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Behind the scenes - Ship Design

Work continues on PSI Dogs, though I don’t really have much to show off right now.

Most of what I’ve been doing this past week has just involved making new models and trying to get better with Blender. An abortive attempt was made to try and learn how to use 2.8, but for the life of me I still can’t figure out where anything is on the UI, so that’s just something I’m going to put off for the next few months. Or years. Probably years.

Anyway, I posted the new city screen for planet Vulkan as a screenshot but I’ve done another spaceship model and I thought it might be interesting to look at my design process and see some of the ship designs I rejected and how they’ve evolved over time.

This is the latest model I made. In the lore it’s a corvette, bigger and more heavily armed than a fighter while still remaining maneuverable and capable of a number of tactical roles but isn’t really capable of going toe to toe with larger ships on its own.

… And this is the first one I made. I’d like to think I’ve come a long way since then.

This render actually predates Bounty Angel by a few months. Originally I was going to make a game in RPGmaker MV and use a Mode 7 plugin I’d found. Instead of being a spaceship it would have been an airship, and you would have been a bounty hunter hunting down outlaws on a desert colony that had been separated from Earth somehow. So, kind of a cross between Trigun and Legend of the Galactic Heroes.

Making the model was as far as I ever got, though. I cannot properly describe how much I hate working in RPGmaker MV so I lost interest fairly quickly. I think this model is all that ever got finished.

After I finished up Bounty Angel I realized there was a lot I still wanted to do so I dug it up and fixed it as best I could.

I really like how it turned out.

I’ve always been a fan of the Eve Online machinima Clear Skies so it’s a lot bigger than the Millennium Falcon sized ship from Bounty Angel. To this day I still can’t make up my mind whether or not the conn is on top and the gunnery station is on the bottom or if it’s the other way around. That’s something you’re just going to need to have to headcanon, I guess.

After that was done, I started working on the fighter model. This is as far as I got...

… Before I promptly abandoned it.

I think I ran into what I like to call “Star Destroyer Syndrome.”

In the original trilogy the Empire had a big triangle ship, and a bigger triangle ship. In the Expanded Universe they’ve got:

A small ship that’s a triangle with solar wings:

Another small ship that’s a triangle with a radar dish:

A medium sized ship that’s a triangle with the front part missing:

Another medium sized ship that’s basically just a smaller Star Destroyer:

A big ship that’s a wider triangle:

A big ship that’s a long triangle:

Another big triangle:

A very big triangle:

Don’t get me wrong, they’re all really pretty to look at (especially the models from Essential Guide to Warfare, they’re all completely incredible) but I hate how so many of the modern designs for Imperial ships are basically “Well, it’s a Star Destroyer, except X”. There was just so much more more variation in design back in the 90’s and I really wish the Imperial Navy had kept up with that. Lancers, Carracks, Ton Falks, Dreadnoughts and Strike Class Cruisers all look great despite not being triangles.

So… I started over, and made this instead:

Much better.

You can tell it was made by the same culture but it’s not literally just the Archangel, but a fighter. It also looks a lot more maneuverable, which I like.

I tried to keep up this same design ethos with the corvette, too.

The sides are all curved instead of being octagons, there’s some negative space between the fore and aft modules, I added some external fuel tanks, and it’s got some extra engines on the bottom. Turret placement is similar as is the bridge structure, but I think it’s different enough to the point where I can get away with it.

I know this might ruin a bit of the magic but whenever I do ships, I always just model some basic geometric shapes, then add in greebles.

For the uninitiated greebles was a word coined by George Lucas for small details that don’t really serve any mechanical function. Making them can be kind of tedious, though, as you can see on the above image, my models would look completely horrible without them.

Anyway, I guess that about wraps up this blog post?

I’ve always been pretty good about taking criticism, so even you think everything I made was terrible and want to laugh at them, or disagreed vehemently with my ‘controversial opinions’ about Star Wars ship design, feel free to let me know.

Progress Report

"When the man with a 45 meets the man with a rifle, you said the man with a pistol is a dead man. Let's see if it's true."

I guess I should apologize to everyone in advance?

I'd always intended to update this game page more frequently, but then I had to start working six days a week, my insomnia really started acting up, and I re-started work on Dirge of Doningoth, once again trying to finish the cave dungeon that's thwarted me twice already.

That being said, I haven't been completely idle, and I've got a ground combat mini-game prototyped. Gunfights obviously won't happen as frequently as space combat will, but it's something I've been meaning to implement since Bounty Angel, and I think it'll help keep the gameplay from becoming monotonous.

It'll still probably need a few tweaks, and I'd like to add some more sound effects to it, at some point, but I'm really happy with how this turned out.

The sprites in the video were made by the supremely capable CrystalChameleon. She has an Artist For Hire thread on here, and I'd strongly recommend checking it out if you're ever trying to make a visual novel, or need some sprite work done for your game.

The music comes from Kevin Macleod. The tracks I used were:

The Complex
Neo Western
Full On
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