Maybe it's just me, but it's always bugged me that I can't have certain nacelle types be oriented straight up or down- or that I can't make nacelles that are oriented straight up or down match the swept back angle of a ship with swept back pylons. Whenever I mix and match ship parts, I always find that even if I like a Nacelle model, I dislike its orientation.
So I thought: We could have Nacelle orientation as a customization option in the ship tailor.
Now, because I'm familiar with both coding and computer modeling, I know that ships are probably built by mixing and matching the various pieces onto 'snap on' points, and then a ship of a given configuration is rendered as a collection of those parts. This is how set visuals (like the retro borg set) work, and is very evident when a ship cloaks. While it's possible that a given configuration calls up a pre-built model, I find it unlikely due to the number of possible combinations. It'd probably be far easier (and thus more likely to function this way) of just bolting the ship into a configuration and rendering it as is on the fly.
Given that we have ships with moving components (BoP's, the Intrepid), this leaves us with three 'most plausible' solutions to the matter of nacelle orientation.
The first one is what I'll call the 'dumb' solution- or perhaps the 'lazy' solution. It requires the least work and can actually be with a simple find, copy, and replace in all likelyhood.
Essentually this would replace the existing nacelle types with say, three different types each.
Let's take the Akira. By default the Akira's nacelles are angled between 0 and 90 degrees. The ship designer could tell you the exact angle- that isn't important per se. This angle would be referred to as default, or 'alpha'.
You could then take that model and copy it, but have it oriented straight up and down. These angle orientations would be 'beta' and 'gamma'.
Thus on the ship tailor screen, a ship would list the akira nacelle options as:
Diagonally oriented Nacelles become problematic because their assumed 'default' throws off the script changing the model for 'beta' and 'gamma' configurations. Note: This is not a problem if the game already tracks diagonal nacelles as being rotated from a default 0-180 vertical orientation.
Clutters up the interface.
Requires three times as much space as each instance of the nacelle model for player ships must be multiplied for the different configurations.
Solution 2 is the same as solution 1, but requires more work and time to implement, as it requires UI changes- creating a dropdown box that lists the example three configurations- alpha, beta, gamma next to the nacelle type selection box. This would 'hide' the nuts and bolts of the options behind the UI and free up clutter- but it would still require the same things as option 1.
Solution 3 is, likely, the new tech solution. Given how ships are put together, it is likely that ships with moving parts are actually the result of an animation of that part attached to that specific part. When a Bird of Prey enters combat, the wings move down. When they leave combat, the wings come back up.
Thus, to address the matter of nacelle orientation, we split solution 3 into two possible options.
The first is to apply an animation to each set of nacelles- becoming problematic with angled nacelles, but moreso with ships with multiple nacelles in excess of two.
Thus when a player says he wants nacelles in the beta configuration, the game plays the 'animation' of the nacelle to the keyframe of the beta configuration and locks it there.
Pros: Requires less database work as the work is done by the art team. Likely less memory consuming.
Cons: Still requires UI changes as option 2, but is also more work intensive due to the need to go through and animate the different configurations of every set of nacelles available to players in the game. Could possible require more memory due to being an 'animation' or have other unforseen issues resulting from those circumstances.
The second branch of option 3 is to dynamically orient nacelles. It would require a UI change, but wouldn't need any database changes. It would need someone to look at the orientations for angled and non-angled nacelles and then apply those numbers to the database. This is likely to be the less memory intensive application, and requires no real new code. IF someone selects beta configuration, the game just rotates the nacelles as they apply to vessels using that configuration (or on a vessel by vessel basis) using the same tech a ship actually maneuvers with (since that's just rotating the entire vessel :p).
This would require more work than option 1 or 2, but less than option 3a, if I have it correctly. While the extra calculations could be problematic from a lag issue, it should still require less memory than having three times as many nacelle models would.
Of these options, 1, and 3b are the ones that Cryptic is most likely to implement if they implement them at all. 1 requires virtually no work, save for the matter of diagonal nacelles. 3b requires more work but is likely the most 'professional' option, and allows for additional easy customization by altering the code- without having to fire up the 3D designer or anything like that.
But they don't open up in the series/movies they just get brighter. The only ship that has the engine do something mechanical is the Intrepid class changing orientation before warp and I believe ours already do that.
I wouldn't want to wait for the devs to fix all the bugs and model errors before new things being added.
(this could take a while, lol)
Since i love to experiment with different combinations of ship parts, i really would apprciate new options at the ship tailor. The more options we get the more likely there is a combination that looks really good.