Introducing wcdx - Kilrathi Saga for modern Windows

Discussion in 'Fan Projects & Editing' started by Stinger, Dec 23, 2014.

  1. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    I didn't mean to imply otherwise; the changelist is indeed impressive. I just thought it was an interesting point of comparison.

    As to what's possible: There's very little that isn't, with enough time and effort, but time especially is in short supply. Speech is something I've considered in the past, but it would require users of the patch to track down and acquire the speech files. I'm trying to be careful about not distributing anything belonging to rights holders. I could make things easier for players by shipping pre-patched game executables, but the original executables belong to EA, and I don't have any kind of license to redistribute. For the same reason, even though wcdx is open-source, I don't make my IDA databases available (which unfortunately makes it difficult for a hypothetical third party to see what's actually being patched).

    Wcdx is licensed under a permissive open-source license and always will be. Part of the reason for that is to make adoption by GOG as easy as possible, should they choose to do so.
     
  2. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    I think that if you have the time and will to add speech option to your patch you should. Acquiring speech files would be no problem for users of your patch.

    You don't have to distribute prepatched exe files. You could make installer that contains SM cause they're free. That installer could copy SM and files from game CD to hard drive and then patch them. It could also copy speech from Sega CD. That way you are covered cause users would need original CDs. If the users decide to pirate the game it's not your problem and no one can accuse you of anything.

    GOG probably doesn't know that your patch exist so let them know. For example they used WESP unofficial patch for VTMB.
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  3. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    Speech is an interesting topic, but I'd like to table that for now; realistically, I won't be addressing it in the short term, if I ever do. There are so many other things worth working on before that.

    I've been thinking about an installer for a while, but I don't really have experience putting one of those together. I think it might be neat to recreate the experience of the original installer/launcher. Again, this is an interesting idea worth exploring, but it's not among my top priorities right now. That said, if anyone with the technical skill is interested in putting something together, code contributions are certainly welcome.

    Re: GOG, there actually is a thread on their forums mentioning wcdx and a wish list entry for Kilrathi Saga. You can show your support there. Keep in mind that GOG can't unilaterally decide to ship Kilrathi Saga; they need to work with EA to make that happen. (EA would likely also put it up on Origin.) If EA and GOG decided to ship Kilrathi Saga, they could certainly use wcdx to make it work -- the wcdx license says they don't even need my permission, though I'd certainly appreciate them making contact so we can coordinate future patches -- but realistically only for WC1. WC2 is barely even playable right now, and SO1 and SO2 are not playable at all.

    If I can get all the games up to a reasonable working state, and EA/GOG decide to incorporate my work, that will nicely solve the installer problem.

    I have bugs remaining in WC1 and especially SM2 that I'd like to fix, and then I'll need to spend quite a lot of time on WC2 to get it up to par. I intended to have all that done quite some time ago, but I got sucked into work responsibilities and fell out of the habit; I'm only now starting to become irresponsible with my time again enough to work on this.

    I will have an update in the near term, though it won't be a new version of wcdx. (Especially clever people can figure it out from my recent activity on GitHub.)
     
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2018
  4. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    I agree with you that speech is not priority but it would be nice to have it in the future.

    You don't have to make the installer. Try something like this: http://www.jrsoftware.org/isinfo.php

    If someday GOG decide to release KS with your patch I will buy it.

    Take your time to finish the patches and know that your work is appreciated.
     
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2018
  5. ChrisReid

    ChrisReid Super Soaker Collector / Administrator

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    Realistically, it seems pretty unlikely that GOG would go through the effort of rereleasing the same games in Windows Kilrathi Saga flavor. You and I might buy it, but there's probably a very tiny market for people who would go with that one addition to the DOSBox versions. DOSBox may not be optimal, but it's so self contained and manageable compared to a relatively incompatible Windows variant. There's virtually no support cost. As Stinger keeps saying, there's a long ways to go to make the KS versions of the games really solid on modern operating systems.
     
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  6. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    I know that KS without Stinger's patch would not work on modern Windows cause it's made for 95. Lets presume that Stinger will finish his WC1 and 2 patches in next few months. Then GOG could refresh this package with his patches and that would be a nice start. Later when Stinger also patches WC3 GOG could offer WC1, 2 and 3 separately and whole KS package also. Then people could choose what they want. That would be ideal for all of us.
     
    Last edited: Jul 18, 2018
  7. -danr-

    -danr- Rear Admiral

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    The GOG versions of Wing Commander, Wing Commander II and Wing Commander III are original DOS releases, not Kilrathi Saga. They don't require Stinger's patch because the original versions don't have the same bugs that WCDX is designed to deal with.
     
  8. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    Well, sure; I think what @mj78 is saying is that the existing game packages could be updated with the Kilrathi Saga versions as an additional download, free to anyone who already bought the games. That seems like the only possible path forward.

    Thanks!
     
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  9. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    @-danr-: You didn't understand my wishful thinking. Replacing the existing packages with KS versions that are patched with Stinger's WCDX patch is what I had in mind.

    @Stinger: Did you consider adding some good upscaler to your patch as optional feature?
     
  10. ChrisReid

    ChrisReid Super Soaker Collector / Administrator

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    That might be ideal for everyone but Stinger, who also has a life outside of WC modding. :) He's been working on the project four four years so far to get it where it is today. It would be fabulous if he got WC1/2 all polished in the next few months, but I fully expect that progress will gradually continue for a few years to come with steady incremental improvements.
     
  11. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    That's a very reasonable request, and you're not the first to ask it. My focus right now is on bugs, but this feature will likely come sooner rather than later.
     
  12. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    @ChrisReid: Like I said before it was just a wishful thinking.

    @Stinger: Just to let you know that I also finished SM1 and 2 and besides those problems with lasers and asteroids it was a smooth ride. Actually it was not because I had to use cheats in SM1 and 2. I don't know why they made some missions to be so hard but at one point my patience run out and I had to use the cheats.

    It's a good thing that you didn't finished WC2 patch cause I got carried away with WC1 too much. Now I have to finish some work in real life that was delayed because of WC1.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
  13. wcnut

    wcnut Rear Admiral

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    If I rember correctly. One outstanding bug in in WC1 KS is that cockpit damage doesn't happen. Stinger were you ever able to find a reason for this?

    Thanks but I was already aware of zaps166 work. I'm the guy who made the OSX bundle for him :). Though I do need to break out my crappy broken macbook and make him another one someday. My main machine is a linux box these days. Actually I bet you I could put both software and opengl executables in the same app bundle....I'd have to play with loading script, but yeah... that should be doable.
     
    Last edited: Jul 20, 2018
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  14. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    @mj78 Glad you enjoyed it!

    I've actually been looking into exactly that lately. It's slow going, in part because there's no way to just make cockpit damage happen. I think I know the immediate cause, but I still need to go trace through the logic in the DOS version to see why it's different. In the meantime, I've been focusing on getting all of my tools into the wcdx repository (I had previously kept non-shipping code in a separate private repo) and getting everything cleaned up so it can be used by other people.
     
  15. Skanks

    Skanks Rear Admiral

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    This is great! Fantastic work.

    I was wondering if you included the fix for the Snakeir not using their flak. Years ago someone fixed it and there was a patched executable, I tried to use your patcher on it but it didn’t like it (I am guessing you are looking for specific executables to edit rather than hoping you’ve found the right spot!)

    https://www.wcnews.com/news/2009/03/17/kilrathi-saga-snakeir-refanged
     
  16. Stinger

    Stinger Vice Admiral

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    I didn't even know about that one! Since they provide a patched executable, I can just do a diff and incorporate their changes. I'll take some time to evaluate it, but it'll probably be in the next release.
     
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  17. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    @Stinger Working resolution for WC1 and 2 is 320x200 but the aspect ratio is 4:3. For example if you look at ship's radar you can clearly see that it's not a circle but it should be. Can you set the AR to be 16:10 like it should be for that resolution?
     
  18. Skanks

    Skanks Rear Admiral

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    But all the monitors at the time were 4:3. 320x200 is supposed to be displayed at that aspect ratio with non-square pixels. CRT's didn't work like LCD's do.

    I don't even remember seeing a widescreen monitor in use before the early 21st century.

    Stinger already discussed it starting on page 4.
     
  19. mj78

    mj78 Spaceman

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    @Skanks I know that back then there was no WS monitors. Bunch of DOS games were using 320x200 for some reason. If all monitors were 4:3 why the developers didn't use 320x240 which is a proper 4:3?
     
  20. Goliath

    Goliath Rear Admiral

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    This is an interesting thread and one I continue to watch. Thanks for your continued efforts @Stinger and we'll look forward to any future updates when you have the time. :)

    @mj78 In regard to 320x200 resolution, that was a resolution that IBM decided on in the early days of "PCs" (in particular, the CGA 320x200, 4 color format was introduced in 1981). (EDIT: In addition, IBM introduced VGA in 1987 which was also a 320x200 format with 256 colors.) Computer hardware was expensive back then and monitors were no exception. When Wing Commander came out in 1990, if you were lucky enough to have a color monitor it was often CGA/EGA graphics and they supported the 320x200 standard. The idea of 256 color VGA graphics was really a luxury at the time and one of the reasons why Wing Commander blew a lot of people away with its awesome graphics (and also started to earn its reputation in forcing people to upgrade just to play the game). So basically, 320x200 was used by a lot of game developers at the time because it meant that more people could play a game on lots of different hardware. Although you might be able to force a 320x240 resolution on some hardware, it really wasn't the standard. I believe the idea of 4:3 aspect ratio started to become more standardized when VESA was established mid 1989. But with any standard, both hardware and software have to be made to support it and so this is why even into the 90s the 320x200 format was still used. If you want to learn more about the 320x200 format, there is a great article on Nerdy Pleasures about it:

    http://nerdlypleasures.blogspot.com/2013/10/320x200-resolution-of-choice-for-ibm-pc.html

    Also, these days it is easy to forget how Wing Commander looked on a non-VGA display. Here is a great wcnews article (with video!) from 2016 about Pix playing Wing Commander on a old Tandy PC with CGA graphics:

    https://www.wcnews.com/news/2016/08/17
     
    Last edited: Jul 22, 2018

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