Those are some nice lookin' ships... I love the Grass Snake. (so much for a core game, I'm already flying an ubership again).
Yes, they are all in the 'native' range and suitable for beginners. Some of them are even cannonfodder for experienced Commanders. The player versions are weaker than the 'ironass' Cobbie, this wasn't touched in the update process. Fixing some smaller problems like wrong AI declarations was the initial motivation when I started to take a look.
For me every ship was interesting and I've concentrated on a different aspect.
- For the Grass Snake I've tried to 'use' the checkerboard as bumpmap, baked into the diffusemap with some specular effects.
- The Renegade Viper needed a grounding before projecting the original map onto the model. Here the normalmap is the important bit.
- For the RoC I've tried to give it a light satin look which gets visible when the ships moves, specially backlighted.
- And the Farstar should get a pimped/more detailed look, but still in the same scheme as the original.
Oolite is pretty customisable when it comes to textures, even with lowres maps a lot of things are possible. And we are heading for a stable release, so I thought it's time to polish some of them a little bit. I've learned so much just by taking a look in older OXPs and keeping them alive will give new Users/OXPers a good base to start with.