Rapier in the making

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Postby loki1950 » Tue Jul 17, 2007 7:50 am

Chuckstarchaser wrote
:
This is a bit OT, but, in all the Forstchen novels there are the "scoops"...
What's the scoop?
Pseudoscience crap,


Very old idea Bussard Ramjet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bussard_ramjet

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Postby chuck_starchaser » Tue Jul 17, 2007 8:34 am

@Loki1950: I know; I said "pseudoscience" in terms of the details. First and foremost creating a "field" shaped like a scoop and extending for miles; but creating a "field" that extends in that way is pure fantasy. Bussards (the theory anyways) are physical scoops, and extending for hundreds of miles. Secondly because even with scoops hundreds of miles in diameter you'd get minute quantities of hydrogen, and wouldn't impose much drag at all. Thirdly because Forstchen says these scoops allow the ships to fly as if they were inside an atmosphere... but even if we were able to produce enormous amounts of drag, it would help with decceleration, but not banking, like fighter planes do. But I wasn't trying to put down Forstchen in any way; he did the best he could to try and retcon WC's anti-science and shape it up into some kind of pseudo-science. Merely wanted to say "this is not based on any realism, but might be good for gameplay; as well as canonical, novels-wise".

EDIT: Also, as my friend Nate was pondering, what happens in a dogfight when these Bussard scoops from the various ships cross or clash with each other? :D

@MO: Thanks! That should work in many cases.
If you like the modelled gun but still want gun purchases to make a visual difference, you can do what PR does with the stiletto. Military and player owned are different models. The military ship that one encounters in the game has its guns modelled on, while if a player should ever get ahold of one, it uses a model with no guns modelled on (so it can show whatever guns he might choose to mount).

This is a good idea too; in that it limits the the performance impact by having most ships of that class have the guns built into the mesh, but for the player's own ship.

@Dilloh: I think I'm leaning towards leaving the big guns in as they are, though; a military ship is like custom-made; you shouldn't be able to change the big guns on it. The smaller, front guns maybe, but the big guns use military standards for the mounts. The big guns look very similar to the Hornet's guns, as Dual Joe was pointing out at the new board, and maybe what we could do is model this gun separately and make it a new gun in units.csv; but if it cannot be changed, it's better to leave it into the mesh, as making it a subobject incurrs a hefty overhead graphics-wise. On the other hand, making it a subobject would make it targetable and destructible, which are good things...

EDIT:
Actually, targettable subobjects in capital ships are good things, but targeting a gun in a fighter wouldn't make too much sense. Then again, if you get into a really rough fight and lose one of your guns, it would be nice to see the loss reflected in what you see outside the cockpit. Maybe the solution is what MO was suggesting: Having one mesh for the player's ship and another mesh for all other ships of that model. The player's ship uses sub-units; the others are a single object.

EDIT2:
What about missiles? They should be subobjects too, so they disappear as you spend them.

EDIT3:
Actually, the best solution would be, --but this would take a big hack on the engine-- to be able to specify a mesh using subunits for the top LOD, and a mesh with weapons and missiles built in for the second and lower LOD's.
And while we're at it, we could add the ability to specify different textures to the different LOD's. This would be good for two reasons:
  • The details of a higher LOD can be baked onto the normal map of a lower LOD, but not if the lower LOD uses the same (or a mipmap thereof) of the higher LOD's normal map. They need to be distinct normal maps; --one for each LOD; and each with its own mipmaps.
  • Ships that are at the other end of a system and take up less than a pixel on the screen should not force their full size textures and all mipmaps to have to occupy space in video RAM. With a per-LOD texture system, we'd provide, say, 64x64 textures for the lowest LOD and that's all the texture space they'd need to take until we get closer.

But, for this, LOD's of a mesh should be in separate bfxm files, I suppose.
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Postby Dilloh » Tue Jul 17, 2007 1:37 pm

what we could do is model this gun separately and make it a new gun in units.csv; but if it cannot be changed, it's better to leave it into the mesh, as making it a subobject incurrs a hefty overhead graphics-wise.
Yeah no prob... since the gun typo cannot be changed game-wise, you can also put it in as a hard piece of the ship mesh. The rest means just adding values.
On the other hand, making it a subobject would make it targetable and destructible, which are good things...
Maybe you could make this the main advantage of military guns. They are melted with the hull, if you want to take them out you need to destroy the whole ship. I mean they are fully armored and need to be disabled via the internal systems. Whereas customizable gun mounts are more receptive to damage: They are being feeded external, not armored.
Then again, if you get into a really rough fight and lose one of your guns, it would be nice to see the loss reflected in what you see outside the cockpit. Maybe the solution is what MO was suggesting: Having one mesh for the player's ship and another mesh for all other ships of that model. The player's ship uses sub-units; the others are a single object.
Like ships have damage textures, this must be possible for subobjects. All you'd need to do is "break away" a piece and leave some rusty pieces of metal there, maybe with a transparent background to show something is missing. You could give subobjects to AI ships too, just make sure the computer cannot target them on fighters, or make this possible for the most advanced radar only.
What about missiles? They should be subobjects too, so they disappear as you spend them.
You mean visually? Like on an airplane? Doesn't quite fit the launcher concept where you have tubes for that. On the other hand, it fits with the Priv intro where Talons fire the missiles mounted on the wing ends. Canonical error?
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Postby MamiyaOtaru » Tue Jul 17, 2007 2:06 pm

And while we're at it, we could add the ability to specify different textures to the different LOD's.

This is already possible FYI

chuck_starchaser wrote:Actually, the best solution would be, --but this would take a big hack on the engine-- to be able to specify a mesh using subunits for the top LOD, and a mesh with weapons and missiles built in for the second and lower LOD's.

This is obviously harder, since as you know LOD is controlled at the mesh level, not at the level of the whole unit (which can be made of several meshes). You could approximate this by having the guns' LOD be empty, while the ship's LOD includes some crude guns. Then you'd have to make sure the ship's LOD displayed before the guns' or else there'd be a short period where there were no guns to be seen.

Of course, the gun subunits would still be there (there'd just be nothing to draw), so it's pretty pointless. Might as well have the 4 polys or whatever for the gun LOD be attached to the gun mesh instead of the ship's.

This also would cause problems if you wanted to have destructible guns. Best IMHO to just deal with things as are and either have guns built in at all LOD levels, or as separate objects at all LOD levels (assuming you are modelling the guns in instead of using the standard gun meshes). But you can at least use lower res textures at those lower LOD levels :)
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Postby Zool » Tue Jul 17, 2007 3:56 pm

I was totally opposed to the milspec crap that was put into the mod, with "milspec" ships that were the same as regular ships but couldn't be upgraded. Why? Because there should be something to gain in exchange for the loss of upgradability. Those "milspec" ships didn't look milspec, didn't feel milspec, and they weren't milspec. But I'll take the loss of upgradeability any day, if you give me a REAL military craft, with real shields and real armor, and big MF guns that can take out 3 talons of one shot.
Now you're really talking, this is music to my ears.

So, whatever key we use for Shelton, I forget, could be used to toggle the scoops
There is no default key for the Shelton Slide.

Next is the back end; which is a mess right now; don't know what I'm doing there.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Jul 18, 2007 7:00 am

Thanks, Zool. Just added a hatch and some sensors...

Image

And doors for the landing gear:

Image

The back is starting to take shape; it doesn't agree with canon exactly, but details of the back are hard to make out, both in the ingame images and the blueprint, so I'm taking some liberties there.

Image

The square hole would be where chaff, flares and stuff are dispensed from, maybe... In any case, all experimental; I might change the back completely if it doesn't work out

MamiyaOtaru wrote:
And while we're at it, we could add the ability to specify different textures to the different LOD's.

This is already possible FYI

That's great news! Means we can use the lower LOD normal maps to bake higher LOD details. Probably, though, it doesn't cure the problem of having large, unused textures for distant ships occupying space in video ram, as probably all LOD's are loaded at once in video ram, which in turn force all the textures in; correct?

chuck_starchaser wrote:Actually, the best solution would be, --but this would take a big hack on the engine-- to be able to specify a mesh using subunits for the top LOD, and a mesh with weapons and missiles built in for the second and lower LOD's.

This is obviously harder, since as you know LOD is controlled at the mesh level, not at the level of the whole unit (which can be made of several meshes). You could approximate this by having the guns' LOD be empty, while the ship's LOD includes some crude guns. Then you'd have to make sure the ship's LOD displayed before the guns' or else there'd be a short period where there were no guns to be seen.

Of course, the gun subunits would still be there (there'd just be nothing to draw), so it's pretty pointless. Might as well have the 4 polys or whatever for the gun LOD be attached to the gun mesh instead of the ship's.

Right. Gottcha. There's an even greater reason keep things simple: If missiles had null second LOD's, they'd disappear in flight; so we'd have to treat guns and missiles differently, which doesn't sound too elegant to me.

This also would cause problems if you wanted to have destructible guns. Best IMHO to just deal with things as are and either have guns built in at all LOD levels, or as separate objects at all LOD levels (assuming you are modelling the guns in instead of using the standard gun meshes). But you can at least use lower res textures at those lower LOD levels :)

Yeah, I'm leaning more towards having subunits; the only problem being that then there'd be a horrific number of subunits around: in a scene with 50 ships having on average 4 guns and four missiles, the unit count would skyrocket to 450. So, I think the only solution for now is to have player buyable ships use subunits, and NPC versions of ships having guns and missiles in the mesh. But this doubles the amount of mesher work to do and complicates maintenance.

EDIT:
Bit of cleaning up at the back:

Image

And a more frontish view update:

Image

The slot on the leading edge of the front ailerons is canon: There's a few bright, red lights that go there.
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Postby Zool » Wed Jul 18, 2007 4:02 pm

I'm so lost trying to follow this .......what's LOD mean??????

How much more ego stroking do you want Chuck, you keep up this quality of work and you're going to have to redo ALL the ships.Oh and what's this word "retcon" I see you using, can't find it in my dictionary?
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Postby charlieg » Wed Jul 18, 2007 4:22 pm

LOD stands for Level of Detail. In real terms, an LOD is a version of a model with less detail so it is quicker to render. If the model is in the distance and only occupies a few pixels on-screen, you don't want to be inspecting a complicated mesh in order to work out the colour of those few pixels - so you have an LOD of your model with very little detail but just the core shape / colours. When done right, the player will notice no difference (when the ship is closer the high detail model is used) other than increased performance.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Wed Jul 18, 2007 8:12 pm

Sorry, I'm internetless at home; no dns; resetting cable modem won't do; came to an internet cafe to get through emails and stuff; but it's closing time.
Yeah, LOD's are like simpler and simplest versions of a mesh. You save them to wavefront .obj then pack them into the bfxm with mesher.exe.
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Postby z30 » Thu Jul 19, 2007 2:43 am

This is shaping up to be the best looking fighter in PU. With Zools weapon, equipment & shielding modifications restricted to milspec ships, the Rapier is going to kick major butt.

I don't think the Centurion at this point will be able to match it, which is as it should be. Civilian fighters should not be able military craft - whether Confed or Kilrathi.
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Thu Jul 19, 2007 4:59 am

Thanks; that plan sounds like music to my ears.
My internet is back; I guess the dns server at videotron was down.
No rapier updates; I'm in the middle of redoing the back.

Image

The right side is what I had; the left side is the new work in progress. The engines are hidden to make the work easier. Once I'm done I'll delete the right side of the ship and just mirror the left side.
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Postby Zool » Thu Jul 19, 2007 3:40 pm

z30 wrote:This is shaping up to be the best looking fighter in PU.
You got that right. Chuck are you planning on "fixing up" anymore ships?.....say the Raptor?
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Postby chuck_starchaser » Fri Jul 20, 2007 12:30 am

Thanks guys; no rocket science to it, tho, just hard work. Today I did nothing on it, as I was proofreading Dilloh's Troy script, for a break from modelling. Not sure about the urgency of the Raptor. I mean, between the Rapier, the Movie Rapier I also got, and Dual Joe's Hornet, we got enough 2650's era material for (2669) PU, I would think. Not that I don't want to do them all anyways, but I think base and ship interiors are a higher priority. Heck, we're going to need WC3 models also, like Arrows and Hellcats and Thunderbolts. Once the war is over, and it will be over pretty soon in PU, we get an explosion of military ships showing up at civilian areas. And then there's all the kat ships to do. Who knows, they might parade their cruisers around New Constantinople to celebrate Torgo Day every year.
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