Author Topic: WIP - Warehouse Station  (Read 1892 times)

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Offline Black Wolf

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WIP - Warehouse Station
This is a project I took on late last year at the request of JCDNWarrior. He PMed me out of the blue with a really fantastic idea for what he called a "Cargo Missing Link" - essentially a space warehouse, where freighters could dock, drop off cargo, pick up new cargo etc. He sent me a little sketch that had the basic idea, except he wanted it to be a modular add-on for an existing station. What intrigued me, though, was a tiny element in the sketch - an internal box marked "Hangarbay?"which I saw as a hangar within a hangar - an idea that I loved. That and the obvious utility of the idea (and the fact that it was a cool new stiation idea I'd not thought of) got me hooked on the concept.

I quickly realised it would have to be standalone - it was too complex and big to be an addon - and that it would need to be toned down slightly from what he originally was thinking of. But I still think that what I'm working on will be useful in that "missing link" role - a nexus for cargo transfer, where cargo inside a container can be seen, visually and in game - to transfer to a destination, as opposed to just being dropped near it.

Here's where I'm at at the moment:

https://p3d.in/W9fFL

Obviously, lots still to add. The underside is largely barren, the top of the conning tower thing needs some greebles (probably sensor equipment) and most of the cut out gaps need more geometry in them so that they don't feel too sparsely populated. But a lot of the concepts are there. The sticking out docks will be animated, so they'll only extend when something docks, to grab the cargo container and the freighter separately. There are also the pits in the upper surface - the doors next to them will normally cover the pits, and will only slide back when a ship is bringing in some cargo.

I'm also really fond of the fact that this will have a huge "freighterbay" that the player will be able to fly inside of. It'll be designed so that Chronos freighters can fly inside and dock, which I think will be quite cool. You can also see there's a fighterbay in there, and a shuttlebay at the back. When you start a mission from this thing, you'll have to fly out the main bay. Of course, right now the geometry in there is far too sparse for that level of player proximity, so there's a lot of work to be done in there as well. Not as much as you might think though - the intent is that it will have plenty of cargo containers inside it when its ingame (there're a few in there now, but they're just for scale - the final model will be bare, and they'll be added with dockpoints) - that will have the effect of increasing the player's perceived detail without adding massively to my workload.

The current mesh is 69,000 polies, but a few thousand of them will be from the freighters and cargo containers in the mesh. The ultimate budget is somewhere around 90,000, but most of what's there has already been UVed, so I'd say I'm probably about 75% of the way to texturing.

Other than just showing the model to the community (I'd posted it in IRC, but was encouraged to post a topic here as well), I'm also looking for ideas, especially for internal geometry. I want to add a few more doors and make a low poly pseudo mainhall in the corner, plus some docking pads for a Chronos or two, but that wont fill it. Also, I'm going to substantially modify the conning tower looking thing (at the very least it'll be made substantially shorter - I don't really like it, but I'm not sure what would go better there).

This is probably my number two priority over the next little bit (I have another ship promised to someone else that I need to be cracking on with) but I'll try and post some progress as soon as possible.
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Offline Aesaar

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Looks good.  Always nice to see cool new stations.

 

Offline Colonol Dekker

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Needs a crane on top or bottom?
Docks love a crane....

 

Offline PVD_Hope

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
This looks fantastic! I love installations like this, they add so much realism and flavor.  :D
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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Awesome!

As for things that make sense adding: Besides the crane already mentioned, a system to move containers around without having ships or drones fly in directly might be a cool addition. Think of a mag-lev- or rail-system; putting it on the underside of the station, away from ship traffic, would be logical and give you something to fill the empty space...
(plus a TTC 1 going rounds would make for a nice rotation subsystem :D)
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
For those still interested:





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Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Indeed I am...

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Offline PVD_Hope

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Very cool! Looks like it could be from the T-V War era.
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Offline 0rph3u5

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Very cool, still want it  :yes:
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Offline Trivial Psychic

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Looks like something that could have been a decommissioned carrier, converted to a station.
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Glad to see people are still interested. :)

So the texturing is nearly done, but there is a boat load of work to be done on what will certainly be the most complex pof I've ever built. At this point I have at least a dozen or more translating submodels that need to be rigged, mainly to various dockpoints, of which there will be literally... I mean, not hundreds, but very plausibly 50, I think. Plus I still need to add a few greebles (some rotating dishes and the like) and pump up the interior (still need those landing pads for Chronos' and the pseudo-mainhall/observation stuff I talked about in my earlier post). It looks close, but there's still a ways to go. It's such a cool concept though that I definitely want to see it released.

All that said, none of this is actually new, just a little complicated, so it might take a little while. Still, texturing by my laborious methods has always been my biggest roadblock, so hopefully it won't be insanely long.

Additionally, all that animation means it's unfortunately going to be somewhat tough to use from a FREDders perspective, and somewhat restrictive. My plan as it stands is to optimise it to work with the Chronos (Amazon Advanced) and the Poseidon, maybe the Isis and Elysium too. It's important to preselect ships, as ship specific dockpoints will be critical for navigating ships to exactly where they need to go, whether that's to exactly the right point so that they look like they're resting on a landing pad, or positioning part of the ship in the right place for a docking tube to extend. With that in mind, can anyone think of a compelling reason for another ship to get integrated? A lot of the small ones won't need it (things like the Isis or Mercury will be able to use the fighterbay pretty well, I would think), while really big stuff like the Triton and Zephyus probably aren't at the right scale for this station anyway. But if there's an obvious ship I'm missing let me know now. :)
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Getting there. Still have to do the debris before I do the pof data and the animation. And probably going to updetail the floor texture a little bit.





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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
That's simply aswesome! :)
The detail of the hangar looks almost like a main hall. It's easy to think of a campaign where you land on this thing, then exit to the main hall and it looks just the same; the only thing missing would be the ability to walk around in it.

 

Offline Spoon

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Very nice, more civilian utility type of ships are always really helpful to have around.
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Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
That's simply aswesome! :)
The detail of the hangar looks almost like a main hall. It's easy to think of a campaign where you land on this thing, then exit to the main hall and it looks just the same; the only thing missing would be the ability to walk around in it.

Thanks. Truth be told, the level of detail is way down vs a proper main hall. But I'm considering upping the detail a little for exactly that purpose - well, not for walking around neccesarily, but a few more doors and things so it looks like a proper in game main hall. Maybe not though, once the debris is done the geometry will be locked down.

I'm getting pretty excited to see this completed. Watch this space. :)
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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Yeah MJN wrote that his main halls have 6mio polies of so...
BTW, how many does this thing currently have?

 
Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
I need this. I don't know for what yet, but I need this! :D

 

Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Yeah MJN wrote that his main halls have 6mio polies of so...
BTW, how many does this thing currently have?

Roughly 75000 in LoD0

So, the pof is done, textures too (although I forgot a tiny bit, but it's nothing I need to worry too much about I think in terms of shine maps and whatnot, just a tiny tweak to the diffuse and glowmaps). So  now I have the insanely painful task of animating everything. Turns out, the dockpoint animation code is all based on the dockpoint number rather than the name, which I did not realise. So that adds a little bit of complexity. But the rest is just... ugh.

I have twelve translating submodels, which each require three rotating submodels to work, so 36 animations to test.  I've basically given up on making it work with multiple classes, so it'll be Poseidons all the way. :P But I also need to fairly delicately make the docking paths work, which can be a massive pain. Everything then needs to be tested in-game, which takes as long as it takes. Luckily, repeating geometry means repeating animation data in the table file, but I can definitely see bugs from the wrong dockpoint numbers and such creeping in.

I honestly feel like I will need quite a long time to get this implemented and tested. I think it'll be worth it, but honestly, release is probably at best a couple of weeks away at this point. Wish me luck. :)
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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
I honestly feel like I will need quite a long time to get this implemented and tested. I think it'll be worth it, but honestly, release is probably at best a couple of weeks away at this point. Wish me luck. :)

So do I :)
It's absolutely worth it. :nod: :yes:

 

Offline Black Wolf

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Re: WIP - Warehouse Station
Had a day off work, spent... quite a few more hours than I maybe should have working on this. Got most of the simple (non animated) dockpoints working, and one of the animated Poseidon dockpoints on the side. I ****ing love it. I fully admit I'm talking myself up a bit here, but it is cool as ****, one of the best little detail things I have ever done on a FS model. The poseidon docks, then the bridge dock extends so the polit can walk to the station, and another dock comes up to grab the cargo container. So cool! :D

The animation code is undeniably clunky and there's a little bit more FREDding involved than I would like to get some of the elements working (not the poseidon dock, but some other stuff, like getting a poseidon to drop a cargo container into one of those pits on the top, fly away and have the door slide closed over it - lots of slightly hacky sexping to make it smooth). But I don't care. It's awesome. :D

That's not much of an update, so what I do have is a name and a Tech Description.

Quote
GTI Veles

In the earliest days of interstellar travel, trade between systems was relatively limited by the simple expense of access, both to orbital and super-orbital space and to intersystem jump technology. As technology matured, however, and access to space became cheaper, commercial activity and interstellar trade grew rapidly, particularly as colonisation efforts – and later the 14 Year War – saw demand boom. Soon, the requirements of the ballooning trade network threatened to overwhelm the early Endymion class space stations of the time.

The Alliance’s response was two-fold. The first was the acceleration of the design and deployment of the earliest Arcadia class Installations in order to reduce the burden on existing Endymions in the largest populated system. The second was the development of the Veles, a smaller station and supply depot that could serve in a number of roles as a resupply depot, cargo or passenger transfer station or deep space storage facility in populated systems. Some were further adapted to provide refuelling capabilities or for maintenance and repair of the vessels they serviced.

Unlike the larger, more generalist Arcadia, the Veles demonstrates an almost spartan dedication to its role. Where an Arcadia can accommodate thousands, a Veles has an active crew of only a few hundred, and a maximum capacity of under a thousand people. Where an Arcadia has a cavernous fighterbay and was armed to defend itself during wartime, the Veles was very lightly armed (or in many cases entirely unarmed) and used its various landing bays primarily for shuttles, transports and small freighters rather than fighters. Despite these apparent shortcomings, the Veles was considered highly successful in its role, and the simple, robust design rapidly spread across Sol and the newly colonised systems of the GTA.

In modern times, the Veles continues to be popular, and most systems contain at least one or two of these versatile stations, either in public or private hands. Despite the considerable passage of time since their initial design, modern updates have seen very little change to the Veles’ basic look and layout. Newer models boast improved atmospheric shielding and vacuum sealing, more efficient reactors, slightly more advanced weaponry, and better compatibility with Vasudan ships, but are otherwise essentially identical to their older cousins.
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