Author Topic: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)  (Read 678 times)

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RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
My friends, there comes a time in every man's life when he must choose between making a good first impression and actually releasing something this decade.

That time has come. Presenting: the first fourteen missions of The Mantle!

This is what I'm going to call a preliminary release, because that sounds slightly better than "beta". It means that I've checked it over reasonably thoroughly, but nobody's looked at it except me and I can't completely guarantee that it won't shatter into a million pieces when you touch it.

FEATURES:

- Playable character: Amenophis! A calm, experienced Hammer of Light pilot who is kind to his subordinates, and enjoys murdering civilians by the hundreds!

- A surprising number of sentry guns!

- A mission that's actually improved by being set in a nebula! (It's also two and a half minutes long, which helps.)

- Blob turrets that aren't terrible, because their ROF has been increased by a factor of ten! (Yeah, yeah, Procyon Insurgency already did that. But I bet they did it by modifying the tables, rather than by manually using turret-set-rate-of-fire on every turret on every ship in every mission! Pff, casuals.)

- Grammar!

- Long arguments about esoteric fictional theology!

- A Bethesda-tier collection of bugs, probably, because I'm the only person who's tested it!

- Biblical references from the Neon Genesis Evangelion school of symbolism!

- A story that isn't nearly as comedic as this description would indicate!

- A medical ship named the Whorehouse!

REQUIREMENTS:

This campaign uses Blue Planet Complete as a base, so you'll need to have that installed. And the 2014 MediaVPs, by extension. I created and tested it in 3.7.4 and 3.8.0 -- mostly 3.8.0 -- so I would recommend using one of those, if for some reason you weren't to begin with. That should be all you need to run it.

It is highly recommended that you have ingame text-to-speech enable while playing The Mantle.

ACTUAL DESCRIPTION:

The Hammer of Light is reborn. A mere fifty thousand souls; a drop in the bucket of galactic civilization -- but enough. Enough to make a desperate strike, unprepared for the consequences. Lost upon unknown sands, trapped with an armada of gods...drop the scales from your eyes, and fight for survival and faith.

Cleanse the night.

SCREENSHOTS:

Well, my screenarchery leaves something to be desired, I think, but here you go.


A single Vasudan destroyer, alone and in uncharted territory.


The HLD Apocalypse, shrouded in fog, fends off attackers.


A fierce dogfight in a mysterious ship graveyard.


HoL craft evade the enemy near a red giant.

STATUS AND KNOWN ISSUES:

So, this is my first time releasing anything even approaching this size. I have a feeling I might be doing something incorrectly, such as not bug-testing adequately. As for issues, there's one potentially big one: I attempted to run through the campaign with a debug build, but near the end of the first mission, I received an error that caused the game to stop working when I attempted to use the debugger. (For the curious or helpful: the error was "sexp_val != UNINITIALIZED".) I wasn't really able to figure out what was causing it or find any information regarding the error, but it didn't seem to cause any issues when using a normal build, so I carried on (perhaps unwisely).

This campaign is subject to the FSBlue gameplay and balance tweaks. This means that it uses their version of the Prometheus R, which is buffed to be about on par with the Subach. If you're wondering why I felt the need to point that out...well, you'll see.

Oh, and there aren't any briefing icon animation things. Because...who designed that system, and why? What was going through that person's head? Did he harbor an intense hatred of me personally? Anyway. Either I'm severely misunderstanding something, or it's preposterously convoluted and fiddly, and I don't want to deal with it right now. So you're just going to read for now; I apologize.

INSTALLATION:

Should be standard procedure. Download the file, extract into FS2 directory, possibly remove the extraneous shell folder if whatever program you're using created one (i.e. it creates a Mantle folder, which contains a Mantle folder, which then contains the actually data folder and so on. Zip file Matrioska dolls. If you leave it like that, the game won't be able to read it properly.), then just select Mantle from the mod list and you're good to go.

DOWNLOAD:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/vreo28dgrpjold9/Mantle.7z?dl=0

CREDITS:

As mentioned, I used Blue Planet as a base, so credit goes to the BP team for all of that. I didn't use many game assets -- the models are 99% retail -- but the gameplay tweaks are present, and I made use of the soundtrack in leiu of anything more project-unique.

FEEDBACK:

We needs it. We thrives upon it. The more detailed, the better; I'm very very eager to find out what you guys think of this.

*************************************************

Future plans:

So, this is somewhere between one-half and one-quarter of the full Mantle story. I stopped here for now because this was as far as I could go using FRED alone, without making any edits to the tables or using any new assets. I intend to continue working on it, perhaps immediately -- I'd like to add someone to the team; I'll post development and help-wanted threads once I've gotten some early feedback from here, and/or extinguished the apocalyptic code-fires my terrible troubleshooting abilities are likely to cause.

I didn't want to make too much of a fuss or ask anybody to join the project until I had something concrete to show, which is why this hasn't been beta-tested properly yet. Anyway. Download it, play it, have fun if you can, tell me what you think. Simple!

 

Offline Darius

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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
That first mission's a tough one, and it doesn't help that those AAA beams knock out subsystems on the Seth like they're made of tissue.

Having no support ship is a bit fraught with danger, so what I usually do is make certain critical susystems such invulnerable (comms as it allows story chatter to be delivered and engines/nav to let the player warp out in the end).

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
That first mission's a tough one, and it doesn't help that those AAA beams knock out subsystems on the Seth like they're made of tissue.

Having no support ship is a bit fraught with danger, so what I usually do is make certain critical susystems such invulnerable (comms as it allows story chatter to be delivered and engines/nav to let the player warp out in the end).

Yeah, I'll have to do that on my next pass. I'm...not all that sure why I didn't do it already.

I was curious to see just how significant the difference in difficulty is between the mission designer and other players. Looks like it's pretty significant (although I will say that I've died way more times during that mission than I'd care to admit, especially before I nerfed the enemy fighters by removing half their primaries).

Support ships...yeah, I think that's sort of an artifact of my personal playstyle. I don't tend think of not having a support ship as being that big a deal, because I barely ever use them. I'm very frugal with secondaries, and typically if I lose an important subsystem or something like that I'll just restart the mission rather than try to repair in the middle of a battlefield.

 

Offline Darius

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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Initial thoughts:
Cool premise! Vasudan campaigns are always neat and in short supply and I like the atmosphere you've woven. Destroyers, purge my envy :P

I tolerate having to use the Prom R as I see them in the context of the story setting and mission balancing but...I'm really looking forward to upgrading out of those because they are just not working for me. No longer can I destroy my target in a single head-on pass!

 

Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Interesting. I will give this a try :P.
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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
I tolerate having to use the Prom R as I see them in the context of the story setting and mission balancing but...I'm really looking forward to upgrading out of those because they are just not working for me. No longer can I destroy my target in a single head-on pass!

Spoiler alert: you might think that the villain of this campaign is the GTVA, or even the Shivans. It's not.

It's the Prometheus R.

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Congratulations for the release :) I'm quiet busy right now but I hope that one day I'll find time to play this!

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
The story is definitely interesting since we look through the eyes of an HOL pilot. The missions were challenging enough without being the kind which makes you rip your hair out. I only screwed up a few times during the later missions due to bad luck.

However, the dialogue seemed to speed through very quickly, which made it hard for me to read whilst in mission. I found myself looking up to the top left corner of my screen to read what the pilots were saying, rather than right in the center in the BP build. That is never good when fighting shivans.

Other than that, I would like to see this campaign progress :)

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
The story is definitely interesting since we look through the eyes of an HOL pilot. The missions were challenging enough without being the kind which makes you rip your hair out. I only screwed up a few times during the later missions due to bad luck.

However, the dialogue seemed to speed through very quickly, which made it hard for me to read whilst in mission. I found myself looking up to the top left corner of my screen to read what the pilots were saying, rather than right in the center in the BP build. That is never good when fighting shivans.

Other than that, I would like to see this campaign progress :)

Yeah. The reason for that is that while writing most of the dialogue, I didn't understand how the delay function worked, and I didn't want to go back through and set delays for every message if it wasn't absolutely necessary. Enabling text-to-speech fixes the issue, as the message is visible for the amount of time it takes the voice to read it.

Oh, and I'm glad the difficulty worked well for you!

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Oh man. Played through it all. Can't wait for more, this is excellent. I will post some suggestions and bugs I've found when I have some more time to write an essay about that. This campaign is like The Aftermath Reboot in one way: it starts rather slowly and first several missions aren't that great, but at a certain point it gets interesting as hell in a single moment. The campaign also gives me the beautiful vibe of Homesick and Sync a bit, which is absolutely great. Congrats on a half-release, you made a good piece of art!

Bug and annoyance report to follow... soon. :P
Excuse me for any spelling errors I make - I'm still learning English :P

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Oh man. Played through it all. Can't wait for more, this is excellent. I will post some suggestions and bugs I've found when I have some more time to write an essay about that. This campaign is like The Aftermath Reboot in one way: it starts rather slowly and first several missions aren't that great, but at a certain point it gets interesting as hell in a single moment. The campaign also gives me the beautiful vibe of Homesick and Sync a bit, which is absolutely great. Congrats on a half-release, you made a good piece of art!

Bug and annoyance report to follow... soon. :P

Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, the basic idea for this campaign was "Homesick/Sync, but with the Hammer of Light". I think Sync was the very first custom campaign I played, so it made an impression.

And if you're talking about the moment I think you're talking about, that was precisely the intent. (Well, not the part about the first few missions not being that great -- that's probably something I should work on. But that was definitely meant to be a moment where the defecation hits the ventilation and everything changes.)

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Alright, offloading my criticism:

Generally, the campaign is really nice. The things you should take a look into are mostly cosmetic or secondary, but annoying. One is how the dialogue flows - except that you should work on fixing your delays between the messages, but you got that already pointed out. My suggestion is also to chop up missions into battle and dialogue segments, some of them would get a lot better. You'd probably also want to check initial orders for friendly fighter wings, in some missions wingmen were just sitting in a formation with me and I didn't even notice that a few times until "Where is everyone?" crossed my mind and I ordered them to do something.
Thanks to Blue Planet's rebalance, the Prometheus R isn't actually that terrible here. It isn't absolutely unusable as in retail FS2 (and that's how it was like when you released the 1st mission of this campaign somewhere here), but it's still a low-end weapon as it should be. The moment in which I got the Mekhu primary I realised that it isn't actually much better than Prom R. It's an improvement, but not a big one. Harpoons are an awesome thing once one gets them.
One more thing is that in several missions capships are mostly static - no movement, no battle maneuvers, nothing. Like a corvette just standing in one place, offloading its beams and waiting to be killed. By the way, you could also make some better warnings about destroyers jumping in/out, I got rattled or killed a couple of times by that.
This whole campaign painfully reminded me why I didn't like flying most Vasudan strikecraft: primary gun placement is just terrible. It isn't your fault in any case, but I needed to say it somewhere.
By the way, your writing is very good. It makes this campaign great.

Now off to criticise mission design itself:
Spoiler:
M1:
This mission should have been broken into several parts: attack and capture, timekiller of a dialogue, and then repelling GTVA's attackers.
For cosmetic reasons, you could have turned off shockwave on the Ganymede ring.
You could make Actium's approach a little different so it would be more of a threat. By that I mean the ability to fire all of her beams, not only 3 of them. I suggest it should change its path once its frontal/frontal + left beams are down to use the last one. Something like in Delenda Est.

M2:
For some reason, most enemy fighters won't engage when you attack the convoy. They will when fired upon, however.

M3:
This is where my point about static capships should be made.
Orion's beams are so fragile, I'd only want to remind... That ship poses no threat after a couple salvos at its guns.
There's a bug: bombers won't actually clear the station properly and they unleash their payload in such a manner that 90% of it hits the station. Just take a look at that.

M4:
Your naming of jump nodes doesn't make sense... Dialogue indicates that player is heading to Vasuda, but the subspace corridor leads to Capella.
BTW, the music you chose there is just plain great. Really awesome combination of tracks.
Fighters that you can't damage are annoying. Perhaps make them guardianed instead and bugging out if their hull gets too low?

M5:
You receive a message about beta wing getting killed a while before that happens.
Revelation is invulnerable and I don't think that should be the case.
Some messages are coming from "Command", not from the priest from HLD Apocalypse.
I have seen a single spacesuit stay in space after the transport departs.

M6:
I happened to accidentally disable that cruiser, I don't think you expected that outcome there.

M7:
The Apocalypse, that entrance is just awesome!
In order to not use self destruct on the Judge cruiser (or make it less apparent), you can just lower its HP a bit so it could get shot down by a single beam from the Typhoon.
And the Satis freighter got disabled in the mission when I played it, i think that system should be protected.

M8:
Basically everything alright, nothing to mention except dialogue.

M9:
That mission has got a very interesting concept. Not very realistic, though, but still interesting.

M10:
That was a fine battle, but initial orders are to be fixed and... That bomber jump-in stuff is very unobvious to use. I think I'd be better off just having them at the start.

M11:
Some dialogue got messed up there, I suppose. Messages seem to be appearing at a wrong order.

M12:
So this is what you were asking about some time ago. Neat!

M13:
Holy ****, that's an intense battle. You could have suggested no need for using a bomber in the briefing, though. At least if you plan to have the next mission stick around with selectable loadouts, anyway.

M14:
This is an awesome battle. And a very satisfactory one. The only thing I'd be happy to see is having bomber wings distinguishable over fighters. Like "Gamma bombers" instead of just "Gamma". I like to assign a single bomber wing to kill one capship at a time, so this could be helpful.
Excuse me for any spelling errors I make - I'm still learning English :P

 

Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
So... That's what I call My Little Campaign.

(+) ...with crazy but good and pretty immersive dialogues...
(-) Prom R that's pissing me off on every step...
(-) Too much BP music...
(+) Ultra dramatic Typhon entrances...
(-) No nebulae...
(+) No bugs...
(+) And GTM Whorehouse!

Basicly nothing much more to say. Looks like solid, first project of young and aspiring modder. Make bigger delays between messages, and try to avoid long chatter in the middle of the fight. It would benefit from anykind of custom HoL interface, and vasudan HUD.
I will finish my playthrough tomorrow.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 11:34:45 pm by Nyctaeus »
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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Problem Ubuntu 14.04 with 3.7.4 build:

Code: [Select]
ERROR: "weapons.tbl(line 100): Error: Missing required token: [+Bitmap:]. Found [NO ] instead." at parse/parselo.cpp:331
AL lib: ReleaseALC: 1 device not closed
Ideas?

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
@praseodym: Please post your fs2_open.log file.  Instructions on how to do this can be found in this post.
That might come useful.

@Kestrellius by the way, I just love how the last mission shows how much devastation can a destroyer's fighter/bomber complement actually make. What was that, a dozen cruisers, half a dozen corvettes and a couple destroyers massacred only by bombers?
Excuse me for any spelling errors I make - I'm still learning English :P

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Problem Ubuntu 14.04 with 3.7.4 build:

Code: [Select]
ERROR: "weapons.tbl(line 100): Error: Missing required token: [+Bitmap:]. Found [NO ] instead." at parse/parselo.cpp:331
AL lib: ReleaseALC: 1 device not closed
Ideas?

Okay. So...it looks like what's happening is that there's an error in your weapons.tbl file, where there's supposed to be a bitmap file listed for a certain weapon but it isn't there. I'm not sure which weapon this is, because when I looked at line 100 in my weapons.tbl it didn't correspond to a bitmap file. It might be the Mekhu, though, since it's listed right around there.

I doubt this is an issue with Mantle. I didn't touch any of the table files, or anything like that.

Mito: Eight cruisers, four corvettes, and two destroyers, yeah.

Nyctaeus:

Not sure I can do anything about the Prom R. I sort of painted myself into a corner with that one.
The music will almost certainly be replaced in the final release; this was a placeholder.
As for nebulae -- while I've never been a fan of the ALL THE SPACE CLOUDS EVER approach to skybox design, I do want to make new starfields that are more colorful and interesting, so that should work.

[waits for you to finish your playthrough]

In other news, I've been working on some stuff now that I've dived into table editing. I've made separate Hammer variants of the relevant ships, using Galemp's skins for the Typhon and Aten, and modified the glowmaps myself for the others. I'll most likely do an update release sometime soonish that fixes the issues described so far and makes those changes.
« Last Edit: September 25, 2017, 04:06:29 am by Kestrellius »

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Weird. After starting the debugging it seems to work now. Maybe the debugging output helps a bit understanding this behaviour.

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
Hm. Well, I looked through it, but my untrained eye didn't see much...If it's working, though, that's good.

 
Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
So, I'm getting closer to releasing an update. Mito indicated that the bomber jump-plotting mechanic in mission 10 wasn't very intuitive. Anybody have thoughts on that, and how I might improve it? I'd really prefer not to remove it entirely if I can help it...

 

Offline Nyctaeus

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Re: RELEASE: The Mantle, Segment 1 (Preliminary)
I think there are too many directives in this mission. I was focused on disabling beams of enemy ships, and destroying shivan fighters so that jump-plotting remain unnoticed for a long time. I realized that I can call bombers when both Cains were destroyed, and Moloch was about 50%. Still, they saved my ass when Apocalypse appeared.

I wasn't able to finish next mission due to blocked jumpdrive. Rakshasa jumped out, I got the orders to cross the node but I wasn't able to jump. Messages in this mission were somehow chaotic and appearing too fast. Like there is a bug with mission event sequence.
Exile | Shadow Genesis | DA Profile | P3D Profile

MY RELEASED CONTENT SO FAR
Old Conversions | GTSD Anchorage | ORFg Tychicus | GTCa Sagittarius | SCv Scylla | EFC Evangelist | EFFg Solomon | GTL Latona | SC Raguel | PVD Atum | GTCv Eurynome | FractalSpace - Apophysis Skydome Pack | Updated Ancients Models
All of my stuff can be used ONLY in Freespace campaigns and missions.

Veteran modder and graphic designer of all kinds. 3D is my speciality. Feel free to PM me if you looking for a model or other GFX help.