probably be able to hear infrasound and/or ultrasound.
 
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Primarch Victus

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Speakers would certainly not be completely useless. If they can use sonar then speakers will describe the 3D image to them. It will show them what it looks like in their head without using descriptive language. Stop thinking in a limited way.
Nature don't work by making mistakes. And giving intelligence to eyeless, blind aliens would be a mistake! So, unless you can proof it, THERE IS NO WAY AN EYELESS ALIEN CAN ANALIZE A 3D IMAGE. PERIOD!
 
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