The issue was raised in this context:
eleazar wrote:[In] almost any way of portraying space-ships, the engines aren't just any component. Engines are integral to the form of the ship. This of the Enterprise or your favorite space vessel. You can't just move the engines around without completely changing the ships identity. It's not the same for any but the most outrageously large weaopons. You can add lasers, missiles, ect. without making the hull unrecognizable. If i were designing the ship models i would not want to deal with a system where the user could stick engines anywhere.
Before addressing the particularities of engines, it would seem best to address ship models and parts in general...
The quote assumes that the 3D models will change significantly depending on the design of what they represent. Presumably this include weapons, engines and various other ship parts being visible on the model during a battle. Ideally, this would allow the rough details of a design to be apparent from player inspection, without having to check each ship in a battle. Hopefully it will also made distinguishing between already-known ship types fairly easy as well.
However, it's not been established that doing this is practical or desirable overall...
Technically, I believe it should be possible to position properly formed smaller part models on the surface of ship hulls. tzlaine can hopefully correct if this is not likely to happen, but for now I'll assume it is.
Artistically though, having to make ship models compatible with having other models stuck on to them in a variety of positions might not be ideal. It's presumably much easier to make a nice-looking / stylish / evocative / purposefully bad-looking design if the artist has no restrictions regarding the need to articulate with weapon or engine or sensor array models that are to be placed on the surface afterwards by the engine.
What are artists' and modellers' thoughts on this?