Its many, many, weeks since I started this project and now it’s finally starting to move over to Object Builder. But honestly, it’s still not even close to getting in game. I can’t tell you how much of a struggle it’s been to get this far.
But the biggest problem is with time and motivation. People complain about being teased and “oh why don’t you complete X”. And all I can assume is that they’ve never tried to make anything more than a box. If they even tried at all. Try committing 20-30+ hours a week ontop of a job, household chores and some level of (none internet enabled) social life.
When you sit down and start to work on something like this it doesn’t actually hit you just how big a job it is until you get into it. Once the basic structure is done you start to look at what you are missing. Its then that the detail that you need to add that actually jumps out at you. Especially when you look at the real thing then look at your own model. Its odd things like pipes, light fittings, cabinets. All the things you ignore in daily life just because they are always there. Remove them and you suddenly notice and it makes a space feel empty and dead without them. Then suddenly you keep finding some little detail that you need to make then another and another. It does get repetative and kind of depressing. At some point you have to find something else to do to bring yourself out of the cycle of grinding out UV maps and textures. Moving the big stuff into Object builder is that for me.
Textures arent final!
The textures shown are just place holders. Don't judge yet. I've not really attempted to paint everything at this stage since the UV layout and texel count are changing all the time. My 'normal' work flow on this job has been thrown out of the window many weeks ago. After I made the basic hull I began focusing on features as shown in earlier updates, the CWIS and the Deck crane etc. But then i realised I was going to have to re-visit them to make sure they all fitted in to the hull's scaling and colours etc. So I've decided to go big first and then return to features. This will mean I get the Hull and interior done and unwrapped. Then I will detail it. Then return to make hi-poly/res models to properly texture, bake and create decent materials for the final product. It has been a completely messed up process so far but I am learning new things. And re-learning more than a few things I had forgotten over time.
Go Big or Go Home!
As of last night, there is 133,696 faces on the model in OB. This does not include the interior and more than half the detailing. The final figure is probably going to pass 280,000. Which is a lot but if you assume a lot of the recent planes when loaded up are 28,000-32,000 faces each is really only 10 planes. The killer, which shouldnt be a surprise to any addon maker, is the anchor chains. They are too big to use a texture trick, and too much of a feature to ignore them. But they do take nearly 17,000 faces. When you add over a kilometer of railings, post as well these things do add up really quickly.
Now might be a good time to invest in that new GPU you've been thinking about...
It’s at this point you realise that an obsession with detail may not be the best path to take. Before anyone panics too much I will LoD the hell out of this too to ensure the best performance I can.
I really do miss the Ducks. So simple by comparison. The Albion class will be:
Static – its just too big to be anything else given the limitations of the game engine.
Made up of 4 blocks, each configured as “class house” to enable ladders lights etc
2x CWIS (more on that in a bit)
2x 30mm Cannon
Numerous 7.62mm GPMG mounts
4x LCVP mk 5 – two configured for ViV and 2 for personnel only.
2x LCU mk10 – ViV with some personnel capacity
Curse of the Real World
In nearly every project I've ever worked on, in this community or in the real world the requirements change. One thing that is guarenteed to happen is that at the moment you think you have a good accurate model. And I do mean the exact moment you sit back and say to yourself, "I'm proud of that". Some b@#$%£* points out that its isnt actually correct anymore. In this case, a really nice person (yes that is sarcasm), told me that the Royal Navy in Albion's recent refit had replaced the Goalkeeper CWIS with the Phalanx. I really liked my Goalkeeper model. They also swapped out the main radar and a whole raft of other changes.
You can imagine, I'm thrilled. Not only does it replace the CWIS but parts of the super structure have to be remade!
Okay so its not that bad. More additions than huge alterations but it was a pain in the arse. I will probably release the Bulwark with the Goal keeper and and the Albion with the Phalanx. But the in-game reality isnt that different.
Command & Control, Logistics
I’ve not really attempted to do much regarding the config yet, but I do intend on making the ship as practical as the game engine will allow. This includes leveraging the radar capabilities and attempting to make the LPD a floating command post for all the Milsimers out there. The model does feature a C&C compartment. Which If I can get my head around the radar and some scripting should morph into something usefull ingame.
I am also planning to create a series of resupply objects, material and weapons/ammo crate that can be loaded onto the HAM Trucks, LCU and LCVPs, even moved onto the deck and sling loaded, that will allow you to move your stores ashore to establish a base and re-supply from the ship as an when needed.
Progress of a sort.
Right at the start I said this was going to be a long job. I didn’t realise how difficult it would be either. The technical side isn’t too hard. But the LPD is pushing the limit of what the game engine can handle. It turns out its pushing my patience too.
I’ve had to re-build and re-map the Hull three times. I don’t actually have decent hull reference so everything is guesstimated. Which the Engineer in me hates. I have photos and a really low res drawing but no proper drawings so not everything wanted to fit together. Eg the LCVs on the davits. The deck was too narrow on the first build. Meaning you couldn’t get to the LCVP to deploy them let alone get in.
So, after a few weeks of frustration and no social life at all; I’m just focused on getting the external structure complete and then I’ll return to the interior spaces. But there is still a long way to go and a lot of detail to make.
Wish me good luck. I am going to need it.