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HLP Newsletter - October 2016

Don't be afraid, October is here! The month filled with mysteries, such as "what campaign news is there?", "what new features have been added to FreeSpace?", and "are there skeletons in space?" No one knows for sure, but maybe this newsletter will have a clue or two.

Campaign News

Mjn.mixael  and his team spoil us all with a Between the Ashes PRE-RELEASE! It's got nearly all the files for the full final release, as well as the prologue campaign, fully voice acted and ready for your immediate consumption.

Bryan See seeks to dazzle us all with some video footage of his Shattered Stars mod in action. Come for the beams, stay for the beams, love the beams.

Dukka seeks to revive a mod, Children of Rosenthal, that they last gave an update for nearly three years ago. Lesser men would've given up on things, so kudos to you! Dukka gives us some videos of gameplay and thoughts and feelings about the tricky nature of making new weapons balanced and unique. Also discussed is "throwing around human capital ... Hamfistedly". Good times.

And finally a Wet Orange Ostrich Toilet gives us the hot details on a campaign they're sharing, FreeSpace 2: The Corporate War. It is about two megacorporations have a 'little conflict'. Could this be a space age Cola Wars? Who can say. There is even a screenshot.

Coding News

by niffiwan

Although it's been less busy than last month, there's still a lot of SCP activity with around 80 commits and 51 pull requests merged. Let's see what new goodies have arrived this month...

New Features List (targeting 3.8.0)

  • Add shader caching (m!m) As it says on the tin, caching should (assuming a sufficiently quick disk and a sufficiently complicated shader) speed up the processing of shaders within FSO, i.e. reduce the amount of slow frames that occur when new shaders are required. Neat!
  • Ai chase ship class (Goober5000) New AI orders! This allows the AI to attack all ships of a certain class, which is an AI order used extensively in TIE fighter. Sure it can be hacked around with creative FREDing (or LUA) but it's super neat to have native FSO support, in case someone wanted to reimplement TIE fighter within FSO :D
  • Add script for doing automated performance test (m!m) A nice time saver for a common (ish) requirement to test how a given code branch affects FSO performance. Requires Linux, Python3 & bash
  • Add GPU time tracing to JSON output (m!m) Add GPU time to the current performance data output, useful to see how much FSO is actually using your GPU (historically it's been more CPU constrained, although I don't know if that "village lore" has been challenged after all the recent graphics related changes)
  • Add improved video player (m!m) Did you say H.264 in FSO? ;7  Very nice given the issues I've heard modders have when trying to get acceptable 720p OGG playback
  • Use FFmpeg for audio stream decoding (m!m) Given that we're already using the FFmpeg library for video playback, it makes sense to also use it for audio playback, which will reduce the number of external libraries required (i.e. can remove vorbis & theora libs)
  • Cross compilation fixes (m!m) Pull Request #1000! Achievement ..uh... achieved! And, for an interesting twist, this allow Windows builds to be compiled on Linux.
  • Enable mingw builds & remove boost dep (ashdnazg) Similar to the last item, this allows mingw to compile, as an alternative to using MSVC on Windows (in case there's anyone that still wants to compile FSO on WinXP)

Here's the current bugs scoreboards. Firstly we have Mantis bugs & Github issues, both are about the same as last month:

(Mantis includes 33 feature requests not including HPC)

Next up we have Coverity issues, which remain around the same level as last month.


Following up on last months poll regarding 32bit vs 64bit builds, the results are in and 64bit builds are the new default for nightlies. Again note that this doesn't affect official releases, just nightly builds. 

fightermedic has started a thread to discuss potential changes to the way that FSO handles models maps. There's two main points, essentially that PBR reflection maps have four channels in use which increases the amount of DDS compression artifacts that appear (which might be a contentious point?) and secondly that FSOs handling of normal maps is different to practically all other applications in the CG industry, so maybe with PBR being new we should change to following the rest of the industry. Seems that there's some strong opinions here, so go over, have a read and then post appropriately so that there can be a good discussion about these points.

Iss Mneur has released and new wxLauncher test build, 0.12.0-rc.3. Many thanks to Iss Mneur & jg18 for their contributions to this build. See the post for changes & give it some testing to find any bugs before the 0.12.0 release.

In scripting land, JCDNWarrior has asked about hovertank turret control! Sounds pretty cool, but the lack of replies could mean this isn't simple. If you have any ideas on how to implement this, head on over & post.

X3N0-Life-Form has made more progress on his Ability Management Framework script. All the groundwork is now done, and it seems pretty close to release, very exciting!

Modding News

The HTL Leviathan, redone to an incredible degree! Modelled by Hades, textured by Oddgrim and finished up for PBR textures and conversion by fightermedic. This ship demands you use it in all missions now.

If you thought fightermedic was done there, you're wrong. Fightermedic has also re-released a 'light htl' of the PVF Nefertum, perfect for all your pretty Vasudan ship needs.

Speaking of pretty Vasudan ship needs, Oddgrim is back with a vengeance with the best Bes remodel ever. Here's a fun game to play at home, identify as many faces in the textures as possible!

Raven2001 shows off texturing progress of a large Sol Military Corvette. The real question I want to know is, does it have beams? If so, how many? Do the beams have any friends?

Col Hornet gives us a thrilling texturing update for the EFF Hornet, a very fine looking spaceplane. Since the thread got moved to the Exile subforum, I think you can guess where it will be shining brightly.

Jadehawk has his usual laundry list of model wips. Everything from a Terran fighter to a large collection of Vasudan ships.

Screencap Contest

September's theme was Dogfights. There were several really cool entries. Had to go with...

Darius for this one with a really great composition against a blue planet! (See what I did there?)


Screencap Scoreboard:
Betrayal - 1
Spoon - 2
Black Wolf - 1
Erebus Alpha - 2
Darius - 2
Tomimaki - 1

The new theme for October is Preparing for War.

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.

Are there skeletons in space?

Yes.

(Stay spooky HLP)

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