Can't help you with the graphics problem, as I know buggar all about it.
Something I suggest you do is make say, 5-10 missions for your favourite government, add a few outfits and change a few systems. It's only a small project, and it can really give you experience, even if you don't release it. Just do a couple of those plugs and you'll soon be making 50+ mission packs and the like.
What I suggest you DON'T do is add a system, a station and a few ships using existing graphics. That will not be welcome, it will taint your credit as a good plug maker and won't do anything for experience. If you can do everything as you claim, a few missions shouldn't be that hard. If you want to go further, put something of your own into it: a plot twist, some new characters or whatever you can think of.
Another thing I always found helpful was the good ol' mercenaries. Just make a system (or use and existing system) with a station in it, and make a new mercenary government that will work for anybody. That way, you can have missions that are totally broad-based, ie you don't have to fight any one government, since you only work for money. Have a few bounty hunting assignments, and contracts from the Federation, pirates, Wild Geese or whomever you choose.
If you ever need any help with anything, mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also, if you're interested, I'm making a few plugs which need some help and little touches. If you want to help me out on one of those, just tell me and I'll find something for you. It's all experience, and practice makes perfect.
Hope this all helps, matey.
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(This message has been edited by pistgavin (edited 04-13-2003).)