Author Topic: HLP Newsletter - February 2013  (Read 10401 times)

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Offline Axem

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HLP Newsletter - February 2013

Hey sports fans! I bet we all can't wait for the opening tee off for the big hockeyball game this Sunday! I hope that... team that everyone is rooting for wins. Well, enough idle chit chat, January's come and gone and we've had a few campaign releases, some upcoming news and big news about Volition! (No its not FS3)

So the biggest news of January is probably the fact that THQ is now no more and all of its development studios have been sold off. This of course includes Volition, the company that brought us FreeSpace, which was sold to Koch Media for $22 million. Koch Media has had a little experience with space combat with X3, so does that mean we're going to see FreeSpace 3 soon?! Probably... not. The FreeSpace IP is still owned by Interplay. Still, our best wishes to Volition and hope to see lots of fun games continue to roll out from their studio!

Now let's take a look at the happenings around HLP.




War in Heaven - Act 3 Released
The highly anticipated release of Blue Planet: War in Heaven: Act 3: Tenebra: Laporte: Strikes Back: With A Vengeance started the year off with a bang. You can't deny its an impressive piece of work. (Total bias warning: Yes, I helped make it.) The release comes with an updated version of the first part of War in Heaven as well, which requires some custom builds, so be sure to read the instructions carefully!


Inferno: Nostos Release Date Announced
Inferno intends to celebrate their 10th anniversary with a completely overhauled release of Inferno R1. They even gave us a release date of Summer 2013! Lets hope they haven't jinxed it by saying it. But on the other hand, if they really fall behind, they could just claim they meant a southern hemisphere summer and release in December 2013... Be sure to check out the Inferno board for some cool pics of redone ships.


Shadow Genesis Readies for Release
Betrayal has put out the word that he's just finishing up on Shadow Genesis. I've got say I've always been fond of the very pretty screenshots he posts. Let's hope the actual campaign will be just as pretty! He boasts a 45-mission campaign, new ships, achievements and lots more. Also be sure to check out their moddb page!


The Babylon Project Upgrade: Zathras 2.6 Released
Zathras work very hard on Zathras. Completed, yes. Very good. Not like last Zathras, no. This Zathras much better than Zathras.
(I don't have a screenshot for this, can anyone help me with this?)

Triple FSCRP Release
Don't touch that dial! The fine Macfie releases not one but THREE updated vintage campaigns. If you double click now, you'll get two orders, absolutely free! Biowar 1 and 2, Desperate Times, and Technological Superiority: Episode I!
(Or this)

And the valiant Diaspora FREDders have two small releases this month.
A 4-mission Raptor based minicampaign by kedrednael and a mission by woogie which has been described as... a nuke party. Oh dear.

It's only January and we have 1 major release (plus an upgrade) and 2 more with projected release dates for 2013. The outlook is pretty good for this early in the year.




3.6.16 RC1 has been released and it sounds like things are looking up for an actual final 3.6.16 release "soonish". I'm sure some of us are skeptical, we can't release without 57 release candidates, right? (I kid! I kid, because I love) Like I said last month, 3.6.16 is a bugfix release, so to the normal user, things won't really look different and nothing new has been added. But the intrepid coders have been hard at work fixing bugs such as the AI forgetting how to attack subsystems properly... (and this bug has been around for 2 years!) Huh.

Those sneaky coders totally pulled a fast one and released 3.6.16 Final at 11:52pm January 31st CST. DAMN YOU CODERS!

z64555 has begun on a large project to get the mythical wxFRED on track and working. For you guys not in the know, wxFRED is the next generation of FRED, fully multiplatform and, hopefully, easier to work with. Best wishes to z64555 and be sure to have your last will and arrangements made out before you get too deep. You never know when the code will swallow you whole.




joelever's got some nice WIPs going on here. Hope to see these completed soon! His Hyperion and Hammer of God are worth a look if you haven't seen them yet. I'm going to gather these new ships will have named starting with... H...


If you're too impatient to wait for Fate of the Galaxy's take on the Star Wars universe for FreeSpace, warfull has released a modpack full of Star Wars ships. It's got all the iconic ships and some missions to fly in and take out that rebel scum.


Speaking of Star Wars, bobbtmann has made done amazing work on the Home One model for Fate of the Galaxy. Admiral Ackbar surely approves. No traps here.


Parias has started an interesting little project, recreating the Command Briefings with in-game cutscenes. As a big lover of ingame cutscenes, I whole heartedly approve!


Shivan Hunter has made some very nice texturing progress on his modular station. If there's one thing FreeSpace could use more of, its stations. They blow up so nicely.


ShadowWolf has been honing his new modelling skills with his first ever model. TheDagger brings some nice words of wisdom for him and anyone else looking to start modelling or maybe get some nice tricks as well.


And ScoobyDoo keeps on pumping out more and more Wing Commander ships. Dude, take a vacation sometime!





The Aeos Affair is a pretty old campaign. I mean that web design man. In this age of complicated sexps and new completely custom assets, does the mod-less made for retail Aeos Affair still hold relevance to FreeSpace players, or has it been outshone by everything in the last 10 years?

Wow, that's a loaded question. When you play Aeos Affair, you do have to keep in mind that it was made for retail, so we can't really expect a Blue Planet or Diaspora style spectacle. But I feel its still worth a play.

So the campaign starts with... wait for it... an ESCORT MISSION. But it doesn't just give you a plain old boring escort mission. It throws you a bunch of enemy cruisers and corvettes and the firepower to take them all down, provided you use your wingmen wisely. It took me a few runthroughs (and a difficulty decrease) to find the optimum way to kill everything. This was the way things had to be done befor the days of Fury AI, you had to really spam enemy ships on the player to be a real threat to him. Would a mission where a Sobek could handle 3 Molochs fly today? Probably not, but having Molochs and a Sobek engage each other at point blank is not a bad first impression on the player.


You don't need to worry about aiming with all these Shivans around!

There are some rough patches in the campaign, messages that are supposed to come from ships but come from Command, more ships could be marked as an escort to easy identification, a jump node that seems to completely change locations every mission, the ability to completely defuse the dramatic tension of a mission by just shooting off all the beam cannons of a Ravana in the first minute (thanks for the training, BP!). But there are some very nice golden moments. There are three I want to highlight.

First, there's a stealth mission where you have the option of flying a 'stealth Perseus' (well, really, how more stealthy could a glowing blue dart be, anyway?), and there's a remarkable structure that you see when you first arrive.

Spoiler:
It's basically a Knossos (or a subspace rift generator) made out of SFr Dis freighters, all arranged in a circle.

When I saw that, I thought to myself, this is pretty cool. Why didn't I ever think of that? This was before things like easy mod installation and the abundance of custom assets we have. To have real custom assets back then, you needed the player to put the model in his /data/ directory (how many times have you been told NOT to do that these days?), have a new ships.tbl and be completely locked out of multiplayer. Its that sort of imagination and inginuity that really won me over on the campaign. There's a sort of expectation these days that to make a good mission you need new shiny ships to draw in the player. They might help, but using known ships in original ways I think can make everything feel more alive.


Flying with Vasudans, teaming up to kick some Shivan butt!

Another neat mission was a patrol mission around a jump node. You have to make sure no Shivans or pirates are lurking about to screw everyone over. Well, surprise, there are Shivans hiding about, and you need to destroy them before they made it through the jump node. I never thought I would ever be cursing Astroths! Those fragile fighters sure can burn fast. As fustrating as the mission was the first couple of times, I did really like its originality since I do not really recall any other real "chase missions" that I have played (I sort of played with this in JAD2.21 in the race mission, but you weren't trying to kill Delta 1).

The last mission I want to talk about is the final mission. As silly as the premise was, the mission was still quite fun.
Spoiler:
So the GTVA saw a Sathanas warping out in the mission before, and are now surprised that the Sathanas is back killing things (C'mon guys, get it together). So the method to kill the Sathanas without a Colossus? Ram 4 small transports/cruisers filled with helios warheads. I don't know if this would work out well enough in a more structured setting, but points for originality. You've got destroyers beaming the Sath and getting attacked by endless fighter waves and you making sure these weak transports can ram the Sathanas.
Its a good way to do a Battle of Endor, having your large capital ships be your background and atmosphere, while you have a small but critical task.

I think the Aeos Affair is a great campaign to see just how far we've come with our bags of tricks. It's great fun for the people who like to blow up Shivans (I counted 5 destroyed Shivan destroyers + more corvettes/cruisers, and I got promoted twice during my playthrough), as long as you keep "this is a real old campaign" in mind. I feel only recently has the Aeos Affair begun to show its age, and that's only because we've had AI improvements and new ways to handle stealth missions or other concepts. Its good fun, with some original ideas, that's the basis of all of our works, isn't it?

Also, Myrmidons with Helios bombs? What is up with that?



So last month we played a campaign that was basically retail styled. Next month, we're going to get as far away from retail as possible with everybody's favorite sweet talking homicidal AI...

GLA-

-oh, I'm sorry, I almost misread that. Edward. Yes, its The Antagonist. I figure I'll just copy paste Battuta's review and basically take the month off.



I sort of expected more contestants for the contest. Perhaps everyone's been busy working on the new instead of playing the old.

And the WINNER IS...

ssmit132, with a nice late entry of a pic from the Between the Ashes demo.



Cool! ssmit132 gets 1 Axem Point, redeemable for something... sometime, somewhere.

Special mention goes to Dekker for his amusing, but not quite theme related picture...

So, this months theme: BLUE.
The prominent color of your screencap must be BLUE. Tint blue on it if you need to. Screencaps have to come from the engine, no renders! It can be from a released mod, unreleased, super secret ship that you just pull out for this contest.

And I'm going to change a rule from last month. I had said you can enter as many pics are you like, well now I'm going to now ask just 3 pictures per person. I'd like to see what you think are your strongest pics so there's no just posting anything that just seems to be theme related.




Myrmidons with Helios bombs. What is up with that?

« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 07:30:52 pm by Axem »

 

Offline mjn.mixael

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Quote
<MjnMixael> ho baby
<MjnMixael> The Antagonist
<Axem> have you played it?
<MjnMixael> yeah
<MjnMixael> it's fantastic
<Axem> play it again!

Indeed!
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Offline niffiwan

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Myrmidons with Helios bombs. What is up with that?

The bombs are stored flat-packed, and they're rapidly assembled by a nanobot swarm when they exit the launch tubes....

:warp:

ps. great comparison pic there, I hadn't realised how truly crazy it was.  Then again, does the size look OK compared with an Ursa/Sehkmet? :)
Creating a fs2_open.log | Red Alert Bug = Hex Edit | MediaVPs 2014: Bigger HUD gauges | 32bit libs for 64bit Ubuntu
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Offline yuezhi

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
it looked a bit more reasonable before the helios was HTLd.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 01:10:23 am by yuezhi »
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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
So, this months theme: BLUE.
Challenge accepted!

Also: thanks for giving me an excuse to start over (and finish it this time) The Antagonist.

 

Offline Rodo

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
man, the Helios is big.
el hombre vicio...

 

Offline Colonol Dekker

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
[sarcasm]Is the theme blue because of blue planet tenebra release?[/sarcasm]

My work of art got mentioned.

I'm FREAKIN PICASSO!
Your friendly Orestes tactical controller
GO GO DEKKER RANGERSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
President of the Scooby Doo Model Appreciation Society
The only good Zod is a dead Zod
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Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Mah, you took almost 2-years old screenshot for SG :P. They are a lot of cool screenshots on Moddb page...
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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
And I'm going to change a rule from last month. I had said you can enter as many pics are you like, well now I'm going to now ask just 3 pictures per person. I'd like to see what you think are your strongest pics so there's no just posting anything that just seems to be theme related.
Hey, I took about a hundred shots to get my seven submissions! But yeah, it's probably better this way - it'll keep the quality up.

Nice review of the Aeos Affair, too - recalling an ancient campaign like that is a great way to show the progress that the community has made since then.

 

Offline esarai

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Myrmidons with Helios because SURPRISE MOTHER****A!
<Nuclear>   truth: the good samaritan actually checked for proof of citizenship and health insurance
<Axem>   did anyone catch jesus' birth certificate?
<Nuclear>   and jesus didnt actually give the 5000 their fish...he gave it to the romans and let it trickle down
<Axem>and he was totally pro tax breaks
<Axem>he threw out all those tax collectors at the temple
<Nuclear>   he drove a V8 camel too
<Nuclear>   with a sword rack for his fully-automatic daggers

Esarai: hey gaiz, what's a good improvised, final attack for a ship fighting to buy others time to escape to use?
RangerKarl|AtWork: stick your penis in the warp core
DarthGeek: no don't do that
amki: don't EVER do that

 
Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
I remember playing Aeos Affair. I was one of the "hard campaigns" which led to the thrill you would get, when you learned how to and fought your way to beat it. From the very first mission, it I recall correctly.
Without all the fancy stuff now available, back then you had limited assets with out much flexibility. But this is where creativity comes it. Added to that simplicity meant more persons could create missions. Back then a new concept.
You did have to have tables for every custom campaign, and had to swap them every time you started a new campaign. Not necessarily the other assets. But that was just the way it had to be back then. It was a burden but you had to do it. Game crashes had you asking 'Did I forget to swap the tables this time?"
It was a tough, action packed, creative with some new ideas, game; which shows the capabilities of the game engine in the hands of clever designers of that era.

 
Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
I used Myrmidons swarm missiles with Helios a lot for my wing men. I did not realize how impractical it was. But they did kick A**.

 

Offline SypheDMar

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Awesome read. I feel like I'm missing out on a lot now. :(

 

Offline niffiwan

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
I haven't been keeping up with the new models (except Home One) - it was great to see a summary of all the recent releases  :yes:
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Offline Parias

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Wow, I wasn't expecting to actually get a mention - thanks! Maybe I'll get this project back on track after all.

 

Offline Colonol Dekker

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
If it's in the newsletter... It's newsworthy.

So crack on and get that ball rolling again!

[anime motivational speech]
Your friendly Orestes tactical controller
GO GO DEKKER RANGERSSSS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
President of the Scooby Doo Model Appreciation Society
The only good Zod is a dead Zod
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Offline Mongoose

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Don't believe in yourself, believe in the HLP that believes in you!

 

Offline ssmit132

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
*Refrains from making additional TTGL quotes*

I'll have to make sure I keep my new Axem point saved for when I might need it! :)

 

Offline Mongoose

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
Because I am totally on top of things and such, I only finished replaying The Aeos Affair today, so now I get to do my HLP civic duty and post about it.  First off, I think I earn double cool points for this playthrough: not only did I get through the whole thing on Medium, against the advice of the readme, but I also made it halfway through before learning about the 3.6.16 difficulty-scaling bug that had every enemy ship firing at me with Insane-level damage.  And then I proceeded to keep going through it using that build.  Because I'm an idiot.  Even before finding out, it was pretty much sheer dumb luck that I finally managed to make it through that hellish first mission.  Afterwards, there were a few missions where I hit the wall, including the stealth run and supply convoy/Demon assault, but I somehow managed to find a way through each, and the last few missions went surprisingly smoothly.  All of this did have the side-effect of getting me to try to find smarter ways to complete my objectives, and it gives me newfound respect/incredulity for those of you who willingly play on Insane on a regular basis.  I'll never look at Shivan Heavy Lasers the same way again.  :shaking:

So what about the campaign itself?  Well, I think Axem summed most of it up nicely.  It's definitely a product of its age, and it pretty much stays close to the retail FS formula, although with a few little tricks and clever-for-their-time work-arounds that make it stand out a bit.  As Axem noted, much of its vaunted difficulty comes from just how much raw firepower is thrown at the player, which let me tell you becomes even more fun when difficulty scaling is broken.  As for the story, I think it's representative of a trend in either older or less-polished campaigns where the storyline is largely worked around the missions, instead of the story driving what happens in missions...in other words, the designer built a fun escort mission, and then came up with a piece of story fluff to justify it.  That's not saying the story is flat-out bad or anything; it just doesn't really rise above the level of "functional."  There were also a few technical issues with message timing, or the always-loved "hey let's collide at the node while we try to jump out!" problem (hell, even :v: wasn't immune to that :p), but it plays very smoothly overall.

I did want to single out something fun that happened to me during the final mission, which I have to give props for being a BoE type that actually gives the player a crucial task to complete.  I managed to screw something up during my first play-through, so I ran it again, and by some fluke, I didn't have a single allied capital ship die.  I mean, the Orion you launch from is pretty much meant to snuff it, but somehow it got disabled, and so managed to stay out of the enemy's firing arc.  Even better, I only needed two of the kamikaze ships (love the Horsemen motif) to get the job done; the last one just sat there at the end with nothing left to do. :lol: It reminded me of an earlier mission, where you're trying to rescue a cruiser and AWACS ship from behind Shivan lines, and the briefing makes it sound like it's a miracle that both survived.  I don't think I ever had any trouble defending either, but I had to retry it 5 or 6 times to protect the damn Sobek that was the main objective. :p

So overall, The Aeos Affair probably isn't a campaign that I'd willingly replay all that often, but it's certainly worth going through at least once to see what it does well, and most of its missions offer you the flexibility of approaching your objectives in multiple ways.  Good pick, Axem.  And now I finally have the kick in the pants I need to pick up The Antagonist again.

 

Offline Axem

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Re: HLP Newsletter - February 2013
I did want to single out something fun that happened to me during the final mission, which I have to give props for being a BoE type that actually gives the player a crucial task to complete.  I managed to screw something up during my first play-through, so I ran it again, and by some fluke, I didn't have a single allied capital ship die.  I mean, the Orion you launch from is pretty much meant to snuff it, but somehow it got disabled, and so managed to stay out of the enemy's firing arc.

Luuucky! I had to replay that mission a few times, either due to me dying to the shockwaves from the kamikaze ships or the ships dying too soon and not enough damage was done. When I saw the Orion wasn't always dying in the first 2 minutes, I tried to make sure it would live through the mission. Its interesting to see that the mission designer did see that the Orion didn't always bite the dust in the first salvo and turned one of those huge middle flak guns into a BFRed as well. But alas it still died (though it survived pretty long).