Editing Wing Commander III & IV

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Hello, WingNuts!

With Privateer 2 Ships 2 more-or-less completed, it's time to move on to the scary ones -- Wing Commander III and IV. I know HCl did a lot of research on these games years ago, but digging through them with Ripper5 and Treman is nowhere near as self-explanatory as hex-editing a Privateer 2 savegame (or winging through WC1 and 2).

I'm hoping to find two things -- to know where to find the in-game ship specifications, and to figure out how to switch ships around so I can grab five-view screenshots of the different Kilrathi fighters.

Has anyone figured out how to do any of this? Can you help me? i'm not great with editing...

LOAF
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Bandit LOAF said:
...to figure out how to switch ships around so I can grab five-view screenshots of the different Kilrathi fighters.

Has anyone figured out how to do any of this? Can you help me? i'm not great with editing...

LOAF
I guess as a cheat you could just use the object camera... you'll get stars and other backgound objects but you can rotate the ship any which way you want and zoom in and out to some degree.
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
Would it be possible to extract all of the files with Treman, then search for whatever model format they used for the games, and then open it in some kind of model viewer, and get your screens from there?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
The object camera is my goal -- but I can't get straight shots of enemy ships in flight... Ineed to switch them with my fighter so I can control it during the screenshot process.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Bandit LOAF said:
The object camera is my goal -- but I can't get straight shots of enemy ships in flight... Ineed to switch them with my fighter so I can control it during the screenshot process.

I just looked at it and I see what you mean. The object camera (f6) works pretty good for cap ships but if things start manoevering out of the plane of the engine they perpetually end up twisted. No matter which angle the ship will look like its tilted to one side. Any player flyable ship should be easy to get clean shots of though. Hit your Afterburners till your outside the ship, dont turn at all, and then stop and the ship should line up with th camera alright. And rear shots should be easy enough with the chase camera (f5) Zoom in with [ and out with ] .
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yeah, that's why I need to switch ships around -- if I'm the one flying a Darket, then getting even screenshots is easy.

Here's an Arrow:

 
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Dyret

Super Carrot!
Wow, I'm always amazed when I see how good WC3's graphics were. Are to lines between the main body and wings actually modeled?
 

eddieb

Vice Admiral
If all else fails, a number of wc3 ships have been ported to Prophecy, and there you can use the ship switcher to get at least the 6 views. Colors might be slightly off.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I think you'd have to talk to HCl about this. He did develop a number of tools for WC3/4 a while back, but they're not currently available from his site (presumably, he still has them backed up somewhere).

Oh, also, Thomas Bruckner did develop some kind of editor for WC4 ships. I did try it once, but since editing WC4 was never a priority for me, I didn't spend too much time trying to figure it out. Anyway, you can find the editor here.

I don't currently have WC3 or WC4 installed, but I'll try to find the time to take a look at them as well. I don't know how much help I'll be, though, because between work, Standoff, and life in general, I'm stretched pretty thin.
 

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
Quarto said:
Oh, also, Thomas Bruckner did develop some kind of editor for WC4 ships. I did try it once, but since editing WC4 was never a priority for me, I didn't spend too much time trying to figure it out. Anyway, you can find the editor here.
Yeah the editor works... I did a bit of testing though the lighting was a bit poor in these. And I'm not sure why there was so many of them either:
 

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HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Using Thomas Bruckner's editor is probably the way to go for WC4. My earlier WC3/4 mission editors were a pain to use, and getting them to work properly can be a difficult, mainly due to the installation procedure involved.

For WC3, however, i'd recommend a more recent WC3 mission editor i put together sometime around 2001. This one is far more user friendly, and shouldn't give you much trouble. It has zero chances of messing up your WC3 installation since it doesn't alter any game files (changes are made in-memory only, when you start your mission on the editor), however it only works with Kilrathi Saga WC3, or DOS WC3 with the Windows executable.

The WC3 mission editor doesn't allow you to fly kilrathi ships yourself, but if you only place kilrathi ships piloted by confed pilots, the ships will remain in an orientation that will let you take some snapsnots easily. The editor also lets you use the 5 ship Ace variants.
 

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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Hmm. It seems to me that probably the best way to go about this would be to simply edit the ships, rather than missions - if you can't let a player fly a Dralthi, turn a Hellcat into a Dralthi. Perhaps, given the virtual identicality of WC3 and 4 ships, Thomas' ship editor could be used to import WC3 ships into WC4 and make them flyable?
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Thanks for the help, guys - I know you all have insanely busy schedules.

The mission editors HCl linked to sound like they'll do the trick. I'm at work now, but I'll give them a shot tonight and see how it works out.

(The other problem with getting screenshots in-game is cloaking ships... the Strakha, Ace Strakha, Cloaking Arrow and Jammer screenshots would be next to impossible in combat...)

The editor also lets you use the 5 ship Ace variants.
That's fantastic, because getting the 'ace' Darket graphics was actually my first goal. Does that five mean that the 'ace' fighters that don't appear in the game (Vaktoth and Dralthi) are in there?

Now what about specifications? I'd like to be able to extract exactly what they are in-game... especially for the ace ships, which are clearly improved in various ways (we can see that Fireclaw has plasma guns on his Darket, for instance).


Oh, hey, here's some stuff to play with:

An Armada Arrow image... the difference in quality is very interesting, because you really don't 'feel' that when you're playing Armada. The minor differences in the art itself are interesting, too -- the nozzles on the engine... and the other neat thing that the Armada version has that the don't is a blinking light on the bottom.



I also redid the indexes for Armada, WC3 and WC4 in /ships2 -- they look a lot nicer! https://www.wcnews.com/ships2/wc3kilrathi.shtml will get you started.
 
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HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Q, what you suggest is also possible, of course, but i suggested the WC3 editor because it still seems to be the most straight-forward way to take ship screenshots. Also, when i was working on my WC4 mission editor (some 8 years ago) i converted a few WC3 ships to WC4. As far as i recall, the file formats used by the two games are similar, but some editing to the ripped WC3 files is required in order to get WC4 to read them.

LOAF, all five ships are available on my WC3 editor, including the unused Dralthi and Vaktoth aces, which are fully functional on the game files, with unique stats and textures. I was a bit surprised they existed actually, so i made sure to support them. :)

Regarding ship stats... i'm thinking you'll have to use a hex editor to pull those out. However, with EA IFF files having 4 char strings at the beginning of each structure (something like SHLD, ARMR,etc) you shouldn't have much trouble locating these values, once you pull these files out of the TREs. Part of the problem, as i recall, is identifying exactly what file you're looking at, since WC3/4 TREs often don't store individual file names for the stored files. In any case, I'll make an effort to go through my notes soon and get you some specific information on this.

It's nice seeing the differences between Armada and WC3/4 ships. I had completely forgotten about the blinking light on the Arrow, good catch there! I wonder why the WC3 version doesn't have it.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Wow -- there's actually quite a bit here... this Confed Frigate doesn't appear in the game, nor does the 'tanker' version of the WC3 transport.

Here's Stalker's Strakha, images that would have been impossible without HCl:



 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Very pretty indeed. I gather that means you've got the screenshot-grabbing of Kilrathi ships more or less figured out? In that case, I'll try to spend some time today figuring out the stats.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Yes! For WC3, HCl's editor works perfectly -- I just mailed mysyelf a zip of all the shots, which I'll edit when I get to work (... I have a very slow job). I'm missing a few rarer shis that I can grab in game (Behemoth, Theta Depot, ground targets... I think that's it).

WC4 is looking harder -- AD suggests that doesn't let you switch to some of the rarer variants (cloak Arrow) or use some of the rarer capital ships (Jammer). I'll give it a try myself tonight, hopefully.
 

Bandit LOAF

Long Live the Confederation!
Good deal -- I've taken all the pictures I can with HCl's editor, and they've turned out great. There's some truly surprising stuff in here. Look at this:



... and here's Dakhath's Dralthi!:



Amazing! You can scroll back through the ships2 directories to see all the other pictures.

In terms of WC3, I think I'm still missing the Behemoth, the Confed depot, the fault line, four buildings, the prison, the shield generator, the tank and the Ekapshi.
 
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