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xx HLP Newsletter - November 2014

November 02, 2014, 08:33:30 pm by Axem

Winter's coming (for us Northern Hemisphere dwellers anyway). So instead of going outside in the chilly weather, why not stay in, all bundled in blankets and play a few FreeSpace campaigns?

So what went on this month at HLP? Let's find out.

Slow month in the campaign business.

Attention playtesters, Rheyah is looking for you! The truth behind all these months of compelling previews for his campaign is just around the bend. Help him by giving him feedback!

I'm looking for a limited number of well worn testers who will be willing to help me push through this and finish off the balancing of my missions.  At present I have around 9 missions with mission designs in place, however I am restricted in that I am unable to look with a fresh perspective at my own mission design.

BTA has another ship preview for his Dusk Wars: Side Arcs. I'll let him fill you in on it.

Constructed in 2328, the Arindam serves as flagship of the 3rd Fleet of Deneb, 1st Battlegroup. Unlike her sisters the Bismarck or Valiant, the Arindam hasn't seen much action following up to the events of 2345.

The Arindam serves as the home ship for the player for the majority of the campaign.  She is under the command of Commander Paul Jackson, and she is home to over 10 different fighter squadrons.

And let's just end this off with an uncovering of some in-progress Blue Planet cutscene retakes!

November, another month and 3.7.2 is still in the RC phase.  Down to 16 mantis issues... at least that's a little bit of progress :nervous:

New Features List!
  • allow sexps which reference sounds to use either the table index or the entry name - Goober5000 & m!m (sound flexibility)
  • Allow fonts to set/change special char indexes - niffiwan (instead of using the defaults for the font being replaced)
  • Allow loading more than 32 modular tables of any type - MageKing17 (unlimited tbm files for all modders! Especially -sct.tbm's!)

Here's the current bugs scoreboard. And ohs noes! Both the bugs on Mantis & Coverity issues have increased last month!
                            |fixed |new |delta |outstanding 
----------------------------|----------   |---------- |----------   |--------------------
Coverity (this month)      |0            |2          |-2           |397                 
----------------------------|----------   |---------- |----------   |--------------------
Mantis (last 30 days)      |6            |8          |-1           |159                 
(Mantis includes 38 feature requests (not including HPC), so outstanding bugs is really 121)

Moving onto other coding and scripting news of interest, new forum user Sanocon has (quite correctly) pointed out some of the deficiencies in the FSO animation code and seems like he may be interested in making some changes in this area. This would be really good, maybe with some collaboration with the guys trying to implement OpenCollda support and/or the PCS2 maintainers. Head on over if you have any words of encouragement or advice.

Swifty has outlined some of the features he'd like to implement after deferred lighting and shadows is completed. It all sounds very exciting, well, except perhaps the OpenGL Core support which while worthwhile is fairly low on the excitement scale. Regardless, if you have some thoughts on graphics changes to FSO, head on over (just don't start asking for the moon-on-a-stick :p)

More towards the support field, Kolgena has discovered that disabling sound fixes certain performance issues in FSO. As the bug seems to be configuration dependant, if you have experienced similar issues go and post what you know in the thread. The more info available, the more likely it is that a coder will be able to figure out a proper solution for this.

FSO is continuing to take over the world be ported to more platforms. This time subliminal has compiled and run FSO on OpenBSD, congratulations, it's great to see another member of the little red daemon family getting some FSO love.

Continuing his work on SEXPs, Karajorma has released two more test builds, strict typing for variables and a beta of the SEXPs collections/containers. Again this is very cool for the advanced FREDers, go forth and test, and create wonderful missions along the way :)

FSO sound has seen some ups and downs in recent... er... well... in the last few years at least. However jg18 has taken on the task of trying to improve the FSO soundscape which is great considering that its one area of the engine which really hasn't changed much since retail. The build requires OpenAL Soft, so if you've already got that installed (i.e. some people on Windows, and all Linux usersr) or don't mind installing it then go give the build a test and provide some feedback.

AdmiralRalwood has continued to tweak his Subspace Beams Strikes code. Now up to 200 portals can open for a given strike allowing the creation of more interesting shapes  :nervous:

Swifty's deferred rendering and shadows is now closer than ever. All the issues reported so fas seem to have been fixed, so if you want to have any input before it goes into trunk (which ok, don't get too excited since 3.7.2 needs to be released 1st!) then head over and give it some testing.

Nebula (website & mod repository) and Knossos (launcher) (from ngld & Hellzed with input from m!m) continue to make good progress. There's a test website available which has some test mods in it. Probably not ready for everyone to jump in and use just yet, but it looks like it's close. Keep up the good work guys, I can't wait for a beta to start!

And to finish off, Scooby Doo has released a new version of his rotation animations script with a small bugfix.

Tython-class Battlecruiser up and running into FreeSpace, so hopefully we'll be see it get released soon enough! I can't wait to see it rip through enemy ships!

UndyingNephalim is continuing some steady progress on their Star Fox: Event Horizon mod. They've posted a pair of new videos showing off some of the characters in the mod! Awesome videos as always!

Over in the Fate of the Galaxy board, rhettro has reported that they've finished UV mapping the Assault Gunboat and is ready to texture that sweet looking fighter. It should be a breeze after the pain that is UV mapping.

Headdie's got some free to use models up in his revamped Polaris Workshop. If you need some tech room models for some guns for your mod, why not take a gander? There's sure to be other neat stuff as he adds more and more!

Scooby's got his usual typical super high quality space fighters. How boring! Where are the space cats? The space rhinos? (I kid of course! Well, maybe except the space cat bit).

Last month we looked at some simple Lua where we just made a SEXP Library. This month we're just going to add on to that same script but introduce hook variables and handles. It's still pretty simple stuff, it just needs a bit of explanation. Next month we'll get into how to have some real fun with Lua!

by mjn.mixael

Last month's theme was Fear.
Slim pickins this month. I thought for sure that 'Fear' would bring out a good number of pics. In the end I liked the complex composition of this entry by AdmiralRalwood.

Screencap Scoreboard:
Ckid - 2
Mpez - 3
AndrewofDoom - 1
tnathan475 - 1
The Hound - 1
Betrayal - 1
AdmiralRalwood - 1
As a reminder, we're going to do things slightly differently this year. Our many campaigns are filled with emotional ups, downs, and/or lackthereof. So we'll highlight that with a whole year's worth of emotional themes. I don't care what's in the image as long as it portrays the particular feeling for the month.
The new theme for November is Wonder.
Watch those HUD gauges (especially that sneaky FPS gauge) and check out the Screencam Script to help you win a badge and bragging rights. You can see the rules and the previous winners here on the Wiki.
11 comments | Write Comment

xx HLP Newsletter - October 2014

October 05, 2014, 05:53:24 pm by Axem
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xx HLP Newsletter - September 2014

September 07, 2014, 08:21:37 pm by Axem
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xx HLP Newsletter - August 2014

August 03, 2014, 08:42:11 pm by Axem

What, July is already gone? Hopefully your summer hasn't been too hot (like a Capellean Supernova) or too cold (like Bosch's heart). Or maybe you're allergic to sunlight like me and just stay in an air-conditioned place all day.

Anyway, let us check out our cool works of art in July.

Lots of neat stuff this month in campaign stuff.

First off, two re-releases of older campaigns. Macfie and the FSCRP team gives us the old standby, the complete 4 part series of the Lightning Marshall, all voiced acted and good for the 2014 MediaVPs! Fly with the GTCv Actium and the Space Cowboys and fight the NTF.

And Cyborg17 has made The Aftermath playable again with the 2014 MediaVPs and the latest version of Blue Planet. This Post-Capella campaign boasts lots of big fleet battles. CT27 says: In my opinion if you liked "Inferno", "Warzone", and/or "Derelict", you'll probably like "The Aftermath."

Sarkoth has started making a new type of campaign listSophrosyne.
Shetland campaign.
Military theorists differentate between the first and second generation of subspace warfare based on tactical decision making and risk-reward strategic management.  Both Terran and Vasudan subspace warfare has evolved since the early days of subspace warfare.  With little real scientific information to go on, the focus of first generation warfare was node control - positioning of vital capital ships in such a way that supply lines remained open at all costs.

TheHound gives us another ship showcase post for his VeniceMirror campaign currently being worked on!

After the Second Shivan incursion, all Alliance engineers agreed that the Hecate failed as a heavy line combatant, and whenever it found itself in direct combat with Shivan forces, it was failing to perform.

That is why GTVA needed a new weapon to face any further Shivan threats, and their joint en-devour developed the Titan.

Diehard FREDder Orph3u5 is back with a new campaign called Of Shivans and Men. Gee, George, I wonder what it's going to be about? Not Vasudans, I guess.
Episode 1 is set in 2328 of the FreeSpace-universe timeline, the chronolical middle of the Terran-Vasudan War. Due to the fact that the Terran-Vasudan War is the longest military conflict in the cannon FreeSpace-universe I wanted to show that as the war drags on, dangerous political movements take hold on both sides; in this instance the rise of a terran supremancy movement (a proto-NTF if you like) which can openly and branzenly display its agenda and it's symbols
JAD2.21. Some of the upgrades are just nicer graphics, but there are some completely new features. One of those is this neat campaign map I designed. Check out the video in the link to see it in action!

by niffiwan
After an error filled coding section in June let's see if I can do better for July!  :D  Last month I said that 3.7.2 RC4 was due "soon".  Well, that's still the case :nervous:  Seriously though, it's much closer now as quite a few mantis tickets in code review have been closed and a few new mainhall features have also gone in. Also, RC4 is likely to be the final RC before final, so when it comes out it can use all the testing it can get to make sure there's no major bugs in 3.7.2 final.
New features!
  • Add ba.getGameDifficulty() scripting function to get the current difficulty level - Axem (more Sexp functionality available in scripting!)
  • Add more functionality to colors.tbl including modular colors table support - MageKing17 (there's a lot more features than this, see mantis 3064 for more details)
  • Removed ship template feature which never worked without crashing - Goober5000 (this is a feature removal rather than an addition - but the feature is believed to have never worked correctly, see Mantis 2064 for more detail, and post in the SCP board if this change has suddenly nuked your lovingly crafted mod!)
  • Turned the required SEXP variable arguments for add-background-bitmap and add-sun-bitmap into optional arguments - zookeeper (you don't have to specify the variable to store the anymore)
  • Allow mainhalls to specify more doors (aka buttons or action areas) and customise what each door does - ngld (this is a big one for mainhall builders, e.g. Axems journal or systemviewer could get their own buttons/doors instead of hijacking the barracks)
  • Add new animations to mainhalls that are drawn after the doors, and add cheat codes to let "misc" animations be swapped - ngld (I've seen Christmas lights over a door on the GTD Krios - just what is going on here pilot!)
  • Upgrade libpng from 1.5.7 to 1.6.12 - Zacam (there's been a few security issues fixed in libpng, so we've updated the version shipped with the FSO code)
  • Upgrade zlib from 1.2.5 to 1.2.8 - Zacam (similar to above except it's bugfixes + enhancements, not security fixes)

Here's the current bugs scoreboard. The bugs on mantis have gone down again along with a few more Coverity fixes being submitted.  Thats what we like to see in a RC phase :) (well, we like to see it anytime of course, but especially during an RC phase)
                        fixed new delta outstanding
Coverity (this month) 14            6          8            399               
Mantis (last 30 days) 22            9          13            163               
(Mantis includes 30 feature requests, so outstanding bugs is really 133)

p.s. This table format has been vaguely bugging me for a while, if anyone knows how to add html features like cell padding and borders, please let me know :)

First up is a bit of a public service annoucment; there's been a recent change to the way that FSO table parses text and quotation marks.  It's now more correct (i.e. matching quote pairs correctly) but unfortunately it means that some tables in mods (including retail!) are now failing to parse correctly (yes, retail data has three non-English lines with 3x double-quotes each :)). So if mod stops working with a recent nightly, it may need a quote fixed up somewhere. (Strictly speaking, this isn't news from this month but its importance wasn't realised last month...)

m!m has updated his Chromium builds again, the process to build your own execs has been streamlined on Windows, and is now possible on Linux.

jg18 is interested in improving the FSO sound code. Pop over to the thread and post about any bugs you think it currently has, or any features that you think it should have.

Axem has updated his Journal + System Viewer combo release. There's a few bugfixes and a ShortTitle's feature, go check it out.

Parias has been diving into FSO LUA scripting with a very interesting goal in mind, multi-player command briefings! He's posted a cool video of this in action.  There's just a few code side things that need to be resolved to have this working smoothly, but it's a very impressive job to work around this limitation with the tools available!

Admiral MS has released a new update to his ship save/load script (also known at the checkpoint script). It should now save/load SEXP controlled variables, so if that sounds like it'll be useful for your mod, go grab it and give it a spin.

The Dagger and the Inferno team give away a super nice Vasudan cruiser, the GVC Selket,  for the community to use in their campaigns. Very nice looking indeed.

Scooby continues his work to super hi-res-ify more Wing Commander ships, and this time he has some demo downloads in addition to some nice new pictures too!

Fightermedic's has shown off some spectacular skyboxes he's made. Words just fail me here, check out his previews and don't drown in drool.

Speaking of drowning in drool, UndyingNephalim has some more new Star Fox goodness with amazing pictures of atmospheric missions and videos of giant robots.

Chinaman brings the Raptor to FreeSpace. Originally modelled by Cool Hands (the same guy that made that crazy MiG fighter that Steve O converted), it has a lot of room for weapons on its wings, making it a fierce looking ship. And who said wings were useless in space!

In the forum far far below, Fate of the Galaxy has some nice updated shots of the greeblings of the Assault Gunboat. Looks great!

Col Hornet also has some incremental updates for his Hera Carrier. I think it looks about ready for some textures now, what do you think?

Bryan See's ever changing Sariel has another revision to it. I guess that what happens when you stick Shivan ships in a blender! Neat concept anyway.

This month's article is about bitwise operations in FRED. They are great for storing a lot of simple information together in a single variable. It just takes a little knowledge of how binary works to be able to understand it.

And karajorma also did a post about how to use the event log to help debug your missions. Is an event firing too early or seemingly never? Use this to help you get a handle on what your events are actually doing.

by mjn.mixael

Last month's theme was Panic.
You know it, I know it... The winner was clear the moment it was posted.

Screencap Scoreboard:
Ckid - 2
Mpez - 2
AndrewofDoom - 1
tnathan475 - 1
The Hound - 1
As a reminder, we're going to do things slightly differently this year. Our many campaigns are filled with emotional ups, downs, and/or lackthereof. So we'll highlight that with a whole year's worth of emotional themes. I don't care what's in the image as long as it portrays the particular feeling for the month.
The new theme for August is Dread.
Watch those HUD gauges (especially that sneaky FPS gauge) and check out the Screencam Script to help you win a badge and bragging rights. You can see the rules and the previous winners here on the Wiki.
21 comments | Write Comment

xx HLP Newsletter - July 2014

July 06, 2014, 04:47:18 pm by Axem

I hope summer is treating everyone well! You know, if outside is too hot and humid, why not stay inside and play some FreeSpace campaigns? With that FreeSpace installer back in action, it's easier than ever to get some nice content.

Admiral Ralwood (aka MageKing17 if you're on IRC) took some time out of his monster bug hunting to make a voice acted demo mission for his personal project, Falcons Strike First.
"It's not very good."

W-wait. That's horrible! Be sure to play it and give him some nice constructive advice!

Hey, you know Inferno? Everyone loves Inferno. You know what everyone else loves? Screenshots. Well lookie here.

I'm content now.

TheHound has some pretty screenshots, and even a bit of fluff text for his Venece Mirror campaign. Like we have this neat little Fenris-like ship.

When LSR risen in Laramis to overthrow the oppressive GTVA goverment, they still lacked numbers, and Midgard was just an answer to this. This ship, nicknamed a "cyan fenris" has been refitted with number of unknown technologies possessed by LSR, and mass produced in their secret shipyard to fill the gaps as screening ships for their battle groups.

Secret shipyards?! Sounds spine-tingly-dingly!

Lepanto gives us an update on his Sophrosyne campaign:
Work on the demo has progressed slower than I'd hoped; motivation has been low, I'm working on other FS and non-FS projects, and building a detailed modpack is tedious. I still hope to release the demo by the end of the month, but no promises.
They seem to understand that I am unlike them.  I have never seen them eat or speak, even to me and yet day after day a receptacle of some foul liquid is brought to my chamber, if you can call this such a place.  The first time, I was forced to choke it down.  Now, as the hours, days and weeks pass me by, I grow accustomed to its taste.  It has a metallic tang to it, much like I imagine a tube of mercury might taste were it not lethal.  I did not ask them for this.  They simply seemed to understand.

Yeah, I don't think I'll be having the soup. Maybe just some chocolate popcorn.

That's more like it.

And in just a interesting 7-year bump to a thread, Fregle compiled a list of chronologically ordered campaigns from the around the Ancient Shivan War to time FreeSpace 2 takes place. Not that you should play them in that order if you're just starting out, but if you've played one campaign there, it might be interesting to play another in the same time frame. See if they connect at all!

by niffiwan
The 3.7.2 Release Candidate (RC) phase is steaming ahead with the release of RC3 this month. RC4 is probably due "soon", we're just seeing if we can get a few more mantis tickets resolved/fixed before its released.
New features! (with a few "big" bugs thrown in)
  • Fix a bug in the when-argument sexp - MageKing17 (also known as the "BP: WIH: Her Finest Hour: artillery bugged out" bug)
  • Fix a bug in the campaign persistent variable code - MageKing17 (also known as the "BP: WIH: Her Finest Hour: too many spaceframes lost" bug)
  • Add support for voice acting in fiction viewer - m!m (now all you need to do is find someone to record the audio!)
  • Added multiple scripting features related to messaging as requested by Axem - m!m (Axem has used these to create a scripted HUD messages gauge, see below for details)
  • Raise MAX_PATH_LEN to 256 so FSO can run in long paths - niffiwan (triggered by the Steam release, this lets FSO run when installed in locations like "Program Files")
  • Fix loadout (Ship/Weapon Select effect) rendering black models or no effect - MageKing17 (fixes a very obvious bug for people with AMD video cards)
  • Fix beam sounds not panning correctly - MageKing17 (this is a bug, but its such a visible one that its worth mentioning here!)
  • Add arg so end-campaign sexp can ignore the death screen - niffiwan (allows a FREDer to prevent the end-campaign sexp from triggering when the player is dead)
  • Fix various issues with ships in nebula - MageKing17 (fixes another very noticeable bug, especially with mediavps_2014)
  • Add a new setting to game_settings.tbl, "$Briefing Window FOV:" under Graphics - The E (allow customisation of the FOV used in briefings; which was recently reverted to its retail value)
  • Allow missions to exit to mainhall on successful completion - niffiwan (this is a small part of something really cool that Axem is cooking up)
  • Text color tags do not work in debriefings. Also allows color spans in text to cover line breaks - MageKing17 (now your debriefs can also look like they have Christmas lights!)
  • Adds new section to game_settings.tbl, "$Disable Hard Coded Message Head Ani Files:" under a new section "#FRED SETTINGS" - FUBAR-BDHR (allow TCs to prevent the FS2 retail head anis from showing in FRED)
  • Allow any resolution for mainhalls - Yarn (HD mainhalls are coming to you soon!)

Here's the current bugs scoreboard. The bugs on mantis have taken a beating - great work! And there have been lots of Coverity issues fixed as well, so it's been a very good month for FSO bugfixing :yes:
                        fixed new delta outstanding
Coverity (this month) 38            6          32            407             
Mantis (last 30 days) 36            20          16            176               
(Mantis includes 34 feature requests, so outstanding bugs is really 142)

DahBlount has put out a call for info from those people using Intel video cards. Historically FSO and Intel haven't played nicely together, Intel OpenGL support has been a bit dodgey in the past and because of this, none (IIRC) of the current SCP coders use an Intel video card. However, recent Intel cards have come a long way so it's good to re-examine the current "prejudice" vs Intel cards to see if the issues are still valid. After all they're still a very widely used video card (bundling them with an excellent CPU will tend to do that :D). Anyway, lots of waffle there, so TLDR; if you're using an Intel video card with FSO, drop by the thread and send DahBlount the fs2_open.log info he's after.

In the news again, DahBlount is continuing to work on the effort to add native DAE support to FSO, see the continuing discussion here.

ngld has returned to continue work on adding features to mainhalls. There's two mantis tickets waiting on some code review prior to being committed. You can see an awesome video of how these features combined with the HD mainhalls from Yarn will look :)

m!m's Chromium builds continue to make progress, adding support for CSS3 3D transforms. There don't seem to be any new screenshots or videos though :p

Achillon has done some work on joystick response curves. Every joystick is different, and gamepads are even more different again. The same response curve can't be optimal for everyone, so this is all about letting people choose their own response curve. (IIRC, Scott Manley in his Diaspora review mentioned that he would have liked to have tweaked the joystick response curve).  Anyway, if you've got a joystick and you feel that FSO isn't treating it right drop by the thread, grab the builds and post some feedback :)
Flaming Sword has updated his performance improvements builds, testing & feedback (as always) would be great.
Swifty has continued his work on deferred lighting and soft shadows and the bugs are being ironed out. Unfortunately it seems that different vendors implementations of OpenGL are not making this an easy process, so always testing & feedback will be appreciated.

Goober5000 has released four updates to the installer this month. Most of them are bugfixes and polish, but standing out is support for mod dependencies. As it sounds, this means that if someone selects a mod that requires mediavps_3612, then they should automatically be installed as well (assuming of course that the installer files are setup correctly). And the installer now handles 7z archives much more efficiently, cutting wait times and bandwidth requirements in half! Super good if you're hosting your mods with limited bandwidth.

Over to scripting, and as I mentioned earlier here's Axems scripted HUD messages gauge. Most obviously it makes the messages much easier to read when you have something like a bright nebula/skybox in the mission backgroud. It also has some extras like being able to control how fast the text is written to the screen. There's a video in the link so go have a look! (soon to be used in at least four mods/TCs that I know of)
In addition to the message gauge, Axem has also released his Journal + System Viewer scripts (available separately or bundled!). These both add a lot of options to flesh out a mods background, and I'm particularly impressed by amount of info that BtA has put into the System Viewer. Again, videos are in the link so go have a look!

Betrayal has some 158th related content going for us this month. First a release of a high detail Evangelist, a carrier with some whirly-spinners (or propellers) for keeping afloat in all that space ether.

And he's also got a mirror up from 158th Exposition content release. There are some neat ships there if you're looking to beef up your own mod pack.

UndyingNephalim gives us an amazing preview for their Star Fox related mod, Event Horizon. It looks amazing and it's great to see some of the content from Shadows of Lylat get reused for this! I can't wait to see what comes from this!

fightermedic has an update to that nifty science ship in their Lego inspired ship building thread. I really love the lighting coming off of those cylinders.

Bryan See has completely overhauled his Shivan Battleship Sabriel, and he's looking for feedback on how to make it look more "shivan". It can definitely be a tricky thing to get down well.

Col. Hornet is back with a slight update on his GTCa Hera carrier. Something about engine flaps. I don't know, my mind was lost just gazing on this beauty of a ship.

Headdie is also back with some updates on his Vega-class Killstorm death-ship. (Class may be slightly exaggerated) Some neat multiparts and greebles are making this a fine looking piece of work.

DahBlount has some pretty nice detailing on his Zephyrus gas miner after Raven gave him some very nice pointers on it.

And then we've got our old pal Scooby, giving all sorts of Wing Commander ships a very nice makeover. They've got landing gear and everything!

This month isn't so much a tutorial as it is a "hey, look what you could do with this for fun." And "this" is simulated-hits, a mostly hidden variable attached to every ship.

Fun with simulated hull!

by mjn.mixael
Last month's theme was Anticipation. This really brought out some creative shots.
I loved this one from the moment I saw it. Hard to say exactly why.. but it just really makes me want to know what happens next!

Screencap Scoreboard:
Ckid - 1
Mpez - 2
AndrewofDoom - 1
tnathan475 - 1
The Hound - 1
As a reminder, we're going to do things slightly differently this year. Our many campaigns are filled with emotional ups, downs, and/or lackthereof. So we'll highlight that with a whole year's worth of emotional themes. I don't care what's in the image as long as it portrays the particular feeling for the month.
The new theme for July is Panic.
Watch those HUD gauges (especially that sneaky FPS gauge) and check out the Screencam Script to help you win a badge and bragging rights. You can see the rules and the previous winners here on the Wiki.
13 comments | Write Comment

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