WC4 Mod For Homeworld 2 In The Works (June 5, 2006)

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
***** TOP SECRET *****
F-107 Lance

Codename: Dragon.

The Lance is the apotheosis of the aerospace design capabilities of the Terran Confederation during the Terran-Kilarthi War. Soon after the production debuts of the F-103 Excalibur, the brightest minds of the various design bureaus of the Confederation started working on a new craft that would not be the successor to their astounding creation, but a devastating complement, with the promise of instigating a new revolution in carrier warfare. The end of the war came too fast for work on the first prototype to even finish, however, the capabilities offered by that single craft were deemed enough to allow a production run despite the budgetary restrictions that followed the Treaty of Torgo. The fighter's performance in the hands of the infamous Black Lance group was nothing short of spectacular, though did not prevent the destruction of the renegade forces at the hands of the Terran Confederation, the Union of Border Worlds and the Kilrathi remnants after Space Marshall Tolwyn's treachery came to light in a dramatic confrontation on Earth. The use of that craft for numerous crimes against humankind sealed its fate as a tainted weapon, closing the project, with persistant rumours abounding of a handful of squadrons preserved under heavy scrutiny.

This fighter came as a shock to many for its change of paradigm in a way not seen since the F-57 Sabre. The latter, introduced at the height of the Kilrathi War, was probably the first true multi-role fighter of the conflict for the Terran Confederation, simultaneously capable of performing space superiority missions and attack missions from a same carrier by changing its loadout. It meant a higher versatility for any carrier equipped with wings of this large and potent fighter. The end of the war, however, came back to more specialized roles, the Thunderbolt being, in some ways, a failure as a successor to the Sabre, suffering from many drawbacks as both a fighter and a bomber while the specialized designs of the Excalibur and the Longbow performed admirably in respectively space superiority and attack missions.

Then came the Lance. An entirely new concept designed around various new technologies coming to life at roughly the same time: a perfected cloaking system arguably more efficient than the Kilrathi design and allowing for a use on a much heavier craft after the rumoured experiments on the TCS Philadelphia and a miniaturized, albeit extremely expensive, matter/anti-matter power source until now reserved for capital ships. This combination of technologies allowed for a bomber-sized strike craft that would have combat performance on the level of the Excalibur itself, a combat radius limited only by the pilot's endurance and a cloaking device far more advanced than anything that came earlier.

A fighter/bomber that would be able, during the very same mission, to engage successfully several times its numbers in enemy fighters, conduct deep reconnaissance missions and strike capital ships with devastating firepower. The very first omnirole fighter.

Planned to replace every fighter and bomber in the arsenal of a heavy carrier, the maintenance intensive craft would have been a true revolution in the Kilrathi War had it lasted long enough. Equipped in its Block 0 version with a pair of plasma guns and a pair of tachyon guns, its forward firepower is barely inferior to the Excalibur's, as is its missile load-out, but carries a pair of anti-ship torpedoes capable of crippling even a heavy cruiser, an advanced cloaking device and the most effective avionics systems ever put on a fighter, allowing it to partially counter other cloaking systems.








The infamy of the Black Lance's signature fighter led to the loss of its legacy, as the Terran Confederation chose to go back to specialized designs such as the Vampire and the Devastator, both particularly effective in their roles, but lacking the omnirole nature of the Lance. And its mind-numbingly high individual cost.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Some additional pictures taken after the brand new paint got worn a lot:










Finally, here, with normal wear:









Which version do you prefer, Wingnuts? Myself, I have some feeling for the last series.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Hmm. The choice of version would depend entirely on the context. The Dragon was brand new at the time of WC4, so if it's presented in a similar context, it should be brand new (in which case, maybe it can be made a bit more shiny?). If, on the other hand, it is being presented in a "twenty years later" scenario where the BL are separate from Confed and have just come out of hiding or something, then beaten up is the way to go. In short, don't just choose the prettiest, choose the one that tells the story you want to tell.

In regards to the worn-out option, by the way, I think you'd need to fix it up a little bit anyway. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of streaks running across the ship. This makes no sense, because streaks should be in the direction of travel - from the front towards the back.
 

DefianceIndustries

Rear Admiral
Hmm. The choice of version would depend entirely on the context. The Dragon was brand new at the time of WC4, so if it's presented in a similar context, it should be brand new (in which case, maybe it can be made a bit more shiny?). If, on the other hand, it is being presented in a "twenty years later" scenario where the BL are separate from Confed and have just come out of hiding or something, then beaten up is the way to go. In short, don't just choose the prettiest, choose the one that tells the story you want to tell.

In regards to the worn-out option, by the way, I think you'd need to fix it up a little bit anyway. Right now, I'm seeing a lot of streaks running across the ship. This makes no sense, because streaks should be in the direction of travel - from the front towards the back.
I guess if it's a stealth fighter it probably shouldn't be shiny per-se even brand new, light reflection would catch an opposing pilot's attention. though it might seem kind of silly to worry about the hull color when it can simply bend light around itself at will - but it still has to decloak to fire. (Thanks Star Trek - but honestly if it could fire while cloaked, it would be ridiculous to fly against)

Also those "smudges" are actually a very faint digital camo pattern that I put in the original texture to help break up the monotony, but when LIF increased the saturation and decreased the luminosity to darken the hull up, they kind of look smudgy, so I see where you're getting it from.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I guess if it's a stealth fighter it probably shouldn't be shiny per-se even brand new, light reflection would catch an opposing pilot's attention. though it might seem kind of silly to worry about the hull color when it can simply bend light around itself at will - but it still has to decloak to fire. (Thanks Star Trek - but honestly if it could fire while cloaked, it would be ridiculous to fly against)
Perhaps in the WC context, it's not so silly - maybe it could wind up bending its own gun blasts back on itself, since even if they're not lasers per se, they're some sort of energy weapons :).

And yeah, I did think about the shininess not being appropriate for a stealth fighter... and then I thought, screw that :p. For the Dragon, its brand-newness is far more important to convey than its stealthiness, which is conveyed through cloaking anyway.

Also those "smudges" are actually a very faint digital camo pattern that I put in the original texture to help break up the monotony, but when LIF increased the saturation and decreased the luminosity to darken the hull up, they kind of look smudgy, so I see where you're getting it from.
Hey, camo could be an interesting idea as well. Now, I don't think this will be quite the way to go, but just for the heck of it, do you think you could create a version that has another ship painted on top of the Dragon, against a black background? You know, the way submarines in WWII would occasionally have a trawler painted on the side of the conning tower?
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
And yeah, I did think about the shininess not being appropriate for a stealth fighter... and then I thought, screw that :p. For the Dragon, its brand-newness is far more important to convey than its stealthiness, which is conveyed through cloaking anyway.
Thing is, when one sees the sketches and models, it's not particularly shiny either. Though I guess that for a SP-mission taking place at the end of the War or just after, with the first prototype being taken for a spin, it could come in shiny finition. :)
Hey, camo could be an interesting idea as well. Now, I don't think this will be quite the way to go, but just for the heck of it, do you think you could create a version that has another ship painted on top of the Dragon, against a black background? You know, the way submarines in WWII would occasionally have a trawler painted on the side of the conning tower?
I doubt it would have been effective in the WC verse. Long-range optical sensors would have seen through the trick instantly, plus, being in 3D rather than naval 2D, the perspective would mess with the whole thing.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Mini-update, with the Black Lance ship behind one of the most memorable missions sequence of the series, the jammer ship. In the Legacy version of the mod, it offered the possibility for a player to cloak all friendly ships around itself for sneak attacks or logistics protection. In the current gameplay concept, it will be much more devious, creating a large bubble in which all enemy sensors and weapons will be severely degraded in effectiveness, with the idea being that an unwary player might not even realize a task force is being jammed before it is far too deep to run away when the trap is sprung. At which point the qualitative superiority of the Black Lance equipment would become even more lopsided. Expect very restrictive cap limits such as one or two such ships for a player, on the same level as the Vesuvius.

Not yet ingame, but the main file is roughly ready.


Jammer 1.png
Jammer 2.png
 

Dundradal

Frog Blast the Vent Core!
Man, I need to fire this up with an opponent. I'm sure I'll get my clock cleaned a few times but hot damn if this isn't getting better every post!
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Man, I need to fire this up with an opponent. I'm sure I'll get my clock cleaned a few times but hot damn if this isn't getting better every post!
Heh, to be honest, every time I played the mod against a human, I got my ass kicked hard, mainly because I'm not that good of a RTS player (overthinking my actions, not as reactive, too focused on single aspects, etc.). This is why I really hope I'll be able to design a proper game AI that would be able to use most of the specific tricks for people to enjoy the experience in a more controlled environment. The other element that would be interesting in terms of design would be to turn the game in a SP-only 4X (MP would be possible, but without the possibility to save multiplayer games and restart them, this would be an endurance contest more than a strategy game). To do this, I'll have to wait for additional map tools or to work out some way to make my own randomized mega-maps. By which I mean extremely large maps, mostly empty but with jump buoys and set up so that you wouldn't be able to leave the "stellar systems" linked by the capturable buoys. As you guessed, there's still quite a lot of possibilities with this game engine. :)
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
A semi-update, more of a sneak peak than real announcement. I got @Klavs81's massive texture for his Snakier to work in the first of my editing softwares, which allowed me, with some work, to get these:





Looks pretty nifty if I may say so, and if I can manage to get it through the final conversion software (right now, it's making it crash for some unknown reason), it could make a nice appearance in the campaign. About that, some good news is that a map editor for HWRM has finally been released (screenshot of it being configured to work with my files and allow Wing Commander ships to be set up in the maps themselves). This is beyond "nifty", as it will allow scenario creation to proceed much, much more smoothly. I've posted the link on the bottom of the post, for those interested (keep in mind it still requires medium-advanced knowledge of the engine to make playable stuff, but, heh...). So, right now, the whole thing is about getting the correct tools to work for the job. Plus, I'm learning the basics of texturing to get the job done. It's still going to take some time, but things are pushing forward.

https://forums.gearboxsoftware.com/t/tool-paydays-map-editor/1546714
 

DefianceIndustries

Rear Admiral
Niiice. one question though I notice in the last screen shot a black square just beneath the stormfire pod, is that a glitch or something lurking in the mesh I didn't clean up?
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Niiice. one question though I notice in the last screen shot a black square just beneath the stormfire pod, is that a glitch or something lurking in the mesh I didn't clean up?
Sharp eye, aren't you? :)

This was the fuel subsystem, anchored to the Missile joint, slightly outside the ship itself. I edited the ship soon after taking the screenshots and added a joint wihin the ship for the subsystem.
 
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