Artist documentation: Aircraft carrier


The aircraft carrier in WCS has not been designed in one step. In fact several iterations where needed to come to the final design used in the game. On this page I will show some early designs and explain why these where not chosen. Remember that each individual vehicle and building has gone trough several of these steps.

First phase: Global requirements

Example Description
The first design of our aircraft carrier was an attempt to make it look like the real thing (Nimitz class). The idea was initially to make it appear as a reconnaissance photograph from a spy sattelite.

Unfortunatly the computer resolution does not match the required level of details needed to make a recognizable image (at least to our standards). Also, we want to use airplanes that are bigger than what would fit on the small elevators on this real world model.

Conclusion after discussing this design: Our graphics must be easliy recognizable because in the heat of a large campaign we do not want the player to have difficulties in recognizing the types of weapons he or she sees on the screen. Furthermore, we want to be able to use aircraft from the game without the need of scaling them to fit on the deck.


Second phase: Design style

Example Description
The second attempt was more targetted at what we had in mind. A problem was that no airplane fits on the elevators. (Note that the elevators are placed similar to the previous design). We could use planes with folded wings, but I had second thaughts about the extra needed animation to let airplanes fold and unfold their wings. Also, I had to animate three separate elevators. This would make programming these vehicles a difficult task.

Furthermore, the ship is to big. For a quick overview of the battlefield it is necessary that one sees a substantial amount of weapons. With ships this large there wouldn't be enough room on the screen to show a complete naval unit.

Conclusion after discussing this design: The design style is ok. The ship is easily recignizable as an aircraft carrier. Using this design in a real game is to difficult. It requires to much special effects. This takes a lot of programming resources but will cost a considerable amount of procesor time while playing the game. This may be noticable to the player.


Third phase: Practical usability

Example Description
In this design the dimensions of the ship are acceptable. It is still a big ship, but it is the biggest from them all. All other ships will be smaller.

The control tower is build like a bridge over a road. Planes come from the elevator, start (and pass under the control tower) and then lift-off.

I thanked the artist for his constructive work and motivated him to keep up the good work in his next design.

Conclusion after discussing this design: After the design style now also the size of the ship is within an acceptable range. The amount of animation is much less then in the previous design. The construction of the ships bridge (as a real bridge) seems a bit awkward.


Fourth phase: Believability

Example Description
Another constructive idea ... as long as your not in a plane that needs to land.

A shortcoming of this design is that it looks a lot like an oil-transport ship. While it is not sure that we will have oil-transport ships in our game this is the time to make sure that this option stays open in the future.

Conclusion after discussing this design: We are getting close now. We need some detailed design to come to a final design.


Fifth phase: Finalizing

Example Description
This design was an attempt to utilize VTOL planes only. I liked the positioning of the control tower. The design is OK but my comment was that this is not easily recognised as an aircraft carrier.
We may use this design for a helicopter assault ship.

Conclusion after discussing this design: We have now a usable design, but we feel that we can improve on it a little more. Style, size, and general design are all ok now.


Sixth phase: Finishing

Example Description
This design combines the nice control tower with the recognisable features of an aircraft carrier. For the time being this is our final design of an aircraft carrier.

An complete and animated result can be found here.

Conclusion after discussing this design: Designing a vehicle is a lot of work. Decisions must be made about the general design style, size of the object, recognisable graphics and a number of practical considerations.
In reality the design of this ship was not a stand alone activity. Several other vehicles where designed in parallel. Hence we agreed upon a generic style for all ships. The final design still needs a conciderable amount of animation. We may be forced to simplify the design in a later stage.