The question has been posed to me in private as well, but I think I’d like to answer it in public for general knowledge, what are all those extra files next to the background hod files? Well, those are pretty important, they’re the environment cubemaps maps for the background, or envmaps. Ships that are at all shiny have to reflect the background to some extent, and rather than render using the actual background for that, these cube maps are used for that.
The exact ins and outs of this are tricky and I don’t have a complete grasp of the process, and it’s been a while since I got my hands dirty with it to boot, but Gearbox posted some about it in my old background threads, at HODOR Skybox Adventures. Also, http://images.akamai.steamusercontent.com/ugc/254840622246476487/FB8FA57265E7FF1F95C99F0D216F551F727518A5/ shows the effect of them somewhat. I actually originally created these objects to troubleshoot problems with my own envmaps and inspect their effects. The far object has max reflect and no specular. You can see some hints of the background reflected on it. the right object has min reflect and specular. The near object has max specular and min reflect, and is pretty heavily influenced by the color but has no details. And the right has max specular and reflect both, so you see everything there.
@Nathanius, regarding your issue with one light, I’d bet the engine creates two lights and then loads their values from the files. So if you leave a light undefined, it just has junk data in it. You could try just making a second directional light with zeros for it’s lighting value. I don’t recommend a single light setup though, in the past I’ve found continuum maps with similar lighting quite frustrating and unappealing. Generally I try to emulate(or at least think about) three point lighting in my maps, with ambient standing in for the back light. This is largely based off wikipedia and conversations with amateur CG artists rather than any professional training, but it seems to work out well. More or less, one strong light coming from the map’s primary light source, then a second softer light coming in at roughly right angles to it, and a weak but definitely present ambient. That lets shadows and the play of light bring out shapes without being overbright. On maps where I’ve allowed myself to play with other things, like parallel lights from opposite sides, I find the results might be novel, but not as pretty, and somewhat flattening of the ships. Along similar lines of thought, you might try on strongly colored maps to have the primary/key light and the ambient be neutral colored and then the secondary light have a noticeable color tone, so the ships are colored from one side but still show their normal colors from another side.
On another track, if anyone has good advice on how to balance the diffuse and specular light values on the background lights, I’m all ears.