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FCOL Ship Definition Tips

 
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gar1138
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Joined: 10 Jul 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:08 pm    Post subject: FCOL Ship Definition Tips Reply with quote

After making a bunch of new ship definitions, I thought I would start this thread to share some of the tips I have learned through trial and error. Sort of a "best practices" thread. I only have a few tips now, but I'll add more as I come across them, and hopefully others will add some too. Note: This assumes you are at least familiar with the basics of using the FCOL Ship Definition Tool to create a new ship (and have the ship card image to use).

* Always try to provide a useable counter with the ship definition you submit (or let Paul know if an existing counter in the library can be used). This will avoid the issue of ships missing counters and using the generic freighter counter.

* All of the Web boxes on Tholian ships need to be set as Web Snares (firing arcs of L / R), not Web Generators. This is needed since all web boxes in FC can be used as Snares in the FCOL client.

* All Stinger boxes on Hydran ships need to be marked as Fighter (not Shuttle). This will allow the Hydran ship to launch Stingers from those boxes. The other true (admin) shuttle boxes should be marked as Shuttle.

* It seems to work best to resize the ship card graphic outside of the Ship Definition Tool (using Paint or another graphics program), rather than use the scaling feature of the Ship Definition Tool itself (ie, so you can always use 1:1 scaling in the Tool). The goal is to first size the ship card graphic small enough so that the user doesn't have to scroll horizontally (and not a whole lot vertically) to see the whole ship in the FCOL client. This will also avoid the issue of the ship card appearing too huge to use.

* Be sure to mark the drone racks on Federation ships as "Drone (Fed)", not the standard "Drone" selection.

* After you have placed some boxes on the ship card, you can select them by using the Selection Mode (ctrl+M). Selected boxed can be moved by using alt+arrows (to move full box lengths) or shift+arrows (to move by single pixel lengths). This is handy to precisely line up the boxes with the ship card graphic. Going back to Selection mode is ctrl+L.

* Always remember to enter all the information into the Properties tab (turn mode, movement cost, etc) so the ship functions correctly in the client.

* You can test out your newly-created ship definition in the client (always a good idea). Start a game, right-click in the board and select Add A Piece --> Other tab --> User Defined Ship. Then choose your new ship definition and counter in the dialog box that is displayed. Note that Orion Option Mounts will not function until the ship is formally added to the library by Paul.


Does anyone else have any other tips or "gotchas" that are good to keep in mind?

Or from a slightly different angle: Paul, if you happen to read this, are there things that you would prefer folks to do a certain way or be aware of?

Thanks,

Garrett
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Nerroth
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Joined: 08 Oct 2006
Posts: 1577
Location: Ontario, Canada

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 6:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The snare thing won't be ideal for Middle Years ships; or rather, ships which would also be available in that era.

For example, the Tholian C in Briefing #2 is Middle Years only, so wouldn't need the snare; however, the POL in the same module is available in the Main Era as well (but would only have the snare available in the later setting).

Would such units need to have two separate definitions; one to cover their use in the Middle Years, and another for the Main Era?

(Or, in the case of Tholian ships which also served in the Early Years, a third?)
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Krellex
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Joined: 30 Sep 2009
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Location: RIS Boise

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 7:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Gar,
Do you have a synopsis on how to create the counters? With all the ship cards I have done, I have never done a counter and would like to know how.
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gar1138
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Joined: 10 Jul 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Wed Feb 09, 2011 8:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regarding the Snares: I don't think that two ship definitions would be necessary. I suppose that if it is truly a middle-year specific ship, then it should be set as a Web Generator. However, just to be safe, I think I would still set it to be a Web Snare in the client. This way it can easily be used as a snare in any specific case, but if snares aren't available in the particular game you're playing, you can just know not to use them (ie, the FCOL client really doesn't care and both Webs and Snares are hit by the same item on the DAC).


Regarding the counters: They are simply a very small image file (jpg, gif, or png) of the counter, usually about 100x100 pixels. I don't have a specific procedure for creating them, but I usually do one of two things:

1. I have images of some of the later product's counter sheets. I simply cut out the needed counter (and modify it if needed) and save it.
2. I grab an existing counter from the library and modify it to be the new ship. These are all located in the Library folder for each empire.

I both cases, if you have an existing counter image with the base hull type, all that needs to be done is to change the letter designation to reflect the needed ship (I just use Paint, but any minimal graphics program would work).

Thanks,

Garrett
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ericphillips
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
Posts: 702
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA, Sol, Gould Belt, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Universe Beta

PostPosted: Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:07 pm    Post subject: Re: FCOL Ship Definition Tips Reply with quote

gar1138 wrote:
Does anyone else have any other tips or "gotchas" that are good to keep in mind?


Here are a couple:

Large Sets of Boxes: Like warp engins or shield boxes, I tend to do them in little groups, usually no more than 5 in any direction. This keeps the spacings in the sets from moving too far apart, therefore you spend less time selecting and nudging the boxes.

Defining Similar Ships: here is a trick to deal with similar ships (like an NCL and NCD). Make each a layer in your graphics program (Photoshop, the free GIMP tool, others).

Rescale them so that the outlines match up (to check this, make the layer above semi-transparant). This way, the imiages are the same size. Now, export each layer as a separate JPG. Load the first into the ship definition tool. Mark it up and save it as SHIPNAME1.DEF.

Now, save the definition under a new filename, and use the Load Image command to bring in the next image. The previous boxes remain. Delete the ones that are different and replace them with new ones, and shift any that are out of whack (similar ships have boxes in slightly different places).

(Much shorter since gar1138 pointed out a better way, below).

Double Check Your Work: Load the definition in a Fed Com session in FCOL. Open the Damage Allocation and check the number of shields. There are several cards that have been made with the shields messed up (including some with mysterious shields marked 7 and 8 ). Also, open up the weapons status screen. You can quickly count the weapons, see their designations, and arcs there. Finally, check the energy.


Last edited by ericphillips on Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:09 am; edited 1 time in total
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gar1138
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Joined: 10 Jul 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Eric, great points.

Regarding the Defining Similar Ships, I have found that you can actually just open completed SHIPNAME1.DEF in the tool, then select Load Image for second (similar) ship graphic and the new image will load with the boxes still defined from the first def (so you can then just delete/change what is needed). No text editing required. I used this method to create all the different Base Stations and Monitors.

This is great, keep the tips coming!

Garrett
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ericphillips
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Joined: 16 Apr 2009
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Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA, Sol, Gould Belt, Orion Arm, Milky Way Galaxy, Local Group, Universe Beta

PostPosted: Fri Feb 11, 2011 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I never tried it like that. Its just like me to take apart the computer to see why it wont turn on, when all I got to do is see if it is plugged in.
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gar1138
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Joined: 10 Jul 2007
Posts: 345
Location: Eugene, OR

PostPosted: Wed Feb 16, 2011 5:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

* Rear Hull must be set to Aft Hull (there is no Rear Hull in the tool).

* Reactors must be set to REAC, not APR.

* Reactors on bases must be set to Base Reactor (so they are hit correctly on all power hits on the DAC).
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