Hard Light Productions Forums

Hosted Projects - Non-FreeSpace => FringeSpace => Topic started by: JGZinv on October 16, 2020, 09:04:34 pm

Title: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: JGZinv on October 16, 2020, 09:04:34 pm
Fringespace has become a game project, not a mod project, effective immediately. There is lots of work to do, and most of it will be on the back end in the immediate future, but we have decided to move forward with a complete game and will be utilizing the Unreal Engine for all future development.

Before we say anything else, we want to offer a heartfelt thank you to the FSO/SCP team, Hard Light Productions, and the extended mod community that has graciously given to us over the years. We appreciate you all, and we wouldn’t have got here without your help. We’ve given this move a great deal of thought in the recent past, and while we’ve enjoyed working with FSO, and alongside all of the other mod teams, we’ve finally decided that we just can’t do what we ultimately wanted to do within that platform. FSO is a great project, and we wish every mod which continues to use it all the best.

Tachyon: The Fringe’s multiplayer action is still the best space combat experience ever produced in the history of space simulation. Our ultimate goal is to produce a game with all of those elements, with all the enhancements that modern gaming can offer that experience. Unreal’s multiplayer system can give us everything we want in that regard, and the engine can handle all the visual enhancements that the title has always deserved.

For the immediate future, our plans are to build the framework for Tachyon’s unique flight and combat model. That is what makes the game what it is. We still have the same visual assets, and they will be of use in the future – but the core gameplay, especially the flight model – is of paramount importance.

We thank you all very much for your patience. Small projects like this often take twists and turns with the vicissitudes of life. We hope you will bear with us through this change, and that we’ll see you in the Fringe in the not too distant future.

Just as a personal note – it’s good to be back. As some of you know, I’ve taken a very extended hiatus from the project due to family concerns and job requirements. There has never, ever been anything else like Tachyon: The Fringe. Those of you who know me, know that there are very few people who have loved, or played, this game more than I have. Some of those few have worked with us on this project, and may do so again one day. Whatever else this may be, it has always been a labor of love for me to recreate the best darn game I have ever played.

Again, it’s great to be back in the saddle. I look forward to giving you some progress reports soon. Last, but by no means least – special thanks to JGZinv for keeping the faith for so long, and z64 for his herculean efforts over the years. Everyone owes those two a whole heck of a lot.

I’m back in black – and the Demon Pirate rides again in the Arena. Come get some.

-Joshua “RazorsKiss” Whipps


Greetings space scallywags.

It’s been a while since I wrote an update on the project. This will be a bit long, but very important, so please stick with me.

October has historically been a time of change for the project, we started the last week of September 2006 between just myself and RazorsKiss.
Over time that grew to about 13 members and reduced back down. There were quite a few stumbling blocks along the way. Some of those in our personal lives, and many functional setbacks.

2006 in the game development world might as well be ancient history. When we looked across the landscape there was barely even a handful of options to “mod” Tachyon into. Things we now consider staples of industry like Unity, didn’t start gaining legs under their projects until 2007 or UE in 2009. It was barren territory and a different universe. As you know we settled into the Freespace 2 Open community and worked within that framework ever since.  We’ve had the pleasure and honor of talking to a few of the original Tach devs over the years and I’d like to think we helped our fellow mods at times leading to a positive, if relatively quiet, presence in the community. We’ve been blessed to learn from and work with everyone.

Ultimately however, the last few years we’ve been asking ourselves “where are we and where do we want to go with this?” Around 2016 we honestly stalled. A huge part of that was not having the features we needed to make progress. Can’t finish a HUD, can’t finish a weapon, ship handling, and so on ad infinitum. Coupled with life stuff, hosting being taken away, losing our file management system, it hurt a lot. We backed up everything, so nothing was truly lost, but it’s comparable to being evicted from your house with no notice. You flounder around for a while and have to find yourself again.

So the team has collectively come to a decision, and unlike you often hear with old mods, it’s not us closing down.
We’ve determined to abandon development on the FSO mod, and pursue Unreal Engine two ways.

First, UE is now a very mature engine that several other space games have used over time. It practically has a feature for everything, and the forthcoming enhancements make us all that much more excited for it. We have always firmly believed Tachyon has the best and most fun flight model, and it deserves a true high fidelity, complex world, continuation. We’re also aware THQNordic now has a presence in the USA, and when they purchased Novalogic’s assets they called for project proposals for those licenses. If there is any chance at the project going commercial, becoming official, it has to be done on a licensable engine.

Make no mistake, we’re keenly aware this tantamount to starting over, and reinventing the wheel because UE is a toolset. It’s not pre-set for being a space sim. It’s a cold, empty universe, with an instruction set on how to code DNA left behind by the code gods.

To see the ultimate vision we wanted to in 2006 however, it’s a necessary leap of faith. We’re also more experienced now than a couple of fresh-faced mod noobs in 2006. Those years were not a waste.

Secondly, we have a sub-goal we hope will benefit all space sim fans. Again it’s 2020, when we looked at alternatives to going to UE there isn’t much out there that’s moddable. So much now is games as a service, or locked down like Squadrons, or dead because it is so old/inflexible. Before we load in the Tachyon assets and approach THQ, we intend to build up the various base features that all space sims have needed. This sounds like a ton of work, but really there is a great deal of crossover when you start making a list. We want to document this and offer it as a prepared mod kit to the world to spur space sim development. The bottom line is that we’ll have to largely build this anyway, to make Tachyon. It’s a waypoint on the roadmap.

Are we any less ambitious or crazy than when we started? Nope.

We do however have some renewed vigor in the direction we want to go and some hope for where we are taking things. We also anticipate we’ll have an easier time recruiting for the project with this path as well.

Support that I’ve offered over the years for Tachyon will continue. Believe it or not we are still able to host public games ourselves 21 years later.

If you’d like to help us with the project in any capacity, please join us on our Discord. https://discord.gg/0VT8HgdsF0nTsRAH (https://discord.gg/0VT8HgdsF0nTsRAH)
If you can’t contribute like that, feel free to drop by to chat, or join us for a game in Tach for old time’s sake. Emotional / fan support is still support, and plenty appreciated.

So FringeSpace is here to stay, and we look forward to opening that megagate to an even more amazing universe for you.

Thanks for sticking with us on this journey.

~ JGZinv

Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: JGZinv on October 16, 2020, 09:40:57 pm
As sort of follow up unique to HLP because this is obviously hosted here on the forum.  We've made the request to have this board moved to be part of the Non-FreeSpace section.
If that is not okay, we've backed up all the posts (there's a substantial number of posts in the private staff section).

If your concern is assets of FS2/FSO, we will not be using those in either final product. I have a hard time seeing where even as a placeholder we'd want/try to use something there.
Roids for example are really different, there's poly differences, texturing limit differences, etc etc.  Rather than get into licensing or anything it's easier just to use/make new.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: starlord on October 19, 2020, 10:55:32 am
Best of luck in any case.

I say it would be great to keep some assets running in the Scp engine though, if only for user campaign creation, which might be less easy in unreal.

For instance, I’d love to see a star patrol centric campaign one day. Still remember that old vid you posted of a star patrol cruiser blowing up.

Congrats on keeping tachyon alive though. This game is great.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: Nightmare on October 19, 2020, 12:16:36 pm
Good luck with this, even though I'm saddend a bit that it's a project less with FSO~ :)

Just a side question as I know next to nothing about Tachyon, but was the "Space" at the end more of a referrence to FSO? If yes you could probably get a new name too.

But most importantly, what are the chances of this becoming commercial? I do not know which position the publisher holds on this, but the last thing you need after going to such lengths is to ask them and instead of an approval you'd get not only a "no" but a C&D.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: Novachen on October 19, 2020, 01:59:39 pm
Well, from a multiplayer perspective i think, that Unreal Engine is a much better choice than FSO.
FreeSpace's multiplayer was always way too different to Tachyon's IMO.

Would still like to see a Tachyon Standalone with Single Player focus, though. Maybe Bruce Campbell can be hired for a few lines for a small tip  :D
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: RazorsKiss on October 19, 2020, 02:44:05 pm
starlord: We're focusing mostly on multiplayer. We will, of course, keep your suggestion in mind.

Nightmare: It's a play on FS2 to some degree, certainly - but the "Fringe" is the fringe of civilized space - so we thought it was an amusing pun. It is, after all, a space sim :) As for commercial issues - we're a long way away from getting into that. However, if we do go that route, it will only be with the blessings (and, we hope, publishing) of the IP owner, should we end up developing a commercial sequel to T:TF. The IP owner has no current plans to do anything else with this particular IP, to the best of our knowledge. if we don't, there are a variety of options for having a game that *plays like* Tach, but isn't Tach. We'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

Novachen: While we're focusing on Multi, (and we agree that UE is the best MP choice) a campaign isn't out of the picture. That we can build to our own specifications from the ground up as far as ship behaviors, weapons functionality and UI go, especially, is also one big reason we are going this route. As for voice acting, etc, I think we'll see once we get to that point. Jake would be an old dude by now. We certainly are!

As the announcement said, however, our immediate plans are to build a modular framework for a variety of different space sim types - then we'll worry about populating it with our particular flight & combat model, and optimizing our unique assets to use it. We won't be at the production stages of our particular game for a while yet.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: JGZinv on October 19, 2020, 08:51:13 pm
To elaborate a bit on what RK said.  THQNordic bought out Novalogic some years back now. At the time they said they were looking for game proposals on any of the licenses they had acquired.
Tachyon was one of those, to a degree I think it's more well known than F22, but not as much as maybe Comanche or Delta Force.

Now when that went out, I tried to inquire of THQNordic. I got no reply.   I have tried again in the last few days because we had an offer of the source code for Tachyon being given to us on the contingency that THQ allows it.  I'll wait a few more days and then instead of hitting their HQ I'll start poking the very new New York branch of the company. I may start sending mail after that.
Generally, THQNordic has had a ok relationship with modders and the community from what I've observed.  Novalogic was just a void.

As RK said we're first going to build up this framework. Basically make a UE Flight Combat Starter Kit, and then we'll push as needed to determine the status of the license. If THQ doesn't want us at that point, when we'll have released such a kit and can show what we're looking at doing, then I don't think they ever will budge. If that's the case we'll do something without the Tachyon IP. We'd rather not, but at that point it's just a impasse wall.

Bruce is very picky it seems with what he does nowadays. I get it why everyone wants him back, but it could come down to an impersonator.  I had an idea for a campaign dlc that revolved around Redship Rory's son, so I think there are plenty of other stories in the Fringe. The fanfic section here is also indicative of that.

I'm not trying to slam what has been achieved with FSO over the years, but yes multiplayer was a major factor in the decision along with other things we just couldn't make.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: Androgeos Exeunt on October 19, 2020, 10:45:25 pm
You might want to update the board description while you're at it. ;)
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: Nightmare on October 20, 2020, 05:40:57 am
So, what's the asset status for this? I mean the difference between "we, the fans, make a modern version of a protect IP" and "we, gamedevs, make something that we could sell without IP problems" is basically creating a complete new pool of assets.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: RazorsKiss on October 20, 2020, 05:56:19 am
You might want to update the board description while you're at it. ;)

Couldn't find the menu to do that when we looked the other day.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: RazorsKiss on October 20, 2020, 06:30:55 am
So, what's the asset status for this? I mean the difference between "we, the fans, make a modern version of a protect IP" and "we, gamedevs, make something that we could sell without IP problems" is basically creating a complete new pool of assets.
Well, we're working on the portion that needs no additional 3d assets, but needs to be done regardless as our next step. We're also working on the portion that has no IP difficulties attached to it, and absolutely needs to be done in order to use any of our already-completed assets, since we've already started over from scratch anyway, as far as the flight & combat model goes. What we don't have to start over with is all the meticulous tests JGZinv did that gives us all the precise values for each ship's flight characteristics - and a knowledge that we absolutely can duplicate all of those characteristics in the current engine. That does a lot for morale right there. We don't know how THQ is going to react until we have something to show them. What we have is 3D assets and a flight/combat model that won't ever behave much more like Tachyon, as it stands. The idea is to get a game that flies and fights like Tachyon - and since we've deemed that to require a commercial engine, we may as well try for the whole enchilada. We were fine with sticking to an open-source fan mod as long as we thought FSO could do what we wanted - but since it can't, and since we're in a commercial engine now, we're going to give it a shot - once we have something to show. Until then, we have a whole lot of maybe-they'll-work-in-a-modern-game-but-we-aren't-holding-our-breath assets that aren't currently relevant, but are in our back pocket for later use in, say, a Demo. We have nearly a dozen fighters, a capship, all our weapons, powerups, multiple environmental models, and at least one station model completed. We're already at a playable Alpha stage as far as those go - and have been for nearly ten years, for what that's worth.

We will have something that flies and fights like Tach, no matter what happens. This general branching of routes has been a contingency plan all along.  We're just coming to it a lot later than we originally planned. We have several bridges in view up the road - but we'll cross them when we come to them. We are aware that there's a possibility that we'll need all new 3d assets, even if we do get the license - because we did most of them, if not all of them, over a decade ago. C'est la vie.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: MP-Ryan on October 20, 2020, 12:34:22 pm
If you fellows want to change the board description, I think you need to message one of the site admins.  Try Axem, karajorma, Sandwich, Goober, Zacam, or Fineus - they've all logged in somewhat recently.
Title: Re: FringeSpace Moves to the Unreal Engine
Post by: RazorsKiss on October 20, 2020, 01:39:25 pm
Makes sense, thanks.