Confederation

Yeah, the motivation for sharing the loading code isn't just for us but every project. I think the closed source nature of the WC fan modding has really hurt how active the scene is compared to some other communities.

When I started this project I assumed it would be a lot easier than it was, there was code that I thought was a solved problem but HCl hadn't released the code. The existence of a mission editor meant I expected some documentation in that area, but it's all been from the ground up.
Reverse engineering the TRE compression I know has been done 3 times for 3 projects all in the space of the past few years.
 
I'm absolutely building on the work of the community - even the closed-source stuff has been tremendously helpful...
That's great to know. Just with the talk about open-source publication, I wasn't sure how much you had used from previous efforts.

I think the closed source nature of the WC fan modding has really hurt how active the scene is compared to some other communities.
At least from my perspective, the concept of sharing efforts in open-source is a relatively recent idea. Most people just want the binaries to use so it sort of made sense that only those get published. And platforms making sharing and maintenance of source code, I feel that has only really become popular recently (or maybe I've only become aware of them recently, as in 2010s).

Better late than never, I suppose.
 
At least from my perspective, the concept of sharing efforts in open-source is a relatively recent idea. Most people just want the binaries to use so it sort of made sense that only those get published. And platforms making sharing and maintenance of source code, I feel that has only really become popular recently (or maybe I've only become aware of them recently, as in 2010s).

I think the popularity of collaborative development is pretty new; but I just mean documentation and source. And to be fair HCl, Thomas Bruckner etc they did document some of what they did, but far from all - since neither are active now that's a real shame.
 
Collaborative development has certainly been made much more accessible; I think github can probably take a big chunk of the credit for that. The old days of mailing lists and such in the 90's and 00's (and still persisting in many older projects) made getting involved much more intimidating I feel, apart from just being much harder to keep track of everything...

Speaking of collaboration... Tapping into my excitement for the prospect of custom campaigns in Confederation eventually - but mostly for fun - I asked EmuMusicFan if I could have a quick go at colouring some of his awesome artwork in something approaching WC2 style ... or as close as I could manage anyway. :D So here's my attempt at Hobbes, around 10 years younger than when we see him in WC2, during his interrogation (based on page 2 here):

Ralgha-Test-11-Game.png


Slightly expanded version:

Ralgha-Test-11.png

I just took a guess at much of the colouring where I couldn't take cues from WC2 itself, but I had fun doing it. :)
 
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Thanks! Yeah I need more practise in general, but specifically in controlling my urge to add random dithering... :D The original WC2 art has (to my eye) really precise use of colour banding and subtle dithering. Hopefully I can get closer bit by bit... :)
 
Thanks! Yeah I need more practise in general, but specifically in controlling my urge to add random dithering... :D The original WC2 art has (to my eye) really precise use of colour banding and subtle dithering. Hopefully I can get closer bit by bit... :)

Creating a filter mimicking aggressive RLE might get you very close very easily; just make lines as long as you can where the source only very similar hues.
 
Thanks! Yeah I need more practise in general, but specifically in controlling my urge to add random dithering... :D The original WC2 art has (to my eye) really precise use of colour banding and subtle dithering. Hopefully I can get closer bit by bit... :)
Yeah! That gradient + dithering was a hallmark of artwork made with Deluxe Paint on the Amiga. You can check out the original history and tool here:
and a python remake here:
 
The original WC2 art has (to my eye) really precise use of colour banding and subtle dithering.
Yeah, it's a bit of a mix. In Thrakhath's sprite below there's dithering applied to his shoulder armour pieces but the red cape has clear colour banding.
 

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That gradient + dithering was a hallmark of artwork made with Deluxe Paint on the Amiga.
Awesome, I'll have to check out the remake!

Upon a bit more of a review there's more variation in WC2 than I'd really fully appreciated - especially in the backdrops. From left to right:

wc2-dithers.png

  1. Looks like classic algorithmic dithering; this was the only instance I noticed though...
  2. This looks done by hand to me; unless Deluxe Paint has automatic dithering that looks like this? :eek:
  3. A 3D render, squashed to the colour palette.
  4. A mix of 3D rendering and manual(?) dithering - seems like there was a fair bit of touching up, but not everywhere.
I already knew that the use of 3D renders would be a problem in making widescreen extensions for WC2, but yeah... It'll be interesting. :D
 
I must say that I expect a lot from this project.
For me, Privateer is the only game that has the perfect balance between mission gain and ship maintenance, diversity of freelance missions, not to mention that there are any more dangerous asteroid fields in gaming.
I've been trying to mod a little Privateer Gemini Gold for years, but without finding that perfect balance and, above all, keeping the visual touch of Wing Commander.
So a "mod" with a slightly better resolution and the ability to customize the base images a bit, and it's a win.
 
I mentioned a few posts back that I was looking at voxel conversion as a potential option for adding full 3D rotation to the original 2D sprites. My early tests are pretty positive; here's an early (pretty rough) test of the WC1 Dralthi, converted (manually) to voxels from the original sprites:

wc1-voxel-dralthi-test-02.gif


Each one seems like it will take a fair chunk of work, but it seems far from a prohibitive amount... Some will certainly be more difficult than others though.
 
I think the popularity of collaborative development is pretty new; but I just mean documentation and source. And to be fair HCl, Thomas Bruckner etc they did document some of what they did, but far from all - since neither are active now that's a real shame.
I guess at the time there just wasn't the incentive. They didn't think that what they were doing was of more than academic interest and the idea that you could use them to recreate the engine was farfetched, years before OpenXCom and Rollercoaster Tycoon. And I've found in general that a lot of artistic and technical people tend to undervalue their own achievements or not archive them properly
 
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Awesome, I'll have to check out the remake!

Upon a bit more of a review there's more variation in WC2 than I'd really fully appreciated - especially in the backdrops. From left to right:

View attachment 13243
  1. Looks like classic algorithmic dithering; this was the only instance I noticed though...
  2. This looks done by hand to me; unless Deluxe Paint has automatic dithering that looks like this? :eek:
  3. A 3D render, squashed to the colour palette.
  4. A mix of 3D rendering and manual(?) dithering - seems like there was a fair bit of touching up, but not everywhere.
I already knew that the use of 3D renders would be a problem in making widescreen extensions for WC2, but yeah... It'll be interesting. :D
We know that Wing Commander 2 used 3D renders for most of the interior scenes, the Bridge, Briefing room, Hangar Bays, Thrakhath's ship and the Comms room. We even have most of the models. But there are many scenes were we don't have the original 3D art assuming it wasn't hand drawn. Privateer is basically all 3D renders with some 2D drawing layered on top for the people.

An open toolkit for Wing Commander is very exciting, if I could have one wishlist feature it'd be a model and texture importer/exporter for the Armada/WC3/4 IFF formats. We used to have tools to do that, but they got lost when HCL's site got moved to a new server around 2001. Thomas Bruckner and HCL combined had a toolkit for converting ships from Armada/3/4 to Prophecy and a Prophecy to standard industry 3D format converter. I would suggest something like .OBJ/.MAT or a Blender plugin for import/export of files.

What would be really awesome would be a Freespace style set of Descent Manager tools for Wing Commander games. e.g VPView32: https://wiki.hard-light.net/index.php/VPView32 There's a bunch of other tools they made too. You can browse Freespace .VP files (equivalent of .TRE) and preview/playback/extract/import images/sound/videos/3D Models etc
 
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Awesome, I'll have to check out the remake!

Upon a bit more of a review there's more variation in WC2 than I'd really fully appreciated - especially in the backdrops. From left to right:

View attachment 13243
  1. Looks like classic algorithmic dithering; this was the only instance I noticed though...
  2. This looks done by hand to me; unless Deluxe Paint has automatic dithering that looks like this? :eek:
  3. A 3D render, squashed to the colour palette.
  4. A mix of 3D rendering and manual(?) dithering - seems like there was a fair bit of touching up, but not everywhere.
I already knew that the use of 3D renders would be a problem in making widescreen extensions for WC2, but yeah... It'll be interesting. :D
Yup, #2 Is a hallmark of Deluxe Paint Gradients! Check out more info here:
 
Yup, #2 Is a hallmark of Deluxe Paint Gradients!
Oh, nice - I was having trouble finding info on it, so thanks for that link!

An open toolkit for Wing Commander is very exciting, if I could have one wishlist feature it'd be a model and texture importer/exporter for the Armada/WC3/4 IFF formats. We used to have tools to do that, but they got lost when HCL's site got moved to a new server around 2001. Thomas Bruckner and HCL combined had a toolkit for converting ships from Armada/3/4 to Prophecy and a Prophecy to standard industry 3D format converter. I would suggest something like .OBJ/.MAT or a Blender plugin for import/export of files.

What would be really awesome would be a Freespace style set of Descent Manager tools for Wing Commander games. e.g VPView32: https://wiki.hard-light.net/index.php/VPView32 There's a bunch of other tools they made too. You can browse Freespace .VP files (equivalent of .TRE) and preview/playback/extract/import images/sound/videos/3D Models etc
I'm working on a standalone viewer at the same to pair with (and test) the library, which will also be open source. I'm adding an initial round of export options (including Wavefront OBJ for models), but import will be a larger puzzle for another time. Prophecy seems perhaps the most plausible to receive generic import support, but others would have to be restricted in certain ways just in order to be applicable to the original engines - at a minimum, replacing existing content should always be possible though.
 
This is an absolutely fantastic project and will go an enormous way towards making WC1/2 more accessible to modern players, keep up the good work. I especially appreciate the fidelity to period-correct shading, coloring, etc. for seamless integration of the expanded art with the oriignal.
 
Hi all, I was hoping to have a playable test ready for the CIC birthday, but a few too many things have gotten in the way sadly...

I've made a lot of progress on my format-reading library; I have a fairly short list of things I want to wrap up before I put it (and the viewer) up on github - it may be after the first Confederation test release, I'm not sure.

Art-wise one silly thing I realised was that my old widescreen redraws hadn't taken into account the non-square pixels in WC1/2 (being 320x200), so I've also been redrawing those to be even wider, to match my original 21:9 widescreen goal - at the proper original aspect ratio this time. Here's a selection of those (works-in-progress), scaled to a proper 21:9 resolution:

arcade.jpgbar.jpgbarracks.jpgbriefing-bg.jpglaunch.jpg

Confederation itself has been going through a major rewrite - ripping out all of the format reading stuff into this library was a good chance to rid myself of a bunch of cruft which had built up over the years.

I've decided that the first releases will be explicitly a series of tech tests (which it would be anyway, but so intent/expectations are clear). To that end it will begin with a multiplayer/cooperative test to cover as much ground as possible. Since I've run out of time for the CIC birthday, I'll give it some more time in the oven; but hopefully it shouldn't be too far off. 🤞 I'm now aiming for a few weeks from now, so we'll see how that goes.

Of course it may take multiple tests over a period of time to get things fully working... :p Hopefully enough people are interested in helping test it, with the understanding that there will almost certainly be many issues to sort out! It'll be for Windows, Linux most likely, and Mac is a possibility (it'll happen eventually if not from the beginning).
 
my huge compliment. That looks really great. just how great the bar looks now. Excellent. I'm happy and much success
 
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