Regarding the weapon icons fading in when used stuff, and the assumptions about when and how weapons of enemy ships would be visible that it makes: We'll probably have some rules about when players can see what weapons or other parts enemy ships have, but it probably won't be just "when the ship is firing and immediately after". For graphics planning purposes, you should consider how to display these sorts of icons in general, and not worry about specifically when players would have access to this information. (I mean when in a strategic sense, not in a sub-turn timing sense, as discussed below.)
Also, we'll probably want to be able to shown a few different types of information:
- "this ship has a certain part type"
- "this ship is currently using this part type"
- "this ship has some characteristic about it that isn't related to a part type" (eg. it is owned by player X)
- "this ship has some meter value with a max and a current value" (eg. shield strength, armour / hull strength)
Also, fading in and out with a period of a second or so probably isn't very useful. Turns play out over several seconds at least, and even if the part has some sub-turn firing rate that's represented in the animation, it's probably still "using" the part for the full turn. As such, info about whether a ship is using a particular part should probably be tracked over the length of a whole turn and be available during a pause at the end of each turn.
I always thought we would have basicy a 2D plane, where the ships are moving on. The ships should figure out their height on their own, depending on formations, terrain and other aspects. Also there is a camera which can be moved, rotated and zoomed by the player. Is this what you are after? If not, please clarify what you mean by 'how ships should be shown'.
The main issue of this thread has been whether models should have parts attached according to the design of the ship, or if such ship design information should be shown some other way, such as with icons. Also brought up was the issue of what to do when zoomed out so far that ship models are too small to be recognized, and whether this should be possible.
The points you mention above should also be verified though, and this thread should serve the purpose. Does anyone have comments or concerns about:
- Ships, planets, stars, and other objects in battles are located on and/or move within a 2D plane
- The player can translate, rotate and zoom the camera to view this plane, with some limits such as max/min zoom levels or always viewing the battle plane from "above" (details to be determined)
- Important or major objects in battles are always visibly centred on the battle plane. This includes ships, planets, stars etc.
- Objects' models can extend above and below the battle plane significantly. In particular, a star or planet might be much larger than a ship on screen, and is spherical, so would extend noticably above the battle plane. The object's effective shape in the battle plane is still 2D, however; a star or planet is a circle to ships flying around it, and the visbile extent above or below the battle plane doesn't affect gameplay.
- Groups of objects that aren't individually important, but collectively are important, or that can only be controlled as a group are also centred, as a group, on the battle plane. However, individual models within the group might appear above or below the plane as long as the group is plane-centred. Groups of objects of this sort might include clouds of small asteroids, or squadrons of fighters that the player controls as a group, but can't interact with individually.
Note that the above assumes that planets and stars are in the battle plane, and not a terrain type that you fly "in" or "over", and aren't suspended below the battle plane (as could have been done).