Is it just me, or does everyone else wonders that we have a heck full of models in all game variants but no new games to really use them
What DI said:
Because new titles like total conversions or additional mods take time...
Lots of it.
Importing models in a game is not necessarly a straightforward job. For example, in my case, I have models from various sources, that can be summed to three big ones, the Wing Commander Saga team, DefianceIndustries and Klavs. Of the three, DI is the only one who made models with the Homeworld Remastered game engine in mind. The WCS models were made for Freespace 2, while Klavs’ models were so detailed and refined he probably never thought until a couple of years ago that someone would even attempt to integrate them in an actual game: they were there for showcasing, renders, scenes and the such.
Consider something such as turrets, for example. In Freespace 2, they are sub-models of the main models, with a specific file architecture inside the model to allow the game to use them. In Homeworld Remastered? Nope, I need them to be separate files, and the guns themselves are separate meshes too that have to be controlled individually. This means reworking the files heavily in a way unplanned by the original modellers. And then comes Klavs, who made the models without thinking the turrets would be animated by a game engine, which can lead to turrets being, in some case, fully part of the hull with no separation, so I have to cut, extract, fill, etc.
That’s only for the meshes. Then come the textures, which are not necessarly optimized for games.
So now you have the ships integrated in a way the game engine can actually display them in-game. Great! That doesn’t mean it’s playable. You need to write huge amounts of scripts to tell the game where the guns and engines are, or the runways, or how the turrets behave. And the weapons themselves. Or maybe the tech tree in a RTS so that you can research and build units in a game that has no Developper Kit and where most of the work is done through Notepad ++.
Integrating the whole thing to make the game barebones is one thing. That gives you an Alpha version. To go to Beta, you’ll need the little details like sounds, voices, music, in-game icons and graphics, a working AI that is adapted to your modded units’ peculiarities.
If you want to have single player experience such as campaigns and missions, you have to learn how to script these. For a 15 minutes-long mission, expect a good week of coding and testing until it can offer a core experience that fits the design idea, without any voiced dialogue or cinematics, of course.
Then you have the amusing reality that for most games being modded here, the people on this forum are among the most advanced devs for the games themselves, because a crapload of the features and functions we want to integrate to make the mods faithful to Wing Commander simply do not exist in these games that are no longer covered by their original devs, sometimes for two decades. We do not have access to the source code, so we have to experiment, bypass the engine in increasingly tricky ways, all the while keeping in mind that the game must remain stable, without lag and must do as much as possible without player interaction in said features. For example, it took me five or six years to come up with something as obvious as limited ammunition for bombers in a game that did not have such a feature.
Long story short, the models are, yes, a necessary element and all modders out there are incredibly grateful to the modellers who do such amazing work. But to go from models to games, there are still thousands of hours of work, a decent Total Conversion mod being more often than not a two years to a decade of work, depending on the number of people working on it, their teamwork potential - if they work well together - as well as their availability, the completeness of their global skillset, etc.
2006 for the first announcement, 2016-2018 for a strong Beta status.
How long for Wing Commander Saga? Standoff?