Hellcat cockpit in the WC2 style

Iceblade

Admiral
There is just something so cool about seeing a hellcat in wing commander 2. I guess it is just seeing Rapiers and Hellcats in the same engine that really ties together WC3 with the earlier games.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Sooo... on the subject of importing ships and modding WC2 in general. There's been a lot of research done in the last year or so. Before, we had basic mission-editing capacity. We can now more or less import new ships, but some research has also been done into gameflow and encoding cutscenes. So, I'm curious - how do we stand overall?

If someone were to attempt to create an SO3 of some kind (perhaps using the SO2 executable), would we be able to...
a) Import those new ships, like the Hellcat and the Dralthi, into WC2 itself (rather than Academy)?
b) Prepare and import takeoff/landing sequences for those new ships?
c) Prepare new character face animations (if someone was capable of drawing them)?
d) Create a bunch of new missions?
e) Configure a different mission tree, rather than squeezing new missions into the existing mission tree?
f) Script new conversations between missions?

I know that for many of those questions, the answer is still negative. And of course, the fact is that much of this stuff is kind of research-if-needed material, where nobody has bothered researching because nobody has needed to edit anything. Perhaps a more concentrated effort to create a complete WC2 mod would help focus things, a little? ;)

The idea I'm toying with, is to develop literally an SO3 mod. It would take place inside the End Run timeframe, during the month from when Bear, Doomsday and Sparks get transferred to the Tarawa until before the battle of Vukar Tag (I don't think WC2 is well suited at all to replicate Vukar Tag itself). I'm not sure what the story itself would be, but it would concentrate on the Concordia herself (no sense in doing yet another special op with Paladin). As in the previous two add-ons, a significant aspect of the story would be the introduction of a new fighter - and since so much effort has already gone into getting the Hellcat WC2-ready, no prizes for guessing what fighter would be involved. The Kilrathi Dralthi could also show up - again, since it's been done already :). And hey, since there's no need to worry about disk space any more, maybe that Rigakh cruiser could finally make an appearance, given that we've got the original WC2 model? In terms of new characters, I suppose it would be easily possible to make do with the existing set of WC2 characters (minus Sparks - so no more flight deck scenes, alas), though it wouldn't hurt to get somebody new in there. Perhaps it might be feasible for somebody to modify WC1's Hunter graphics to look (and work) more or less right for WC2?

Oh, yeah, and of course, there's that one tiny detail - would anybody actually want to try to implement something like this? I'd absolutely love to write out a general plan for the game, and maybe even outlines for the missions and conversations between missions, but in terms of editing the missions and stuff... well, I still haven't been able to finish off the UE update, so that shows how much time I have for these things ;). That having been said, a WC2 mission involves far less effort than a WCP mission, so at least on that end it would be a relatively uncomplicated affair...
 

Iceblade

Admiral
Sounds like an excellent idea that needs a champion... (Ie someone with a lot of spare time - so not me)

There is one issue though... Wouldn't the Hellcat be rather common (or at least not new) by this point? The closest we have to a canon designation is F-42. Hard to see it taking a decade to come to full production after the F-44. Unless you mean a new, more capable variant of the fighter. Implying that the A variant didn't quite impress and resulted limited production, usage, and attention compared to the premier Rapier - which saw multiple upgrades over time.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Well, one of the SO addons actually did introduce a new variant of an existing ship, the Super Ferret. I don't know if anybody really cares much about the F-42 designation of the Hellcat (given that everything else from that particular source is considered irrelevant), and if anybody would be upset if it were introduced as a new fighter. Maybe the consensus would indeed be to make it a new version of an existing fighter. It doesn't actually matter. As long as there would be some reasonably plausible story as to why Hellcats are being introduced on the Concordia, that's all you need. And for players, the core attraction wouldn't be a brand new fighter anyway, but simply the fun of having a ship from WC3 introduced backwards into WC2. Be that as it may, I do think there is probably a good case for the Hellcat being new. If it were older than the Rapier, the WC4 novel would come off as pretty weird, since one of the ways it tries to show the desperate situation of the Border Worlds is to say that they're flying Rapiers, while Confed is flying Hellcats.

Incidentally, if you take a look at the discussion we had early in this thread about the stats of the Hellcat, you will see that I actually argued for a set of stats that made the Hellcat a parallel fighter type to the Rapier - that is, regardless of whether it's older or newer, they actually serve different roles, with Hellcats being general purpose fighters while the Rapiers are purely space superiority. So, they could be used alongside each other.
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Just as a quick update: I haven't forgotten about this. I've just had to take care of some personal issues (again, unfortunately this ends up being a recurring thing), and that's been eating away at both my spare time and my energy.

The good news: I've began to slowly reclaim some spare time :) What I started doing with that spare time? Some minimal cleaning on my WC2 conversion scripts, setting them up so anyone with GNU Octave can generate a WC2 ship just by minimal tweaking. Then I'll be releasing this to the community. Many thanks to delMar for keeping pinging me about it :)

So basically the idea is to have a package capable of producing a WC2/WCA ship file as-is, with a couple sample ship tiles included. This will allow anyone playing with this to set up GNU Octave, verify everything is working correctly, and then go from there. Even if I don't have time to do substantial work on this myself, I welcome to folks working on the Covert Missions mod to reuse what you can, push it forward and improve it! :)

This may also be interesting for non-developer folks, for this purpose I had in mind the Arrow and Tigershark as "sample" ships, and they should end up being flyable in the end. Here are the ship tiles I have at the moment, in case anyone is interested :D
 

Attachments

Mindcrime

Commodore
Just this breakthrough alone would be enough reason to make a mod! New ships in game but don't change anything else. I would love that mod! Anyways, great job. I'm excited for the future.
 
This is awesome news! Congratulations hcl! I only occasionally post here, though I check the front page of the CIC daily. This is an incredible breakthrough, and I'm glad hcl found the time to make it! This community rocks.

I fully support the idea of a WC2 mod, but with Klavs awesome Tarsus nearby in the newsfeed, I had a weird idea for something that is A. a little simpler, and B. probably a great test-bed for what is needed for a full-size mod for WC2. If memory serves, Privateer runs on the WC2 engine. I know there are some enhancements, and this idea is basically moot if this method doesn't work with WC:p, but if it does, why not mod some more ships into Privateer? I feel like it would be easier overall, and since buy-able ships would need a variety of assets, off the top of my head, a new floor on the Ship Vendor's floor, a scripted conversation with the Vendor, various sprites for Landing Pad animations, that would all be short and easy to do compared to even 1 new WC2 mission with full Wingman Conversations, Mission Briefing, new launch and landing animations etc. The only hurdle I can think of is adding them and behavior randomly throughout the Privateer world, but if they are done in the same game engine, I can't imagine it's too far off of scripting WC2 enemies. It would be cool to add in the Talon, and the Demon, which already have their models and random appearance in game, and would make good initial forays. And from there, if you want to run wild with it maybe the 'Speeder Ship', or a purchaseable Drayman, Talon, or even something cool like a surplus Broadsword or Gladiator.

Don't mean to distract from the incredible WC2 achievement and possible mod though. SO3 with a Hellcat IV would be beyond amazing, and I really like the Pre-Vukar Tag scenario Quarto laid out. I hope the rest of the assets end up being easily moddable so we can fly off the Concordia again soon!
 

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Definitely, i'd love to import ships into Privateer some day as well :) From what I remember, the format is pretty much the same, or very very close, so I think it would be trivial to adapt this script to import new ships into Privateer! (the palette needs changing, the packaging might need some tweaking, as Privateer started using IFFs for ship encoding, but the RLE compression used by the game is definitely the same) If anyone wants to do that, do let me know!

Anyway, doing some progress here cleaning and optimizing the script. I've been using MATLAB for my work, so I had forgotten how slow GNU Octave is in comparison. The way both programs handle for loops (very slow) means my script was never really blazing fast, but Octave has gotta be around one order of magnitude slower than MATLAB! So i'm attempting to vectorize my code in a couple of functions before releasing it. (for context, Octave is kinda the Open Source clone of MATLAB)

In the meantime, i've been playing a bit with the Arrow. If anyone wants to suggest a set of stats, please feel free! I'll incorporate them in the package i'm building. Screenshots below :)
 

Attachments

HCl

WC EXE archaeologist
Indeed we are :D

Frankly i'm still amazed at how good the Armada models end up looking in WC2/WCA. They are pretty low-res by any standard, maybe around 300 polys or less... but the sprites are low-res enough themselves that it doesn't really show (that, and our brains end up extrapolating quite a bit from that lack of detail, so it still ends up feeling pretty cool!).
 
Definitely, i'd love to import ships into Privateer some day as well :) From what I remember, the format is pretty much the same, or very very close, so I think it would be trivial to adapt this script to import new ships into Privateer! (the palette needs changing, the packaging might need some tweaking, as Privateer started using IFFs for ship encoding, but the RLE compression used by the game is definitely the same) If anyone wants to do that, do let me know!

Anyway, doing some progress here cleaning and optimizing the script. I've been using MATLAB for my work, so I had forgotten how slow GNU Octave is in comparison. The way both programs handle for loops (very slow) means my script was never really blazing fast, but Octave has gotta be around one order of magnitude slower than MATLAB! So i'm attempting to vectorize my code in a couple of functions before releasing it. (for context, Octave is kinda the Open Source clone of MATLAB)

In the meantime, i've been playing a bit with the Arrow. If anyone wants to suggest a set of stats, please feel free! I'll incorporate them in the package i'm building. Screenshots below :)
Whoa, awesome reply! For starters, that Arrow looks GREAT, and I'm happy to hear of your progress on optimizing the Script in general. This sounds like its really coming along. I cannot overstate how awesome I think this is and how much I support it.

And thank you for your awesome reply! That's fantastic news about the script most likely working with Privateer! The prospect of a WC:p with a more thriving community of ships is amazing, just like everything else associated with this development. I wish I knew anything about scripting or modding old WC Games in general otherwise I'd do my best to try to help. If there is anything I can do to help, let me know.
 
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