Gauging interest in a remaster

Discussion in 'Fan Projects & Editing' started by Pedro, Jun 23, 2017.

  1. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Well, yes, and no. Undeniably the raw nature of Vega Strike contributed significantly to its failure. But I don't think it was actually harder than editing WCP/SO, which we did happily. Vega Strike suffered from a number of other problems. The technology felt somewhat raw, unpolished, and it felt like it took forever to even load the game. Even more importantly, at the time, the technology offered remarkably little benefits - in the early 2000s, there just wasn't any strong argument in favour of abandoning WCP/SO or FS2 in favour of a new engine. Quite the contrary, Vega Strike didn't even offer a significant visual improvement, while in every other area it was actually a downgrade. And later on, when WCP/SO started showing its age, not only was Vega Strike no longer particularly vibrant, but more importantly - the editing community was smaller than ever (and those that were still there concentrated on just two projects - Standoff and Saga).

    Oooh. I love inheritance-based systems. Granted, this kind of system is probably more important if you're making a big open-world RPG than if you're making a Wing Commander game, but it's still very useful. This is how WC2's alternative missile loadouts worked - and ironically, it's one of the very few features that existed in older games and disappeared in the later ones. By the time we got to WCP, each alternative missile loadout for a fighter had to be a completely separate ship file.

    I think this is down to experience and personal attitudes. I've seen over the years how easy it is for designers to mess up a mission script, and I dread to think of ways they could mess up the game more deeply when working with a Unity-like system that offers them deeper control over the game but demands programming skills to manage this. I think it's good for more advanced people on the team to have the possibility of making deeper changes (yes, it does save time if you don't need to ask the programmers to change something and recompile the executable just to try it out), but I don't like more junior members being overwhelmed by this vast array of possibilities. Making games is just like playing games - you don't throw everything the game has to offer at the player during the first level, you have to have a learning curve. The other thing is that I just don't like the attitudes I see among modern designers, who tend to be focussed on themselves rather than the team, and their particular part of the game rather than the game as a whole. One consequence of this is that designers like to edit things that only the leads should edit - for example, they override enemy stats because for whatever reason this seemed like a good idea for their part of the game - with not a thought to the fact that the game as a whole must be consistent, must follow a general progression, and simply has no room for each designer to do his own thing.

    In short, I don't like it when designers try to develop custom solutions. Sometimes hacks and weird things like that are necessary - we had our fair share of them in Standoff and UE - but the best solutions are the systemic ones, that work identically all across the board. So yes, you'd want to have presets that can potentially be edited by any designer, but in practice are left to the leads to edit, while the rest of the team just uses the preset without looking into what's inside the preset.
     
  2. AD

    AD Finder of things, Doer of stuff

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    There's some filters and zoom modes that will allow you to play the videos properly zoomed on a widesreen monitor. However, IIRC the videos use more of a telecine style process and the automatic deinterlaces never totally catch all the bad frames. Anyway, long story short, I had to do this exact process to upload all the videos for the CIC's holovids section. So you can download them in webm or MP4 already converted. (I have the prophecy vids done too which suffered from the interlacing even more than the WC4 ones).

    Anyway http://download.wcnews.com/holovids/wing4/index/

    There's probably someone with some pro tools that might get better results and could re-encode these. I don't typically do much noise reduction as, unless you have a super awful source, you usually just end up blurring your picture. These files are cropped so that you aren't wasting bandwidth on black pixels (and so that they display correctly on widescreen monitors) and the interlacing was removed. The goal was also for streaming, so it's possibly that for something that will be downloaded to someone's PC anyway, another higher bitrate version might be more ideal.

    Another thing to note is that there's a couple of videos that aren't on the DVD. I believe I have included "fixed" versions of them all in this set. So all the hallway transitions and such that were missing audio were combined with the audio from the CD versions. In one instance, 3630... the DVD version is missing the ending in the bar, so the CD version is there as a separate file

    EDIT = I guess I should add that we also did a similar process for WC3, but the source PSX videos are considerably lower quality that WC4's DVD videos. You can find those here: http://download.wcnews.com/holovids/wing3/index/
     
    Last edited: Jun 28, 2017
  3. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Thanks AD, that'll do fine for the moment. It'd be nice to see if more could be done (similar to that WC3 doumentary) but between those and the models DefianceIndustries provided me I'm pretty much good to go.

    All I need now is a 2D artist for the HUD.

    That says there is no rush, I still have to help Pete finish some modding work.
     
  4. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    There's an indices problem (and no materials yet), but something is visible for the first time, which is a start.
     

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  5. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    And now perhaps slightly closer to what was intended (anyone have any decent cube maps to help set the tone?).
     

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  6. Triple-B

    Triple-B Commodore

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    btw. what happened to the remaster of Unknown Enemy? ;)
     
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  7. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Not sure to be honest - it wouldn't require any actual coding so I was never involved. Quarto is the only person who might be pursuing this right now. The one thing I could have helped out with was improving compatibility of the WCP OpenGL patch but someone involved with the hi-res model is trying to re-implement the patch in DirectX 11.

    There is a project I've been working on with Pete; I've promised him I will help him complete that before working on the WCIV remaster (right now I'm only setting up the engine, once I've added animation and distance field fonts I will put this to one side).
     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
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  8. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Still a few kinks to work out - but testing Defiance Industries beautiful Hellcat
     

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  9. ShadowArm

    ShadowArm Ensign

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    id suggest making this one compatible with reshade/sweetfx, the newest builds can pull out some magnificent wonders in space games, and crosire posts a lot on reshade forums.
     
  10. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Worrying about post-processing is a long way off. At the beginning of a project you tend to turn all post-processing off to get the standard material shaders right, then start to slowly introduce them.

    That said I've spent the majority of my career as a core tech programmer, with a focus on graphics. The list of post process effects rattled off by the reshade website I was implementing a good 6 years ago as my day job; when I get round to post process effects it won't be any issue to implement a wide assortment (some are already available, things like bloom, motion blur, but all disabled at this stage).

    As the engine is open source you don't need to worry about any kind of injector, everything will be available to tweak.
     
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  11. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    My PhD continues to happen. Lately, more than anything, I've been trying to cut back on things that I'm doing. Quite honestly, I probably shouldn't even be visiting this forum just at the moment.
     
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  12. JulianFB

    JulianFB Veteran Spaceman

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    Hey Pedro,

    friends of mine are currently working on a space shooter called Starway Fleet and just released a free DEMO on Steam.
    They did an awesome job on the controls and playing the game with either mouse or controller / joystick works pretty good.

    You have a very smooth control configuration :)

    Maybe the way they dealed with the controls can be helpful when working on the WCIV remaster.
    I am happy to get you in touch with them. The game is done with the Unity engine.

    store.steampowered.com/app/610680

    Looking forward to your project :)

    Cheers

    Julian
     
  13. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Thanks Julian. At this stage however I'm only aiming to add polish rather than redesign, I probably won't try messing with the controls significantly.
     
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  14. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    Really boring update this time - but there were three systems I had to replace as they were dependent on proprietary tech.
    The first was the model format (largely done)
    The next was the fonts... (I said it was boring).

    I want to be able to accomodate everything from 1080p to 4k so it was important to have a font system that did a decent job of scaling both up and down.
    I took the smallest text on wing commander IV, blew it up to fullscreen and ensured that text of the same screen size (about 45% of the size of the source image) looked good at 1080p with the new rendering system.
    The lower text is 800% the size of the source image so I'm reasonably confident even the largest text will scale up nicely to 4k.
     

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    Last edited: Jul 22, 2017
  15. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    I went totally down the rabbit hole this past week. The keystring export code we used was also proprietary, and our data parser wasn't handling utf-8 correctly.
    The font exporter I made last week, although designed with foreign characters in mind also wasn't handling them so only English would have displayed correctly.
    I also found that the font system didn't work with complex characters (such as Japanese) at that resolution so I spent a bit of time tweaking the exporter to try and automatically determine good sizes.

    There was no Japanese version of Wing Commander IV, I'm now considering making a translation just to justify all of this.
     

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  16. Triple-B

    Triple-B Commodore

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    All the best for your Phd :) Hope you will find some time one day to do the UE Stuff :)
     
  17. Iceblade

    Iceblade Admiral

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    A Wing Commander 1 or 2 remake is actually difficult for another reason:

    The desire to add additional elements to the remake:
    More fighters both enemy and friendly in missions
    More background events
    Added complexities to missions
    More missions

    It would really hard to keep it to just the missions as they were originally designed and implemented.

    PS Quarto, I know exactly how you feel. I went through my own frustrations and hardships earning my PhD - the long slug that makes Fleet Action seem winnable.
     
  18. Pedro

    Pedro Vice Admiral

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    I don't think I'd have that temptation. With SO1+2 and SM1+2 there were plenty of missions to go around.
    I've actually started to move onto animation and have been thinking about how easily the scripted mouth movements could be swapped over to blend 3D model animations using the same data. I think WC1 or 2 could be a fun project.
     
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  19. Quarto

    Quarto Unknown Enemy

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    Man, I'm so tempted to respond with a WC3 Hobbes quote: "No one . . . ever . . . will truly understand what I did." Honestly, at an intellectual level, I know that everybody goes through frustrations and hardships, and even if they're different in each case, they are relatable. But at an emotional level, I somehow can't shake the feeling that my case is more frustrating than usual. It probably isn't, but it sure feels like it. I look around, and other PhDs are all younger than me, and they don't have a family to bring into the equation.

    Time-wise, I'm stretched to the max - to the point where I find myself frequently wasting time out of sheer frustration. I am more fed up with my PhD than I had ever, ever been with Standoff. That's really saying something. I'm still excited about my research topic, I love what I'm doing, but... we hates it, precious, we hates it! I think the worst part is that after you've been immersed in a topic like this for four years, you find it impossible to really talk about it with anyone else (other than your supervisor, of course), because it just takes so much explaining to bring people up to date. So I've got this massive thing that's taking up all my time, and yet my family barely has any idea of what my research is actually about.

    Well, back to the coalface. See, look at this - I went back to the PC this evening to get some more work done ahead of my next supervisor meeting. But because I'm so fed up with it, I've spent about five minutes in the past forty minutes actually working. I'll still get there, because... well, because I am getting there - but yeah. Frustrations. Hardships. Fleet Action feeling winnable in comparison. Gotcha. I'd go raving mad, if only Standoff hadn't driven me raving mad years ago.
     
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  20. DefianceIndustries

    DefianceIndustries Commodore

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    At some point I think you're going to need a Lexington/Princeton, and since I don't have one yet, I started working on one at lunch today.
    Lexington_WIP1.jpg
     
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