I spoke with Vonrd and we came up with some suggestions.
A naming convention is the first step. As said above, no mater what is used, someone will figure out a way to get there skin to the top. Better to be sure to just use the same convention and have all our skins in a group. That said, Klaiber's example works well especially for someone with multiple skins. Unfortunately there are no thumbnails available when you choose a skin in game. v1 and v2 have no universal meaning except to their owner. Vonrd and I discussed naming conventions. The prefix just needs to be decided. We discussed numbers and he still liked the "a_" prefix. The "!JG1" looks very good and is simpler than "a_" As long as the same prefix is used for all JG1 skins, they will be in a group so the actual prefix is irrelevant. Whatever Vonrd wants Vonrd gets.
There are two real problems: suffixes and multiple skins. These actually come is several flavors with their own problems. Easiest to look at is the FC/ Richthofen name. "prefix_Pd3_Hotlead_J10" looks great but do we need the J10 on the end? He knows what jasta he is in. When he plays, his in game name will have the J10 on the end. By getting rid of the J10 you basically have the pilot name. So Hotlead gets a transfer to the Russian front and is now in jasta4. His in game name will change to "JG1_Hotlead_J4" but we need a new skin. A new skin with the original name "prefix_Pd3_Hotlead" will overwrite the existing file and prevent multiple skins. So we get rid of jasta suffixes. The WW II planes are a bit of a challenge. First is the use of winter skins. It is hard to imagine a battle for Stalingrad and not see snow. Sooner or later you will be on a winter map and need a winter skin. The easiest is a plane name change: "prefix_Bf109f4_Hotlead" to "prefix_wBf109f4_Hotlead". You know you are selecting a 109 because that is the plane you selected on screen. This is the custom plane list and you get to see the "w" first. This will put all of the winter skins in a group bellow the summer planes. No need for a "_w" suffix. Multiple skins as discussed above have no meaning except to the owner. This then becomes a name change for the pilot instead of the plane "prefix_Bf109f4_Hotlead" for plane 1 and "prefix_Bf109f4_Hotlead2" for plane 2. No need for a "_v2" suffix. I have tested this and it puts the second plane with a 2 on the end after the plane with no number on the end. The other consideration for the WW II planes is the pilot number. Re-skinning planes to change numbers creates a lot of work and multiple skins. With the naming convention,and no staffel suffix, new skins will over write the old ones. That helps reduce multiple skins. It was suggested that once you get a number, it is your number. You may change staffel but your number NEVER changes.
Well now that we have our planes named, what do we do with them? The solution was to follow the 777 RoF system. An initial volume 1 followed by new planes and updates in volume 2, etc. I suggest Volume 1 be divided into an "A" and a "B", splitting the WW I and WW II planes and creating smaller initial downloads. Later volumes will have both WW I and WW II in them. Later volumes are expected to be smaller and it was felt that it was best to have a simple pathway. Updates to pilot planes overwrite existing files and keep the storage space small. All skins are reduced or done in 2k mode, again to reduce storage space. The download links can be listed in a thread and we can post the links on the IL2 forums. Others that want our skins can download them at their convenience.
All of this re-naming and volume compilation means that we have to delete what we have and install the skins with the new names so that we are all on the same page. The volume system is meant to make it easy to see the pathway for exiting members and new members as they are enlisted or for others that want our skins.
People will need to be careful downloading skins from other sources. It is easy to download a pack of skins and find that you are filling up a all your storage space. Personally, I do not want every skin made by every Joe Shmoe out there. I will probably download most of the skins for the pilots in FiF. This means my list of custom skins is not very big and it is easy to find the JG1 section.
Time for another meeting?