Author Topic: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault  (Read 1968 times)

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[Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
UPDATE - DEMO RELEASE

This is a short demo for the Wing Commander Vega Assault campaign - a re-imagining of the very first Wing Commander game.
This demo consist of the first two missions - Enyo 1  &  2.

Why this demo?
This is my very first attempt at Freespace 2 modding. With this release I aim to gather valuable feedback in order to learn and to improve.
Am I on the right track? Is there any interesst in a campaign of this style?

How to get & installation instructions
  • Get Knossos: https://fsnebula.org/knossos/
  • Install my mod with this link:
  • Start Wing Commander Vega Assault, open the campaign selection: there should be two entries: "Vega Assault Demo" and "Vega Assault Demo Ironman".
  • Choose one of the and start playing!

There are two verions of the demo: normal and Ironman

Ironman is exactly what it sounds like: if you die (or turn traitor or let the Tiger's Claw be destroyed) your campaign is over.

Failing a mission objectives will not fail the mission.
Pressing Alt-X will activate the emergency ejection ending the mission after 2 seconds. All open objectives will considered failures - but you will survive.
The above is true regardless of Ironman mode.

I appreciate any feedback  :)

In particular:
  • Did you encounter any bugs?
  • Did you came accross any spelling/grammar errors or unwieldy or strange expressions and sentences? (English is not my native language...)
  • Did you find the mission objectives clear? Was there any point where you din't know what to do?
  • Was it, you know, fun? Kinda important :p

I would also like your opinion on the combat and flight model (speed, damage, shields etc.)

I am in particular unsure about one thing: I have deliberately removed any gun convergence. I have my reasons for this but I also found during playtesting that any engagement range beyond "knife fight" is pretty much useless as you wont hit anything.
So if you have opinions on gun convergence, please share!


Known issues:
  • Ignore techroom description for now.
  • Main hall, menus, loading screens etc are WC Saga
  • The command briefing has currently no animations. The text assumes that there ARE animations and I have a good idea of what they should be. But I'm not a visual artist (sadly...) so I've decided to cut them for this demo.
  • I have no fitting generic pilot or generic cap ship head anis that are compatible in style with the pictures used for Maverick, Spirit etc.
  • It's probably for the best if you consider any 2d artwork as WIP or placeholders.
  • There is, obviously, no voice acting.
  • The command briefing was the very first thing I wrote for this mod and I wrote it in german. I really liked how it turned out in german but I hate my english version of it. All other pieces of text are originally written in english. But the comand briefing is a translation and it shows :(


Credits:
  • Wing Commander Saga for providing a base for this mod: lots of base assets like weapon models and effects, as well as some Freding snippets
  • Klav's WC1 Ship Pack: without those there would be no Vega Assault!
  • Big Rocks by Shivan Hunter
  • Wing Commander 1: music, Head anis
  • And a special thanks to Nasa for making awesome planet pictures available to the public!
« Last Edit: May 31, 2022, 12:03:25 pm by Rabenrecht »

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
What can be done about it? Editing the model? How? With what programm? How do I access the model in the .pof? Do I even have the skills? Finding a different model (whould it fit with the rest?)?
Both PCS2 and Pof Tools (which can be found in the FSO Tools subform) can open .pof and let you change some of the specs of the model, but changing the geometry itself will require you to save it as another 3d format (which they can also do) and edit them in a dedicated modeling program, like Blender.

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Thanks for the input and for pointing me to the Tools Forum :-)

Editing models is pushed back far down the backlog for the time being. It is more important to actually creating a mission working with what is there :). Improvements can always be made later. Start small and all that :)

Progress report: creating my mission template is mostly done. Issues I've ran into:
  • The Autopilot stuff surely references specific ships a lot. I can see why in WCS the player wing is always Alpha :P But still, I'm determined to stickt to the "canon" wing names from the WC 1 campaign. Changing the reference name is not complicated, especially if it's the first thing you do. It's just tedious.
  • Question regarding referenced ships in Events: the "compiler" produces a warning when a referenced object does not exist in the mission. But what happens if the referenced object DOES exists but leaves (depart/destroy) during the mission? Say you have an event that if triggered will set the goals for a specific ship. Would the game crash if the ship is already destroyed?

 

Offline starlord

  • 210
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
That sounds great.

Just on top of my head, I think deathsnake made a number of WC1 fan models back in the day, like the Gettysburg cruiser and tolmacs light carrier. Wonder if they are still around…

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Question regarding referenced ships in Events: the "compiler" produces a warning when a referenced object does not exist in the mission. But what happens if the referenced object DOES exists but leaves (depart/destroy) during the mission? Say you have an event that if triggered will set the goals for a specific ship. Would the game crash if the ship is already destroyed?
Doing that is perfectly fine and valid, what matters is that it exists somewhere in the mission file, not that it necessarily be on the field at any particular moment. It depends on the SEXP in question, but most SEXPs will silently do nothing if you attempt to do something to a ship which has left, is yet to arrive, or has been destroyed.

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Just on top of my head, I think deathsnake made a number of WC1 fan models back in the day, like the Gettysburg cruiser and tolmacs light carrier. Wonder if they are still around…

Oooh, a Gettysburg would be neat!
Is deathsnake still active? I could try to PM...

I also noticed that in Klavs model pack there is no Kilrathi Starbase  :(


Doing that is perfectly fine and valid, what matters is that it exists somewhere in the mission file, not that it necessarily be on the field at any particular moment. It depends on the SEXP in question, but most SEXPs will silently do nothing if you attempt to do something to a ship which has left, is yet to arrive, or has been destroyed.

Cool, good to know!


Progress: spend most of the evening fiddeling arround with the mission template. Mostly adjusting the Launch sequence to accomodate the Tiger's Claws slightly different geometry compared to the TCS Hermes. I also changed the launch order so that the players ship is now the last one to exit the Tiger's Claw.


I've now ran into a very annoying and strange issue: after starting the mission one of those incredible WCS briefing cut scenes starts playing.
First I thought "oh right, I created the template mission out of Demo-02-BG-Hermes.fs2 (by opening the mission and "save as"). I just need to remove the reference to this video."

But I have no idea WHERE the reference to this cutscene is stored. I've clicked through all dialogues in fred multiple times: I don't see a reference to a cutscene anywhere.
What I am missing?  :confused:


Edit: nevermind, I've found it  :)
I wasn't aware that a .fs2 is just a text file and that it can contains more information than you can edit in Fred.
« Last Edit: April 13, 2022, 05:29:26 pm by Rabenrecht »

 

Offline starlord

  • 210
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
If not here, you might possibly find him at wcnews.

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Quick update:

I did a LOT of stuff on the weekend, too much to list everyting.

Some highlights:
- added WC 1 music (plus some nice track switching :cool: )
- implemented an Iron Man mode (sadly simply klicking "restart" after you've died probably works, because persistent variables are only saved when you CLOSE the mission, right?)
- working with Backgrounds, plus discovering NASA as a pretty nice source for planet images
- overcame my writers block and wrote the initial Command Briefing (although in german... so I will have to write it again for a public release...) - 10 stages and I'm pretty happy with the result. No anis so far though.

And of course learning learning learning! A week ago I didn't even know how to comfortably move the camera around in Fred :D


Even though right now I have no idea of how far I will ride this project it has been an absolute blast so far.
Given my progress in learning and the successes of achieving immediate goals my spirit and motivation is unbroken - higher even then a week ago  :)

I will probably have a small playable demo consisting of Enyo 1 and Enyo 2  within a week or so from now :)


Anyway, current open fredding questions:
- I have declared an Ambience 2 part in my main soundtrack but it is not playing. I'm pretty sure I followed the instructions to the letter.
- WC Saga uses some kind of conversion factor between Freespace Meters and... whatever unit is used in the WC setting for distances :p - lets call it "klicks". I've determined this factor to be about 6.4 but I don't know where this factor is configured. Although I have no need for changing that factor right now I might want to do so in the future. Any ideas?


Current task:
Yesterday I've largely implemented a model for speed/maneuverability/shield/hit points/weapons.
For this first pass choose to stick as closely as possible to the WC 1 values to recreate that settings reality and feeling. In some some areas I purposfully deviated from it to realise the vision that I have for this mod.
Most importantly, cap ship hitpoints conform more to the model seen in Wing Commander 2 (and most military space shooters for that matter): I've increased the listed armor values for WC 1 ships by one order of magnitude.

In other cases I had to make decisions for any of the following reasons:
- lack of information
- no clear-cut conversion from WC 1 -> FSO
- ambigous information / listed values seem to differ from what can be seen in the actual game

The biggest of those cases, the one I have the highest doubts in my model, are shields and shield regeneration.

Let me elaborate.

First, this is what I have done:

For all ships, take the average of front and aft shields and multiply by 4. That means that any one shield area of a FSO ship has the same strength as any ony shield area of the same ship in its WC 1 stats (assuming same frot/aft shields) - just that the FSO ship has 4 areas while the original has only 2.
- that makes smaller craft in FSO more resilient then in WC 1 (but they loose out a bit when it comes to armor)
- I'm aware that FSO supports any number of shield areas - but you need HUD gauges for them, which I don't have

The real issue now comes with shield regeneration.

Depending on the source shield regenration for WC 1 ships is either listed as "x sec" or "x cm/second".
https://www.wcnews.com/wcpedia/Category:Ships usually has "cm/second" (but not univerally - the Exeter just has "x seconds" - lets call this the "flat rate"
https://www.wcnews.com/ships/ universally has "x sec" - lets call this the "flat time"

Both verions leave out if it applies to each shield area sperately or combined.
Each verions pretty much stand in opposite directions from each other.

To illustrate lets look at at the instances that lie at the extreme ends of the spectrum:
1) the Salthi, with a "10 sec" flat time, or a "10 cm/sec" flat rate, and an average shield of 3.5 cm
2) the Bengal, with a "1 sec" flat time, or a "1 cm/sec" flat rate, and an average shield of 21 cm

Each would have an insanely fast recharge rate under one version, and be tediously slow under the other.

To make matters worse, I don't think either of those is actually true in-game in WC 1.


Still, I had to make decision.

Two further observations:
  • smaller, lighter ships have "higher" values, larger ships have very "low" values
  • older fighter craft has "higher" values, new more modern ships have "lower" values (Salthi and Krant have record "high" values of 10 and 7, the shiny new Rapier has 3)

In the end I went with the "flat time" model. My reasons:
  • Funnels into my "make cap ships great again" goal
  • I can see the logic of larger ships being able to harness more energy, thus enabling better shield regen
  • It makes more sense in my eyes that the newer ships have better shield technology - or rather the Rapier having a really bad shield system does not make sense to me

In addition I decided that the listed recharge time is true for the whole shield. That is, if a Rapier with a 3 sec shield recharge value looses it's complete shield, it takes 3 seconds to have both shield areas back to full strength.
In FSO terms, I decided that it applies to half the shields. That is in the listed recharge time half of the total shield strength will be regenerated. This follows my earlier decision that any one shield area should have the same strength in both games: thus the time to regenerate one shield area should be the same as well.


To put it in game terms the Bengal has a total shield value of 840 and regenerates 420 points per second. A laser deals 18 damage*, a Mass Driver hit deals 30 and a Neutron Gun deals 45**
The effectively makes the Bengal immune to any single fighter.


If that model is a good idea and fun in play is something that will have to reveal itself over time. Right now I'm inclined to try it out.


If you have opinions on that matter, please do not hesitate :)

* that is two projectiles - one only deals 9
** Yes, I've switched those around - it matches the weapons descriptions and justifies the existence of BOTH weapons

 

Offline 0rph3u5

  • 211
  • Oceans rise. Empires fall.
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Quote
(sadly simply klicking "restart" after you've died probably works, because persistent variables are only saved when you CLOSE the mission, right?)

If the variable is "save on mission close" (or something to that effect, been a while) a restart will save the value, as FSO closes and reloads the mission file to effect the reset.

However you need to run the mission in campaign envoirnment for persistent variable to be of consequence, as they are saved as part of the campaign progress.
"As you sought to steal a kingdom for yourself, so must you do again, a thousand times over. For a theft, a true theft, must be practiced to be earned." - The terms of Nyrissa's curse, Pathfinder: Kingmaker

==================

"I am Curiosity, and I've always wondered what would become of you, here at the end of the world." - The Guide/The Curious Other, Othercide

"When you work with water, you have to know and respect it. When you labour to subdue it, you have to understand that one day it may rise up and turn all your labours into nothing. For what is water, which seeks to make all things level, which has no taste or colour of its own, but a liquid form of Nothing?" - Graham Swift, Waterland

"...because they are not Dragons."

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
Yeah, its a Save on Mission Close variable. Thats good news! Then it should work in this case  :)
For some reason I tested it only for non-lethal campaign critical failure conditions (Traitor, Tiger's Claw gets destroyed) and not with dying and immediately restarting.

 
Re: [Dev blog/rambling] Wing Commander Legacy
The demo is comming along. Enyo 1 is finished, Enyo 2 is mostly finished. Still, there is a lot to do:

  • Fix bugs in Enyo 2
    • Autopilot does not work after the Nav1-Nav2 intermission
    • the TCS Shell flies back to Nav 1 after reaching Nav 2
    • Zulu attacks on its own and to early
    • the planet background image vanishes during the Nav 1 autopilot
  • Add mission chatter for the debris field section (Enyo 2)
  • Add an entry to shp.tbm for a porcupine mine "ship"
  • Implement the mine-laying sequence (Enyo 2)
  • Fiddle around with number to make mine-type weapons more usefull/threatening but less annoying
  • write debriefing for Enyo 2
  • create briefing views for Enyo 1 & 2
  • Re-write the command briefing in english
  • Create WC1 era briefing icons
  • Write some generic pilot personas
  • Write persona for Spirit
  • Create AI for Spirit
  • Create "talking head" anims for Spirit, Col. Halcyon and Paladin (still images only) <- most important! It is mostly a matter of understanding HOW to create .ani files
  • Add animations and personas to all messages
  • Create the campaign file for the demo (including campaign logic)
  • Give Enyo 1 & 2 a final polishing run

A plan to dedicate the sunday for modding and I may be able to get everything done. Depends heavily on how much I get stuck on .ani creation.
I am aware of mjn.mixael's tool chain and tutorial. So far I was not successful in using the toolchain :-(
« Last Edit: May 09, 2022, 02:03:35 pm by Rabenrecht »

 
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
Demo release! See updated first post.

 

Offline Admiral Nelson

  • Resurrecter of Campaigns
  • 211
  • The GTA expects that every man will do his duty.
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
Hi Rabenrecht,

I am pleased to see someone finally modding WCSaga.  I have taken the liberty of setting you up with your own mod in Knossos so that your players do not need to resort to a separate download workaround.

The mod is called "Wing Commander Vega Assault", and I have made you an owner of the mod so that you can iterate on it further.  You will see this mod available to you on your "Develop" tab in knossos.  All your files go in a package called core.  This way there is no need to overwrite anything in WC Saga itself.

Install link:

If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting.

 
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
Thank you, Admiral Nelson!  :)

I wasn't very happy with my method of distribution. This is a much better solution  :yes:

I will update the installation instructions in the first post (and on the CIC forums).

 
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
I've updated the Knossos link. The mod is now no longer dependent on FS2 retail.

 

Offline Admiral Nelson

  • Resurrecter of Campaigns
  • 211
  • The GTA expects that every man will do his duty.
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
Some thoughts for you:

I appreciated the old WC ships, music and head anis. These do a great job of setting up the atmosphere. Combat came out good for a demo; see here a small recording of it in 4K:

I did notice that the TCS Shell seems to have some huge value for engine wash; I failed the second mission by flying behind it and being thrown into an asteroid. :) The bitmap used for the laser seems a little hard to see, as you may notice in the video.  There is a lot of talking in your demo which is hard to follow without voice or the use of Axem's message box.  You might want to have a look at Replica Studios for some really high quality TTS to make your demo shine. You can see some Freespace examples using these voices  here and here.
« Last Edit: June 03, 2022, 04:46:52 am by Admiral Nelson »
If a man consults whether he is to fight, when he has the power in his own hands, it is certain that his opinion is against fighting.

 
Re: [Demo Release] Wing Commander Vega Assault
Thank you for the feedback :)

- TCS Shell Engine wash: yep, thats on my ToDo list to fix
- laser bitmaps: do you mean the hardpoint icons? Or the projectiles? In both cases it's the WC Saga base. But I guess changing the projectiles to be slightly bigger and to a brighter more orange-y colore (to match the looks in WC1) could be a good idea.
- Message box, TTS: totally agree that the messages being displayed in the top-left corner is far from ideal. I wasn't aware of Axems message box. But that seems like an immense improvement. I will try to add this to the mod. I will also look into the Replica TTS. The examples sound promising. Thanks for these pointers!


On other notes: there is still something fishy in the mod setup. Starting the mod results in the dreaded "Web cursor bitmap not found" error. I kinda hoped this was just an issue in my machine, but tarus on CIC reported the same.
One thing I will try today is to switch the FOS and WC Saga dependencies around.