Flat Universe on Mission Design

The Maslas Brothers have again taken to the forums to answer questions from fans, this time focusing on map design. The playing field in Flat Universe is made up of distinct scenes or maps, interconnected through jump points. Each map can have any number of hotspots, such as space stations or asteroid fields, and missions may span multiple maps. You can grab the latest playable alpha version from the project website and keep track of development news through twitter.

Well lets see... Maps and Mission Design

Our game is build in a similar way to the open universe of Privateer. We have a group of interconnected systems each one being a scene (that's a map). Each system has no boundaries but it has some static points of interest (e.g. jump points, asteroid fields, mine fields, star bases, refueling depots). Each jump point connects on scene with the other. One of the things we currently build is the NAV/Goals/Jump system. Of course the system won't be fully operational if we won't also finish with the auto-pilot system.

When everything is ready if you have any jump capable ship in any mission you can simple go to the jump point, hit j and there you go to the next system. That's the purpose of, at the moment useless free-flight mode: to test intersystem flights or just have fun jumping around....

Now mission design. In our mission design concept the designer can use either the static nav/jump points, add custom nav points or any mix of the two. Additionally a mission is not limited in any system. You can design a simple mission at the edge of a system or a complex mission that spans all the systems in the game. There is no limit. Now through the editor/config files you can add any objects you like (fighters, cap ships, asteroid/mine fields, whatever) in any system, mark mission specific options/goals to these objects, fill in briefings/debriefings and link to the next mission(s) in the campaign and you are done.

Finally the open source mission editor it is not a bad idea. We would design the text/XML/whatever config file and build the mission editor on that.

New WC Saga Tools Released To Assist Pilots

Luke has created two more useful tools to help both players and modders of WC Saga. WCS Base Extract is a utility that unpacks Saga files as a first step towards creating new missions in the game. Mouse Trap improves control for pilots who fly with a mouse. Further background info and complete instructions are available through the forums linked below.
WCS Base Auto Extract (Download)

Do you want to change something at mod level or do you plan to create your own WCS missions or campaign or do you simply want a look behind the scenes? Then WCS Base Extract is a good start to first unpack all WCS content very easy and very fast. It supports the original VP's with the officially WCS patch 1.1.0.7822.

WCS Mouse Trap (Download)

You want to play WCS in window mode and you fly with mouse, but you irritated about lost mouse focus during gameplay? WCS Mouse Trap solves this problem simple and comfortable.

WC Film Project Energizes Next Generation of Gamers

Mike Peters is a high school teacher and a huge Wing Commander fan. For an exciting summer project, he's working with his students to put together a fun film series. They've already started on the story, which will center on Colonel Halcyon and Commodore/Admiral Tolwyn prior to the events of WC1. A model Tiger's Claw has also come together very quickly in the past week or so. Based on how fast it was assembled, they should be able to build the rest of their planned fleet in no time! We're looking forward to seeing what they come up with next. You can follow the development of their project, Wing Commander Vega, at their new blog here.
I need to make another one. She looks pretty beat up. Maybe this will be the Claw from the third season, after it’s been around the Kilrathi block a few times. Just from the things I learned from the problems I had making this one, I can make another that looks 100 times better. For example, spray paint eats through foam like xenomorph blood eats through a starship bulkhead? I nearly lost the entire flight deck. (That’s why there’s paper over it in the above pics.) After a plaster reconstruction, she was ready to receive flights again.

You get the idea, but with a gal this pretty, it’s hard to stop taking pictures. (Said in an Old-Timey Sea Dog accent!)

My film degree is 15 years old, from the days when 3D rendering was a distant dream-right up there with flying cars. When I was little, my wish-job was to work for Hasbro and write for G.I.Joe. That didn’t happen, but building this Tiger’s Claw has made me realize how much fun making my own toys IS! It is fun, but a lot of waiting. Wait for the plaster to dry. Wait for the paint to dry. Anyway, here are some stills of the Tiger’s Claw at the shipyards.

Wing Commander Added to Origin Humble Bundle

Last week's leak about the Origin Humble Bundle has been officially announced! The baseline bundle with Dragon Age, Peggle, Dead Space 2, Medal of Honor and C&C Generals is available at any price, but gamers who pay more than the average unlock eight additional titles, including Wing Commander 3&4, Sim City 2000 and Ultima 7. The average is currently just $4.93. Then your entire purchase price goes to charity! Grab the bundle here.
We are seven days into the Humble Origin Bundle 2, and are already blown away by the amazing generosity from the gaming community all over the Globe. So far, gamers have picked up 395,000 bundles, and raised $1.9 million for charity! You're all amazing, and together we're well on our way to raising a ton of money for Girls Who Code, The V-Foundation, and buildOn.

As amazing as the first week has been, we’re not done yet. It’s time to sweeten the deal: As of today, we’ve added four more games to the Humble Origin Bundle 2, bringing the bundle up to 13 awesome games! To see the full bundle (and to get one for yourself!), head on over to humblebundle.com.

New to the bundle are the space sim epics Wing Commander III and IV, the legendary city-builder SimCity 2000, and the classic Richard Garriott RPG Ultima VII. If you previously purchased the beat the average tier of Humble Origin Bundle 2, these titles are automatically yours at no additional cost!

It's Hip To Be Square

We haven't heard much on Ron B's WC strategy game lately, but he's back now with an update. The biggest change is that the hex-based space grids have been turned into squares to streamline development. Other aspects of the project have been coming along well, so he actually expects to be able to share a playable test release soon. The new screenshots below show off the game in its current form. It seems to be shaping up nicely!
Some screenshots just to show the progress. More coming soon. I'm very excited to get your reactions!

New Utility Boosts Prophecy & Secret Ops Framerate

gr1mre4per has put together a neat new upgrade patch for Wing Commander Prophecy & Secret Ops. There are patches that upgrade the video to DVD quality, enable OpenGL graphics support and even add multiplayer, but the game is still locked at 32 frames per second. grim's patch updates the Prophecy or Secret Ops executable to run at any custom refresh rate, although 60 seems to work the best and provides nice and smooth motion. wcnut reports that it functions on a Mac with a wine wrapper, and it should also be compatible with Standoff or Unknown Enemy. Grab the patch (90 k zip) and test it out for yourself, and let everyone know how it works at the CIC Forums!
For a short time I've been teaching my self some coding with C++. Using HCl's fantastic site as a source of information, I made myself a few little tools. Although some of these were previously available, I wanted to make my own as a kind of 'proof I can' type thing. I made myself an IFF compiler/decompiler for any IFF file and a TRE/PAK un'pak-er' for Privateer. I've also extracted almost all of Prophecy's ship models, all detail levels, including many some people may have never seen (or may have, I'm a little out-of-date here). I'll create a separate thread for that soon.

But the one I want to give out now is a Frame Rate booster for Prophecy. By default, Prophecy runs at a fixed 32 Frames Per Second. I wanted to see if I could change it to increase it. Now I have, I put this tool together to make it easy for everyone to do. The advantage is that space flight looks and feels a lot smoother.

The tool has some pre-set levels and a custom level (limited between 15 and 1000). In most situations, 60 is enough as by default the game runs with Vertical Sync enabled, which synchronises to the monitor refresh rate, which is usually 60 Hz, so maximum 60 FPS possible.

It is possible to force V-SYNC off in most graphics drivers. This allows much higher frame rates. But this does start introducing some problems when the frame rate gets above 100. Some animations, such as shields, will happen quicker, sometimes to the point you don't even see them. Also COMMS can sometimes stutter. My personal favourite is asteroids will rotate stupidly fast. But for the most part, there are no adverse effects in game play and V-SYNC is better left on for the smoothest results.

I have tested the tool with Prophecy and both the web-downloaded and Prophecy Gold Secret Ops versions (they are slightly different) and it works on all of them. It should also work on Standoff, UE and other mods, but this is untested. I am also not sure if it will affect the multiplayer enhancement.

I hope you enjoy it.

Rapier + Ninja = Boulder Blaster

Wojo is well known as an aficionado of the WC Movie's Rapier I fighter. Recently he was shocked to see one Lego's latest toys, the Ninjago Boulder Blaster. It's a cylindrical fighter with a big rotary cannon for a nose. There are also smallish downward facing wings below the cockpit and raised horizontal stabilizers in the rear. The resemblance is uncanny - it almost looks more like a Rapier than the time a Wingnut made a Rapier out of Legos!
Just saw this on a tv ad... sat bolt upright!

New Preview Features Wing Commander Star

Many of you have already seen it, but a hot new video is exploding across the internet. Wing Commander's Malcolm McDowell has been made the new spokesman for Lunchables Uploaded, but he's not a great fit. His hilarious new commercial is below. Thanks to Whistler for the tip. Oh yeah, Christopher Blair narrates a new Star Wars trailer that just came out too.
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