Freelancer porting of Wing Commander ships

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
CURRENT DOWNLOAD LINK (October 11th, 2019): https://www.dropbox.com/s/z3xd8tc3yo70o6n/Mod Wing Commander.zip?dl=0

Beta version link: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xv5rdmci27kezyu/Freelancer WC Mod v2.zip?dl=0

The Beta version includes a complete replacement of weapons with a new balance system making all fighters capable of using any kind of gun - which are now redefined around the type of shop, civilian, police, corporation, bounty hunter, pirate or military - as well as customizable powerplants, engines and shields consuming power and hold volume and sold according to the same principles. Missiles have been reworked in a similar way, with different missiles being used for different purposes (pursuit, snipe, melee, anti-shield, bombardment). NPC crafts use the new equipment, of course. The values may lead to gamebreaking equipment setups and combinations, so values are not definitive. Thrusters are kinda broken as well at the moment, will be fixed later.

HOTFIX link (for the Beta): https://www.dropbox.com/s/ze97nl1defma0j8/Freelancer.rar?dl=0

Whenever I solve a bug, I update the main mod and the hotfix folders, so if you DL the main mod a week or two ago, just DL and extract the hotfix folder over it rather than redownload the entire mod again. But if this is your first DL, the mod folder will be up to date as well, no need for the hotfix then.

KNOWN BUGS AND SOLUTIONS:
* The take-off sequence in run-through carriers makes you go reverse, can't be fixed AFAIK.
* Setpiece battles involving a battleship, in Mission 10 and 11, can lead to game-freezing collision issues that make the battleship spin like crazy, but if the BB are avoided, the bug is avoidable. I will get on it and try to improve the collision meshes.

The campaign test run was done successfully, so you can play the whole game now with a Wing Commander feel to it.

NOTE: if you had a pre October 11th version and download this one now, you can save up a good GB by deleting the \DATA\SHIPS\Wing_Commander\ folder which is now redundant.

@DefianceIndustries

So, after a Discord discussion that involved talking about Privateer, I kinda got the modding itch once again for Freelancer, but this time, I managed to get in touch with FL modders, who were nice enough to share with me their wonderful, wonderful tools (the kind of which I'm jealous as a HW modder). Long story short, I got told that the models designed by DI, Klavs and others are way too detailed for the game engine, which is probably a wise conclusion, but since I'm very unwise, I tinkered a bit and managed to achieve a pretty nice proof of concept with DI's F-107 Dragon/Lance:

Now, I'm making no promises, but it's something I've wanted to do for a very long time, and I'm probably going to get busy porting most of the ships I have into the game, at least for a ship replacement (I can't guarantee going all the way and making Freelancer under a Privateer appearance like a mod started doing a decade ago).

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The tech demo is available upon request on Discord (keep in mind it's really limited, just a replacement of one of the game's fighters with the F-107, without a dedicated collision box, for example). Don't hesitate to ask for specific fighters that you'd like to see receiving this treatment if you wanna go for a run of this great old game with a specific craft. :)

EDIT:

The rough outline of what I'd intend to do is the following replacement grid for the game's fighters (capships are likely going to be another matter entirely), if DI and the Saga team see no issue with it:

Light Fighters
0​
CivilianStarflierFerret
1​
LibertyPatriotArrow
2​
PirateBloodhoundRazor
4​
CivilianStartrackerEpee
4​
HuntersPirahnaRapier A
4​
BorderDaggerHornet
6​
BretoniaCavalierScimitar
8​
CorsairsLegionnaireRapier C
10​
KusariDrakeBanshee
13​
CivilianHawkRapier G
20​
RheinlandBansheeBearcat
Medium Fighters
2​
LibertyDefenderHellcat
8​
BretoniaCrusaderThunderbolt
13​
PirateWolfhoundThunderbolt Pirate
13​
KusariDragonMorningstar
13​
HuntersBarracudaSabre
20​
BorderStilettoVindicator
22​
RheinlandValkyrieExcalibur
24​
CivilianFalconRapier J
28​
CorsairsCenturionWasp
Heavy Fighters
16​
OrderAnubisDragon
26​
HuntersHammerheadAvenger
30​
CivilianEagleRapier X
30​
BorderSabreCrossbow
32​
CorsairsTitanBloodfang


















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Is this a gorgeous game or is this a gorgeous game?
 
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Pedro

Admiral
Wow this is making me nostalgic. Visually Freelancer has held up better than I'd have thought given it's age.
Is there anywhere online to buy it and starlancer? My copies are half a world away.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Wow this is making me nostalgic. Visually Freelancer has held up better than I'd have thought given it's age.
Is there anywhere online to buy it and starlancer? My copies are half a world away.
The game is notoriously hard to purchase in a non-physical version as there is no legitimate retailer for it in an online version, Microsoft having pulled it from its store years ago. Such a situation has led to various groups considering it as an Abandonware by now, with the consequences that entails. As for me, I had the chance to get one of the disc versions that came without the need for the disc to launch after install, so I carried the folder from computer to computer over almost two decades.

And, yes, FL is one of these games that held incredibly well with time, particularly considering the absurdly low size of its ship models.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Warning, a lot of images under the spoiler, screenshots taken during the first mission to show how Freelancer can use the ships made by our best modellers:
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Our Freelancer gets gifted a really old basic light fighter, a Ferret.

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Taking off to adventure.

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Meeting our wingmate for this mission, King, flying an Arrow.

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A Rheinland cruiser escorted by advanced Excalibur fighters, that will be available for purchase in a long, long time during the campaign.

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The Rheinland cruiser gets attacked by mysterious fighters that managed to come in deep into Liberty space without being detected.

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Dogfighting with the Dragon/Lance heavy fighters.

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A Hellcat fighter, the best Liberty has to offer to customers around, and a decent mainstay for the first part of the game.

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Escorting a transport convoy.

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Pirate Razor fighting it out with our escorts in a debris field.

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Landing on a planet after getting the transports safely to destination.

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Looking at the wingman landing.

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End of a first mission onboard an old but reliable fighter.
Long story short, it's just as I dreamed it could be, if not even better. Freelancer is one hell of a game.
 
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Dyret

Super Carrot!
The only thing I disliked about Freelancer was the rpg-style progression. Once you'd outleveled a sector or ship it kinda wasn't for you anymore. Other than that it was an amazing game. The story had its issues though.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
The only thing I disliked about Freelancer was the rpg-style progression. Once you'd outleveled a sector or ship it kinda wasn't for you anymore. Other than that it was an amazing game. The story had its issues though.
Heh, I found the story pretty good at doing its job of establishing a momentum to carry you all over the universe. My biggest issue with the game would indeed be the linear progress of ships and areas that was combined with a very unequal ship design, meaning that I was forced to choose between flying a suboptimal ship or flying something I found really ugly. With Privateer game design, you could manage to make even a Tarsus remain pretty dangerous by the endgame, while flying a Liberty Defender in Kusari or Rheinland would be suicidal, even though its looks are pretty cool. The level limit for weapons on ships is, IMO, counter-productive overall.

But then, that kinda motivates me for the ship swapping done here, as getting into Bretonia and having to exchange the Hellcat for a Thunderbolt is a lot less traumatizing than replacing a Defender with the Cavalier.
 

Dyret

Super Carrot!
Heh, I found the story pretty good at doing its job of establishing a momentum to carry you all over the universe.
It was very compelling up until the reveal, and then they went 'I dunno know, throw squid monsters in there I guess?' It was such a cheap, weird tone shift. There was that godawful uncut intro where they blew up the solar system, so it was obviously planned all along, but it's still a horribly shitty way to tie up your cool mystery conspiracy story.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
It was very compelling up until the reveal, and then they went 'I dunno know, throw squid monsters in there I guess?' It was such a cheap, weird tone shift. There was that godawful uncut intro where they blew up the solar system, so it was obviously planned all along, but it's still a horribly shitty way to tie up your cool mystery conspiracy story.
It didn't bother me that much, TBH, considering how really weird these Nomad ships were in the Freeport 7 scene. So what, the powerful aliens are indeed trying to not give a chance to the multistellar polities to prepare themselves or get their shit together, rather taking time to weaken all four Houses. Defeating the opposition before it even realizes you exist is a decent course of action to me.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
It was very compelling up until the reveal, and then they went 'I dunno know, throw squid monsters in there I guess?' It was such a cheap, weird tone shift. There was that godawful uncut intro where they blew up the solar system, so it was obviously planned all along, but it's still a horribly shitty way to tie up your cool mystery conspiracy story.
Oh, yes, yes, yes. I was really getting into the story up to that point. It was such a pleasant change, to have no aliens, just human politics. And then, suddenly, glowing eyes. And it all goes downhill from there.

But apart from being silly, Freelancer's story had a much bigger problem. Way back when, both Privateer and Privateer 2 (the latter less so, but still…) managed to wrap up the main storyline in such a way that the player *wasn't* necessarily the most powerful and most famous pilot around in the known universe. They very wisely avoided "save the universe in a last-ditch effort" stories. Freelancer went for exactly that kind of story. Consequently, when you finish, you've really got nothing compelling you to keep playing… and worst of all, you've got it for free! The final, most powerful ship you can get your hands on, you get basically for free as part of the story.

And then there was the inherent weirdness of the geographic structure. Liberty, with weak pirates and a weak military. Bretonnia, with average pirates and an average military. Kusari, with more powerful pirates and a more powerful military. Rheinland, with even more powerful pirates and an even more powerful military. Gee, whiz - I do wonder why, in that situation, Rheinland clashed with Liberty :rolleyes: . Really, the surprising thing is that they didn't just wipe the floor with them. For that matter, it's hard to understand why pirates from Rheinland don't just go streaming into Liberty and Bretonnia, which are surely like a defenceless paradise for them.

But: one thing I did love about Freelancer, even if it wasn't enough to keep me playing (but then again, blame my master's thesis and Standoff for a lack of time…): the fact that the game never told you openly that hey, fly to point x,y,z, and you'll find the wreck of the Hispania there. As you fly around in the outer rim (or whatever it was called), you see pirates with Hispanic names, which is a pretty clear hint that yes, something of the Hispania survived and is somewhere out there. But where? Meh, the game says - we're not gonna tell you, you go look for it yourself if you like. It's a very cool example of a game refusing to hand-hold the player, and leaving things for him to discover. Today, undoubtedly, you'd get fifteen hints along the way - and of course, there'd be the inevitable achievement for finding the Hispania, just to make sure that no player could possibly doubt its existence.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
The level-cap for the guns of each area's fighters is definitely a mistake in game design. As a remark, though, the Anubis Order fighter is an endgame fighter, but far from the best there is. You have to look for the Corsairs base to find the best one. For the story, if you guys want some human politics, I hear good things about the mod Discovery, setting up the reveal of another House based on a ship thought destroyed and abandoned, the Gallia.

In any case, it's a game that gets enhanced quite a lot by mods, and multiplayer servers are still going strong to this day.
 

Star Rider

Rear Admiral
Looks good L.I.F. , It brings back memories of flying the Thuderbolt, Arrow, and Dragon in Starlancer. I can remember using SLEdit to edit the stats on the Dragon to get the speed up towards 500 and making the Afterburner Fuel 999, closest I could get to the unlimited afterburner fuel. The Coalition had a healthy fear of the Dragon.
 
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L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Note to self: while Klavs' models are really awesome-looking in some applications, they are really less than optimal for Freelancer, oof. The way he made his Rapier variants is kinda problematic for the in-game rendering.

Modding itch satisfied now, I've played a quarter/third of the campaign using the Hellcat, and it is definitely appreciable, but the initial rush is gone. I guess I'll go for a second slower and more methodical run now, starting everything again from scratch but trying to make the ship swap as consistent and effective as possible: my initial run had ships with quick and dirty resizing that needed repeated go-overs.

Now, however, I keep thinking about it, and the consistency of the crafts when everything gets replaced by Wing Commander ships? It's really improving my feel of the game. Assuming there's a release, I'd like to probe people for gameplay elements that could come in a possible mod.

* I believe strongly that removing the weapons' power level cap would go strongly towards making the game feel more enjoyable after the end of its campaign, at the very least by diversifying the effective ship choices.

* The player level system is also pretty interesting in that I could make most fighters available everywhere logical - by this I mean that pirate fighters shouldn't be available in normal places - but available only through experience and reputation.

* Deactivating the main campaign could be done in the mod and then, ship spawns could be reworked to have NPCs use a lot more powerful weaponry, the kind unavailable to the player at start, making it a suicide to rush military ships in the early game. Also, it'd make all Houses equal in terms of deployed armament and threats faced, no more danger curve like @Quarto rightfully pointed. Local pirates would come with slightly better loadouts than civilian ones, serious gangers would be as armed as the police, then you'd see the Bounty Hunters as the equivalent to mid-late game players and finally military or Corsair ships.

* I would have to revamp the product lists to make smuggling more profitable as well so that pirate life can be a serious alternative.

My belief is that a pretty decent Privateer-like can be built this way. My fear is about the capital ships and space stations, for which I don't know if I'd be able to make proper swaps, but in any case, a full OpenSP seems doable.
 

Panther1.0

Ensign
Where there any expansions for Freelancer? I enjoyed the game back then but lost interest after the storyline ended, I know you could continue exploring the systems and upgrading your ship etc. Not sure if there were side quest missions?
 
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