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Custom Ships

Posted: Thu Nov 06, 2008 11:01 pm
by Sketchy
Here's a couple of custom ships I made. They both cost 116 pts so you can use them for mission 1.

Image Image

Downloads: ... ...

Polaris has great acceleration but poor turning - the reason being that I find a sudden change of speed better for avoiding missiles than turning sharply. It's not the easiest to get kills in, so it may take some getting used to.

Warthog is basically just very very durable, although it does have reasonable firepower too. I mostly use it on "major engagement" and "attack/defend planet" type missions where the Polaris is a little too fragile (I don't like to use expensive ships - makes thing too easy ;) )

Anyway, I also drew some little sprites of how I'd really like them to look, which brings me to my question - does anyone else think it would be better if Critical Mass used bitmap ship graphics rather than vectors?

Posted: Fri Nov 07, 2008 6:15 pm
by TheKangaroo
Those bitmaps you made look really great. Certainly would be nice to have them in game, but I see one or two problems with that. First being that it would be slightly trickier to get them to change colours according to which empire they are to be used for and second the polygons we use now allow for rather nice designs for all those of us who don't really draw too well.

Posted: Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:30 am
by Sketchy
I don't think recolouring for different fleets would be a problem. You just modify the hue/sat/lum map - like GTA1&2 did with the cars for example.
You could perhaps only replace a narrow band of hues - this would allow a ship to be made with some parts common between fleets. Another option would be to use a second monochrome "mask" image to determine the areas to be recoloured.
Alternatively, you use a 256 colour palette and reserve some to represent different shades of the fleet colour/engine/cockpit etc.
It really wouldn't be difficult anyway.

What would be *really* great is if you could have "deltas", allowing ships to sustain visible damage, again, like in the early GTA games.
The deltas would be front/left/right/rear (not corners like in GTA) and would be used when a given proportion of components are destroyed on that side.
Somewhere on these forums, somebody suggested that it was unrealistic for the player to be able to see exactly which components are damaged on an enemy ship. That's a fair point. Using deltas would not only look really cool, but would give the player a more realistic idea of how much damage they have inflicted on an enemy ship.

Re: Vectors being easier than rasters for less artistic people...
I'm not convinced that's true. I think most people could do better in paint than they could in critical mass's ship editor, although their vector ships might look *relatively* good because nodody else's look good either, I suppose.

There are huge communities of people modding sprites for all kinds of games, including GTA (at the time). Subspace:Continuum is another good example. I'm sure Critical Mass could attract a lot of attention too. Many of these people will start out just modifying existing designs - copy&pasting bits from different ships together. However, with practice, I think anyone would be able to create nice ships.

Wouldn't it be great?!

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:30 pm
by Legacy
I tend to favor the vector-based ship design. I see some of the advantages you speak of with using sprites, but none of them are compelling enough. I've seen some pretty wicked designs using the existing setup. What I would like to see, however, is the engine being adapted to handle more objects and thus larger battles.

Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:37 pm
by JoystickHero
Personally, for the graphics, I vote somewhere in the middle. We should be able to make them in triangles, but upload our own custom images if we want.

As for the ships themselves, my initial evaluations are good, but not perfect. I started a game with the Polaris, and put a Wasp, a Blackbird, and a Megadrone into the squad as well, on an "Attack Politician" mission. First thing I noticed was the massive acceleration. It's a very fast ship, but the shallow turning radius makes it hard to use. Also, the third missile launcher was a bit extraneous for me, but that's just because I'm a fan of the One-Two Punch type alternating fire, but that's just me.

It's a very good-looking ship, kudos for that. It could use a bit more radar, and it takes some time to get used to, but for what you're trying to accomplish, it's quite good.


Posted: Mon Nov 10, 2008 11:44 pm
by Sketchy
Allowing both vector *and* raster ship graphics would only work if you could edit the enemy ships - seeing both types on screen at the same time would look worse than all vector/all raster.

I actually wanted to make a little program to let you generate vector ships from bitmaps - each bitmap pixel would be made up from 2 triangles.
Unfortunately, I haven't been able to figure out that part of the .shp file structure. If anyone has any information that might be of use....;)

General advice for flying the Polaris:
* don't try and out-turn enemy ships - use "boom & zoom" tactics.

* fly at about 75% speed most of the time - this way you have the choice of braking or accelerating to get out of trouble (and you want to make the most of that 79 thrust rating).

* remember: more thrust = better braking aswell. Pretend you're Tom Cruise in TopGun - "hit the brakes and they'll fly right by" - this is extremely effective against Nightmares etc and lets you instantly turn defense into attack.

* the Polaris is quite stealthy, so you can slow down and maneuver behind enemy ships without being detected, and then accelerate sharply - you'll be able to close and fire off some missiles before they can react (and your missiles will already be up to speed making them hard to dogde).

* remember: you can always just fly away from enemy ships if things are going badly - you have great speed, stealth, and toughness (6xCommand Centres + 2xRepairBots).

and lastly...
* be very afraid of Pythons, Anacondas etc - their Orik missiles are near impossible to shake in a Polaris.

Posted: Tue Nov 11, 2008 12:16 am
by Legacy
I agree with most of the merits of a high thrust ship.

However, I've yet to employ very large thrust quotients in a fighter. My aging Blockade Runner design, as well as the two newer designs based on a similar principle use it to great advantage on bombing runs. Coupled with powerful forward radar, they can spot important targets(Starbases, Wormholes, etc.), fly toward them, stop in their tracks until the target is destroyed by waves of Plectron and/or Yatari, then speed off--ideally while fighters are busy elsewhere.