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Proposal: Spacecraft Design Contest

Apr 29, 2005 waleran link
I propose that those VO players who are burning to contribute creative energy to the game can try their hands at modeling spacecraft, or space stations. I bet there are at least a few out there who know their way around a 3D modeling program.

To keep the playing field level, I propose the contest be limited to models created, displayed, and/or rendered only in Wings 3D, a free, open-source, cross-platform 3D modeling program []. Any platform you can play VO on, you can also use Wings 3D on.

What we still need, I think, to put on such a contest:

1. A web gallery for displaying the images [I can make a free Yahoo group if no one has a better alternative to offer]. What would you suggest?
2. A deadline or two [what's the point of a contest without some kind of pressure or "finish line"? What deadline would you suggest?
3. Judges. Judges may not also be contestants, obviously. Alternatives to using a judge or panel of judges are possible. What would you suggest?

Like the coming Cap Ship Battle, this offers no prize except the pride of winning, unless someone wants to offer a prize of some kind.
Apr 29, 2005 CrippledPidgeon link
I'd participate, but I don't particularly feel like learning a new 3D program.

What would be a better equalizer is setting a triangle count limitation. Like maybe 500 triangles for for a small-medium sized ship, and maybe 1500 for a large one.

The lower the polycount, the easier it is for openGL to render, and the easier it is to render, the higher the framerate, which is especially important for lower-end machines.

I wonder what the current high-detail polycounts are currently. I doubt that for the fighters they're over 200-400.

In this way, it's easier for modelers because they can stick to programs they're familiar with, and know the tricks for, but the polycount means that no modeler has any serious advantage over the other.
Apr 30, 2005 waleran link
Good things to think about, CP. I'm interested in hearing more opinions from others, too. I chose Wings because it's free and cross-platform, and thought it would be fair if only Wings were used, so that everyone had access to the same toolset, but I'm interested in what you other budding spaceship designers out there have to say about it.
Apr 30, 2005 Snax_28 link
I would think that the poly count should be the only limiter. I don't think that given the low poly count, anyone will have an advantage over another as far as creative limitations. They may have an advantage conerning how long it takes one to do a comparable task, from program to program. But thats not a reason to disallow other programs.

For instance, I know Maya, I don't know Wings, nor any other program for that matter. And I would love the excuse to get back into it.
Apr 30, 2005 mr_spuck link

/me enters teh MAFy and LCV!

Made in blender (much cooler free crossplatform 3d modeller! :P) for another contest of this kind. The stats don't really fit the current game anymore -.-
Apr 30, 2005 KixKizzle link
Wow cool ships spuck. I would like to learn how to model 3d objects... soo does anyone know of a good program that's easy to learn? Or just a good program. I'll learn it if I see more cool pictures of ships like spucks. :P

Oh yeah I downloaded wings, but if there are better ones let me know thanks.

/givemoney Devs 2c
Apr 30, 2005 CrippledPidgeon link
nothing in 3d is really "easy" to learn. It's really best if you try as many as possible and see which one is easiest for you. For instance, some people think that Maya's interface is utterly bewildering with all its icons and things, and much prefer Lightwave's text labeled buttons, whereas other people find Lightwave's interface clumsy and Maya's extremely streamlined. It's all a matter of preference.

But yea. In games, at least, the toolset isn't as important as the final polycount (well that and how clean the mesh is). I could make a 6 million+ polygon model in Lightwave, but it'd be utterly useless in Vendetta because probably no computer costing under $10000 could render it fast enough for gameplay.

Hmm... looking at the Marauder and Valkyrie models, I suspect they over 1000 polys. That's probably way too high for this contest's purposes, but yea...
Apr 30, 2005 Snax_28 link
I actually believe that 3DMax is the most used for game development is it not? I know that places like EA use it for the majority if not all of their modelling.

Maya is best known for its animation abilities, whereas other programs like Max are known for their modelling capabilities (last time I checked anyway). Dunno much about lightwave.
Apr 30, 2005 CrippledPidgeon link
3DSMax is generally used for game development. In fact, it may be geared towards that, but don't quote me cuz I've never used it. I thought it was mainly for the character animation. Like the animation on the bones is kept, or I dunno...

Maya has pretty good animation and NURBS modeling. Lightwave is an excellent modeler, and has the best bundled renderer on the market. It's pretty much equivalent to MentalRay for Maya, XSI, and maybe Max, but I think you have to pay for MentalRay.
Apr 30, 2005 Dasus Vanos link
yeps 3ds max is the most widely used program for development, its true. This is the program i have, and I can tell you that it can be free, if you know where to go...
Apr 30, 2005 yodaofborg link
I'd like to design a ship, it would be kinda box shaped though, who needs wings, its space, the borg had the right idea, even if TNG is lame.

I've used wings before, just to mess about on, nothing professional, so that might be my choice too.
Apr 30, 2005 Renegade ++RIP++ link
hehe, yodas little devil in a box :D
May 01, 2005 waleran link
CrippledPidgeon said it best: nothing in 3d is really "easy" to learn. I would say that Wings 3D is an easy modeling program for anyone who's accustomed to 3D modeling -- but I suppose it's not so hot for beginners. I'd say trueSpace would be a good once for beginners; the interface makes it easy to see what you can make, and from there, you've just got to poke about to find out what you can *do* to the things you make [like resize them, cut them, drill them].

Whether 3DS Max is used for lots of game development is interesting, but not relevant to our contest, since we're not making content for a game. We're dreaming here. Use what you like -- let's try it that way and see what happens. Hey, the worst that could come of this is some silly pictures, but probably no matter what happens, we'll see some cool spaceship pictures. Hell, we've already seen some. Nice work, Spuck!

The only *legally* free options I know about are Wings 3D and blender []. blender is far more than a 3D modeller; Wings just tries to stick to modeling. They also are both cross-platform and available for just about any platform you can run VO on. I might give blender a try so I can use bitmaps for surface colours and textures, which is something that's frustratingly difficult to do in Wings [for me].
May 01, 2005 LeberMac link
Great ships, spuck!
One looks like a jellyfish, the other looks like a starfish! Very organic and interesting. Good job! I want a MAF, I'll paint it ocean-blue and call it the "Portuguese Man 'o War!" Then I will have to adopt a portuguese accent ingame. Hrm.

I've had this discussion with John B. before via email, and the devs would appreciate that any designs be made in 3D Studio Max (.3DS files) Heck, why do the ship designing in anything else when there's a chance that you can hand over the design to Vendetta and see your work in-game?!?

If I ever get my planetoid done, I'll submit that in 3DS. Just have to be less busy at work so I can screw around in 3DS instead of being productive... :)
May 01, 2005 Moofed link
If the preferred format is .3ds then it is worth noting that Wings has builtin support for importing and exporting .3ds. From what I can tell on the blender forums, .3ds is possible there too but requires passing it through wings anyway.
May 01, 2005 CrippledPidgeon link
Leber: I should say that .3DS is not 3DS Max's native file format, which is .max. It was the file format for Max's predecessor, Autodesk's "3D Studio R1-R4." .3DS has many limitations over .max, such as all meshes must be triangles, and the number of vertices and polygons per mesh is limited to 65536. Though this is fine for Vendetta because they don't want meshes to get too complicated, it is extremely limiting for photorealistic, or cinematic projects.
May 01, 2005 LeberMac link
Excuse me.
Okay, everyone point at LeberMac and laugh.
Yes, .max files. Thank You, CP.
May 02, 2005 waleran link
So what do the devs appreciate best, .max files or .3DS files? I'm guessing .3DS, because it's an older file format that many apps can export to -- though, for various reasons, it's a more limited format.

If you're more interested in making your ship pics look cool, I'd say don't worry about file format and use the app of your choice, but if you think there's a chance the devs might adopt your ship design, you might as well make it in 3DS to improve its chances of making it into VO someday.

I'd rather go ahead and use the format the devs like best, in case they'd want to consider any of my humble designs for future VO use [which would be pretty darn sweet -- what a bragging right that would give you, no?].
May 02, 2005 mdaniel link
Mr Spuck, VERY cool designs. (except for the smiley hehe...)
love that first one with the large antenae!
Looks like what, some kind of explorer or recon ship with large com equipment?

M. Duncan
May 03, 2005 myko link

an edit of a vulture 'update' i did a couple of months ago. 278 polys, the reason for the slight texture irregularities is that I was lazy and edited the model without altering the texture.