Author Topic: Instructions for installing FreeSpace Open and mods (for real men) (Windows)  (Read 60600 times)

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Offline Fineus

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Instructions for installing FreeSpace Open and mods (for real men) (Windows)
This thread has been deprecated -- please see the new version



This installation method is the one where you download all the required components yourself and then place them to the correct places. I'm sure it may sound scary, but it really isn't.
Alternative methods include:
- Turkey's FreeSpace Open Installer (DOESN'T WORK PROPERLY AT THE MOMENT)
- Manual installation on Linux / Mac OS X



Below is a ~9-step list of instructions for installing FSO the manly way. The orange steps are absolutely necessary and there is no way to skip them. Other steps are optional and are either things that will make life a little easier (7-Zip) or things that will make the game prettier (installing the MediaVPs and fiddling with the Launcher features). Each step contains a "Why?" section explaining why you should or must take that step.


Step 1) Installing FS2
Install the game to the location of your choice. C:\Games\FreeSpace2 is a popular choice. Note that
- having FreeSpace 2 in My documents or the desktop will cause errors.
- really long directory paths cause errors
- in Vista/Win 7, having FreeSpace 2 anywhere inside \Program Files\ can cause all sorts of surprising errors/problems.
- it is possible that when you select an existing directory for the GOG installer, for example C:\games\freespace2\, the installer actually installs the game to C:\games\freespace2\Freespace 2\. This is not particularly dangerous, but keep an eye one it, since the FSO executables and the FS2 installation must be in the same directory.

Why? Because FSO is just a game engine. Think about it. If you go to the automobile store and buy an engine, it won't do you much good: you need the rest of the car as well.

Step 2) Installing OpenAL
Download and install OpenAL, an open-source 3D audio API, which is required to get FSO running. (Note: there are many download choices behind the link, but don't panic. Most likely you are a Windows user, so you'll need to download the OpenAL Installer for Windows.)

Why? Because FSO uses OpenAL for producing the sound. FSO won't work without OpenAL. At all.

Step 3) Getting an archive tool
Get an archive handling tool capable of opening .rar and .7z archives. 7-Zip is a good choice.
Why? Because most of the time when you're downloading stuff for FSO, it has been compressed in order to minimize the amount of data you must download. Sometimes the archives are .zips and Windowses can nowadays open those straight away. But .rar and .7z are also popular formats and you need a program for opening those. Some dirty old wanker (Jeff Vader) recommends 7-Zip, because it is free, open-source, lightweight and it supports several formats (at least in terms of decompression, which is what you'll be doing).

Step 4) Acquiring the latest trustworthy build and the Launcher
Get the 3.6.12 Final build and a Launcher from the release thread. There are separate versions for Windows, Linux and Mac. Just download the ones that fit your operating system. If you're using Windows, extract all the files from the packages to your \FreeSpace2\ folder.

If you want to be 1337 master, grab the latest nightly build from the nightly builds board. Grabbing the most up to date **** possible may provide things such as improved performance, new features, money, power, women etc.
Why? Because a "build" is a version of the open source game engine, or FSO engine. It is the single most important element regarding FreeSpace Open.
When viewing a release thread for a build, you'll notice that there are "Inferno" builds and "standard" builds available. There are slight differences between these two. Inferno builds support a larger amount of ship and weapon entries in the table files, thus making it possible to include more ships and weapons in a mod, for example.
Actually, there is a lot of **** to be known when talking about builds. Purely from an end-user viewpoint, it is currently recommended to get the Inferno build, because Inferno builds are multiplayer-valid and are slowly becoming the "normal" build, with the "standard" builds becoming more of an exotic thing.
The Launcher is a tool for configuring certain options of the game. More about this later in this thread.

Also, if you know things about your processor, you can select an SSE or SSE2 version for slightly better performance. If you don't know what these abbreviations mean and are too lazy to check Google/Wikipedia, just select the one that is not SSE or SSE2.

Step 5) Doodling with the cutscenes
If you got your copy of FS2 from Good Old Games, be advised that the cutscenes are located somewhere in \freespace2\data2\ or \freespace2\data3\ or something like that, in any case a folder with the name "data<some number>". They're the .mve files.

Why? Because FSO cannot read the cutscenes from that folder, so move them to \freespace2\data\movies\ .
Note: only the cutscenes are problematic. \data2\ and \data3\ contain other files as well, but they're redundant or empty and you can safely ignore them.

If you feel like saving a little disk space, download the cutscenes in .ogg format. Place the files to \FreeSpace2\data\movies\ . Note that the .ogg cutscenes only work with FSO; they won't show up if you play retail FS2.

Step 6) Getting the MediaVPs
If, and when, you want to improve your FS2 graphically, download the 3.6.10 MediaVPs. Detailed installation instructions are available behind the link.
If you concider yourself "1337", get the 3.6.12 MediaVPs. They're prettier, but can cause problems with mods that haven't been upgraded to work with the 3.6.12 MediaVPs properly. Again, installation instructions are behind the link.
If you're wondering what "MediaVPs" are: MediaVPs are a compilation of graphical enhancements including, but not limited to: high-poly models, improved textures, new effects and so on.
Why? Because they look liek totally cool.

Step 7) Setting things up
Open the Launcher (which you downloaded in step 4).
There is a "Browse" button at the top of the Launcher. Click it.
Select the build you want to use. This is the FSO game engine you downloaded at step 4. Select the one whose file name begins with "fs2_open_3_6_12r". For example, fs2_open_3_6_12r.exe or fs2_open_3_6_12r_INF_SSE2.exe or so on.

Some notes about build differences. When viewing the builds in your \freespace2\ folder, you'll notice that there always seems to be a pair of builds, with maybe a difference of one or few characters between them. The magic character is "d". If the file name contains the character "d" or the word "debug", it means that that build is a "debug" build (for example, fs2_open_3_6_12d.exe). Debug builds are used for bug-hunting and providing important information whenever there is a problem. They are NOT meant for casual playing. Also, against a popular belief, debug builds do NOT magically solve the whatever problem you're facing.
The builds that are not debug builds are "release" builds. Release builds have file names where the "d" is replaced with an "r" or is missing altogether (for example, fs2_open_3_6_12r.exe). Release builds are the ones that you should be using, if all you want to do is play the game. So, at least for this step, go for a "release" build, NOT a debug build.
The naming convention is pretty stupid at the moment. Hopefully at some point builds will  be named so that the one you should use will have a simple name (like fs2_open_3_6_14.exe), while other builds have clear parts in their names to point that they are somehow different (like fs2_open_3_6_14_DEBUG.exe). But for now, you gotta spend money to make money. Or something.
Open the Audio/Joystick tab and make sure that Generic Software is selected. If you have a joystick, you can also check that it has been detected properly.
Open the Video tab and make sure that OpenGL and 32-bit colours are selected.
(Side note: 3.6.9 is the last build in which there is a difference between selecting Direct3D and OpenGL in the Launcher. All newer builds will select OpenGL regardless of what's been selected with the Launcher. This is because
- the Direct3D implementation in FSO has been seriously outdated and sucky for a long time
- it is not worth the effort to continue Direct3D support
- there aren't even any proper Direct3D developers in the SCP team
- OpenGL is cross-platform, while Direct3D is a "Windows only" sort of thing.)
Click "Apply" at the bottom of the Launcher to apply the changes.
Why? Because we assume that you'd want to avoid any problems caused by poor settings.

Step 8) Setting advanced things up
If in doubt, just skip this step.
If you have the MediaVPs and you want to use them, open the MOD tab. Click "Select MOD". Select the folder called "mediavps" and click Ok.
Open the Features tab of the Launcher.
Select "Graphics" as the list type.
Tick on at least "Enable specular", "Enable glowmaps", "Enable environment maps", and "Enable normal maps".
Select "Gameplay" as the list type.
Tick on "Use models for ship selection" and "Use models for weapon selection".
Click "Apply" at the bottom of the Launcher to apply the changes.
If you want to enable further options, especially regarding lighting, read through the command-line reference in the FreeSpace Wiki. Ooh, look, a giant fish. Command-line flags that can't be found from any of the lists can be manually added to the "Custom flags" field.
Why? Because you'll improve the graphics mucho this way.

Hurray! You have now successfully installed FreeSpace Open.

To update FSO with new files...:
If you are updating your MediaVPs, delete or rename your old \mediavps\ folder,  then either use the supersexyawsum1337 Installer or find the newest MediaVPs release thread and follow the instructions there.
If you want to install new FSO builds, just place the new ones to \freespace2\ and use the Launcher to select the build you want to use. You can remove old builds, but leaving them won't cause any issues, since you can only run one exe at a time and the rest won't do anything during that time.
If you want to install a new Launcher, simply replace the existing Launcher with the new one. Fun 'n easy.
You may want to return to this thread from time to time, since it will always be kept up to date and you can be sure to find working download links for the latest trustworthy FSO builds, Launcher and MediaVPs from this thread.


Other stuff

Installing mods
Installing mods is very much like making love to a beautiful woman installing the MediaVPs. Any reasonably recent mod should contain accurate installation instructions in their release thread, but if this is not the case, or there are some other complications, you can always follow these simple instructions below.
First, create a subfolder \freespace2\modfolder\ for the mod. If, for example, you want to install the excellent Wings of Dawn, create the folder "\freespace2\Wings of Dawn".
Download the mod files.
Place the mod .vp files and other files (readme, mod.ini, bmp pictures) to \freespace2\modfolder\ , or in this example case, \freespace2\Wings of Dawn\ .
Open the Launcher and select the mod folder as your mod the same way you did with the MediaVPs in step 7. In this example case, select \freespace2\Wings of Dawn\ . Note: the mod selector in the Launcher works so that you specifically select thefolder of the mod. You can't and shouldn't try to select specific files.
Click "Apply" at the bottom of the Launcher to apply the changes.
When you start the game, note that you must first go to the Campaign Room and select the correct campaign (in this example case, the Wings of Dawn campaign), because the main FS2 campaign is selected by default.

Using a mod with the MediaVPs
If (and when) you want to use the MediaVPs with another mod, you'll have to create a mod.ini file to the mod folder, unless the mod already contains one. To create a mod.ini file, consult the mod.ini article at the FreeSpace Wiki. Note that using multiple mods may actually be required sometimes: for example, Cardinal Spear requires FSPort, and as such it needs a mod.ini that points to the FSPort folder.


If you encounter problems, please read the stickied Troubleshooting FAQ thread on this board.

If you've spotted typos, errors, out-of-dateness, something that's missing, or if you just think that these instructions suck, tell someone about it. Please don't bother Vader. He really doesn't care.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2011, 12:20:46 am by Goober5000 »