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Archive for October, 2008

Vessels and Installations

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Since the last release in April, artists have been working on modeling, texturing and integrating new space crafts and installations into the Vega Strike game.

Bringing an asset such as a vessel up to the point where it is usable is a long and arduous task. It starts with the selection of an appropriate candidate from our recently reorganized 3D Models list. The artist must consider the model type, role, and specifically the faction to come up with an adequate concept proposal contemplating the architecture and texture of the model.

Early model concept

Once the concept is accepted, the modeling can commence. While small models can consist of a single mesh, larger or more complex models can be subdivided into several sub-meshes. In addition to the larger scale architecture, a good model will convey its dimensions by adding smaller features like doors, openings, pipes, ladders, cranes and other small scale features. This process is called greebling. After finishing the model, it needs to be unwrapped to provide the outline of the shapes for subsequent texturing, which is mostly done using a paint program like GIMP. Depending on the intended material in various model areas, the textures for color, specular, and glow are painted. Once the main model is finished, marker objects for docking ports, engine thruster exhausts, turrets, subunits, and blink lights must be positioned around the model. Additional meshes for shields, smaller levels of detail (LOD), and simplified collision meshes might be provided too, though it is not a must. After export of the meshes and markers, the unit is ready for integration into the game data.

Placement of thruster markers on the Archimedes model

The integration of a unit has for long been a very tedious and error prone process mastered only by few. With the advent of modding tools, in particular the Unit Converter, which will be discussed in a separate devblog, the integration promises to become merely a task of pointing the correct textures to corresponding meshes. After conversion of the meshes from Wavefront obj format to Vega Strike internal bfxm format, we need to provide a HUD image and tweak the multitude of unit stats, ranging from the unit scale factor to the item categories that a base offers for purchase.

My intention so far was to give you a short glance on the many tasks involved in getting a new unit into the game. Nevertheless, what you were probably hoping for, namely information on models added after the last release, is what I won’t let you wait longer for.

The Bell, a communication ship

An Andolian destroyer, the Kahan

In the space craft fleets of the major factions we have excellent contributions (the majority of which are from the shipyards of our talented modeler and texturer Fendorin where not mentioned otherwise, but also other artists noted besides the models):
* Archimedes
* Bell
* Ct1000, Ct2000, Ct3000 (by rivalin)
* Derivative (by Deus Siddis)
* Determinant (by Etheral walker and Nózmajner)
* Emu
* Jackal (by Oblivion)
* Kahan
* Knight
* Tridacna
* Xuanzong


Rlaan Xuanzong

We had also updates on already existing models in terms of improving the mesh and/or textures:
* Entourage
* H496
* Mk32
* Regret
* Vigilance

Vigilance wallpaper

Regret - Shmrn figther

Curiously, when starting to work on installations, I have come across one station, the Diplomatic Center (by Strangelet), that has been sitting in the data set probably for years already but never has been spawned. There are also three older contributions by Oblivion (who is now involved in Angels Fall First game development) that have been added:
* Uln Asteroid Refinery
* Uln Refinery
* Uln Commerce Center

Diplomatic Center

Uln Commerce Center

Fendorin was active constructing bases in Rlaan space, but not only. The new stations of this craftsmanship that a space faring traveler may encounter:
* Civilian Asteroid Shipyard
* Rlaan Commerce Center
* Rlaan Fighter Barracks
* Rlaan Medical
* Rlaan Mining Base
* Rlaan Star Fortress
* Shaper Bio-Adaptation Station

Rlaan Commerce Center

Rlaan Fighter Barracks

Civilian Asteroid Shipyard

Rlaan Star Fortress

Including new units into the game is not the only work that was done. We have upgraded most of the vessels HUD images to higher resolution and better quality and were careful to outfit the new additions with engine thruster exhausts, turrets, and blink lights.

Mechanist Built Mk32 Battle Cruiser with H496 shuttle flyby.

We will continue contributing (as we’ve still got some uncommitted models up the sleeves) and hope that you enjoy the work we have been putting into making the Vega Strike universe a richer experience.