WC4 Mod For Homeworld 2 In The Works (June 5, 2006)

TonViper

Commodore
Hi guys. If I seem to have dropped off the face of the internet, you wouldn't be entirely wrong.

As of a few days ago, I lost my internet connection, so I'm writing this post from my parents house. I haven't even had a chance to check my email since then.

I have no idea when my connection will get back up, so I'll just let you know when that time comes.

I hope to get my connection back up around the same time I'll get some more time off from work, so I can hopefully become more active around that time again too.
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Hey TonViper, thanks for the update. Hope you manage to get your connection fixed. :)


LeHah said:
I'm pretty floored by this newest video. The shields look perfect and I was awed by the Hellcats being blown clear out of the sky by the BW capship. Jesus! Thats some big firepower! I can't wait to get my hands on this mod!

Any word on the dynamic music you mentioned before?
Yeah, the shield effect on the fighters is apparently just the plasma visual fx from HW2 that is activated roughly where any weapon impacts a fighter -- there is no additional shield mesh on the fighters, but together with the WC sound fx, the total effect is rather convincing and really adds to the sense of immersion. As Aaron mentioned further up, a more robust shield system for capital ships was being investigated, but has had to be put on hold for the initial release for various reasons. The same plasma fx appears on capships too, but doesn't really give the impression of the shielding seen in WC, which is why another solution for capships was being researched.

There's safety in numbers when attacking heavier capital ships, such as destroyers and cruisers in the mod! While most of the fighters are fairly adept at evading incoming turret fire, taking a direct hit from an AMG (visual and sound fx still to be added) as happens in the video, isn't pretty. :D The trick is to force caps to spread their turret fire around by sweeping in with different groups from multiple directions. Concentrated strike groups are quite vulnerable when closing towards capital ships because the caps can bring most of their turrets to bear in one region -- once the strike group has closed and launched missiles/torpedos and has begun strafing/circling around for more passes, it becomes more difficult for the cap turrets to lock-on in the melee, although they tend to still get some (lucky:p) kills.

The turret AI is pretty neat, each one will tend to cycle after it's own individual target (if there are many targets) unless directed to concentrate on a specific target and even then, any turrets that can't fire at the specified target due to it not being within their firing arc/line of sight, will take pot shots at targets of opportunity!

In one of the Longbow tests I did recently, I launched a concentrated strike group of 20 craft (8x Longbows and 12x Thuds) against two UBW Cruisers in close formation. The Thuds were slightly ahead of the Longbows and bored in with full guns, drawing the bulk of the fire -- one blew up before getting a chance to fire off its salvo and another one took a critical rear hit as passed over the bow of the lead cruiser. By this time, the Longbows are launching their torps... BOOM... scratch one bow, another goes up shortly after releasing it's deadly payload...

After the first cruiser was destroyed, I had lost half of the strike force, although this was largely due to the attrition of multiple bombing runs -- a couple of direct torpedo hits from the first strike should take out a cruiser, but because of the way capship hull strength is configured in this build (which has no capship shield system), their hull strength is a combination of their armour and shield rating, which makes the torpedo damage value too low as they are meant to bypass shields (which they would do if a capship shield system could be implemented). So, at the moment, the torps are much less effective and need to be reconfigured, as well as capship hull values to make it more reflective of typical WC gameplay.

I haven't heard anything yet about the music issue -- I'll reply more fully on this tomorrow hopefully.

Cheers,


Bryn
 

Mincemeat

Doomsday's Neighbour
HW and HW2 are based on completely different game engines. So, a bit of hunting around in the bargain bin should suffice :)
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
MajorCamKollent said:
I'm going to take a wild guess and say that this mod won't work for the first Homeworld.
Yeah, as Mincemeat said, I don't believe the mod will work with HW1, which precedes HW2 by a good 4 years or so by my recollection.


Progress Update

Work on the mod has been continuing, however my own testing and video compilation has slowed quite a bit over the last two weeks because of other demands.

Aaron has been busy tweaking features and amending stats significantly in a number of areas. For example, the next update to be rolled out for testing will equip fighters with a slight afterburner effect when in combat, which should add to the gameplay and together with the new balance/stats tweaks should make for an even better Wing Commander experience.

Aaron is not able to work on the mod for the next two weeks or so and was not able to distribute the latest update for testing, so when he can return to the mod, there should be quite a bit to report. We've decided to hold off on releasing the current Extended Preview videos in the pipeline, because of the large stat changes due in the next update. In the meantime I want to get the tribute video finished (yes, I know I've been saying this for weeks! :p ) and if all goes well, I have a few other things planned to keep the ball rolling until Aaron is back online.

For the moment, I've compiled a batch (5.56MB Zip) of over 80 high resolution (1600x1200) screenshots from some recent testing, but am having trouble uploading it. I've attached some samples below and will post the link to the zip archive here when I can get it online. I have managed to upload a RAR archive to a different host, but not every extraction utility can unpack RAR files -- unrar and 7-Zip, (both freeware) will.

The RAR archive is available here: http://www.rarhost.com/download-h7bvxe.html

Cheers,


Bryn
 

Attachments

AD

Finder of things, Doer of stuff
BrynS said:
For the moment, I've compiled a batch (5.56MB Zip) of over 80 high resolution (1600x1200) screenshots from some recent testing, but am having trouble uploading it. I've attached some samples below and will post the link to the zip archive here when I can get it online.
I noticed that the arrows have the paintjob from the Cloaking arrows in wc4 that (presumably) the black lance fly. Is there going to be cloaking in this mod? The regular confed arrow is green (in wc4).
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
AD said:
I noticed that the arrows have the paintjob from the Cloaking arrows in wc4 that (presumably) the black lance fly. Is there going to be cloaking in this mod? The regular confed arrow is green (in wc4).
Good call, AD! :)

Yeah, Aaron (czacen) knows about the other Arrow paintjobs and will be changing the Confed version in a future update. Loaf's work in this thread, together with the able investigations of HCL, Quarto, et al has proven to be an excellent resource already. The 4views available here are great. I also suggested in my last testing feedback to Aaron that some of other shuttle paintjobs be implemented in future updates, such as the Marine green camo.

There will be cloaking in the mod. :D The first implementation (cloaking Excaliburs) can be seen in the first video of the mod released (13-minute, Gameplay Preview Trailer, July 2006) at the 6m:50s point. I believe the Excalibur will be the only Confed ship to have cloaking capability, while the Black Lance will obviously have the Dragon. I'll check with Aaron whether the standard Arrow and/or cloacking variants will be available for Confed and the Black Lance and whether or not any Border Worlds ships will have the capability as an upgrade.

Cheers,


Bryn
 
Last edited by a moderator:

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Howdy Bryn, thanks for the updates!

You mentioned turret targeting a couple posts back. What have you done exactly to make the turrets "smarter"? HW2 is known for having some cheap-ass AI, so you got me kinda worried.
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Hey LeHah,

I'm not that familiar with the turret AI in HW2, so it may be that the turret AI in the mod is exactly the same. As I mentioned a bit further up, I've been rather impressed with the way that capship turrets currently track independent targets and the balance/feel of the way they react and fire upon incoming fighters and bombers is consistent with WC gameplay, i.e. the more nimble fighters tend to avoid more of the turret fire, especially when attacking in large numbers, but a glancing blow does varying damage and a direct hit from an AMG is deadly.

A couple of weeks back Aaron mentioned tweaking some of the turret AI on the cruiser because one or two of the rear turrets weren't firing properly, so there may have been further tweaks -- I've asked Aaron about this in my last e-mail. Aaron has mentioned that targeting priorities (e.g. light fighters to target incoming torpedos first then bombers, etc) will be implemented in a future update, so they could presumably be carried over to the turret AI (e.g. target torpedoes then heavy figters then bombers, etc) as well.

Cheers,


Bryn
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Thanks for clearing that up for me, BrynS.

Heres an odd question - I don't know if this has come up earlier in the thread but I'm assuming this mod is only taking material from the game, and not the book as well?

I ask because I was talking to WildWeasel this morning on AIM - and I was reminded that the novel mentions the UBW having the ability to send non-jump fighters through a jump point by using a freighter (My memory isn't great on it, I can clairify once I get home - but it's at the start of the chapter where Blair has just defected to the UBW).

Also - will this mod make use of the "sensor scramble capship" featured across a couple of the later missions?
 

Bob McDob

Better Health Through Less Flavor
LeHah said:
Thanks for clearing that up for me, BrynS.I ask because I was talking to WildWeasel this morning on AIM - and I was reminded that the novel mentions the UBW having the ability to send non-jump fighters through a jump point by using a freighter (My memory isn't great on it, I can clairify once I get home - but it's at the start of the chapter where Blair has just defected to the UBW).
Yeah, it's from Chapter Seven, page 168:

An obsolete corvette with a large parabolic antennae that looked to have been salvaged from an obsolete orbiting microwave power station seperated itself from the main body. The huge dish oriented itself towards the jump point, looking like a massive sail on top of the small ship.​
Two Border Worlds fighters, a damaged Rapier and an early model Arrow, emerged from the jump point and oriented towards the carrier. Feedback discharged from point to point across the dish, matching the jump point's characteristic blue flare.​
He [Blair] had heard rumors that secret experiments had been under way towards the end of the war that would allow cap ships to open small rifts in the jump points, rifts just large enough for fighters to pass through as a means of cross-system raiding. He was gratified that, for a change, the rumors had turned out to be true.​
I'm not quite certain there would be any way to implement this, though, since AFAIK Homeworld makes no distinction between strike and capital-class ships when it comes to the use of jumpgates.

The novel is full of other neat stuff, such as the Black Hellcats which could act as a Black Lance light interceptor, and some of the most detailed descriptions of combat in any source, particularly in the climactic battle between the Intrepid fleet and the Vesuvius (in some ways it even manages to out-fleet action Fleet Action). This particular passage, from Chapter Thirteen, page 325, has long reminded me of Homeworld, and I always thought that in the event a WCIV mod were made that it would be a sight to see:

Neat lines of Confed ships aligned themselves into squadron Vees, only to have a section of Hellcats they'd [UBW] captured from the Princeton slash through the formation. The ships ripple-fired their missiles, causing destruction out of proportion to their numbers. Five or so Confed fighters gang-fired in a string of yellow-red explosions.​
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Thanks for the page references, Bob. :)


LeHah said:
Heres an odd question - I don't know if this has come up earlier in the thread but I'm assuming this mod is only taking material from the game, and not the book as well?
I don't think the question has come up in the thread yet and as far as I know, Aaron has based the mod solely on the game so far, although this doesn't mean that elements of the novel, such as the neat passage you mentioned and which Bob further referenced, can't or won't be integrated into the mod, especially when they further develop the gameplay and complement the game.

Aaron mentioned his plan for each faction's ship list and role about two months ago here:
Confed
Border Worlds
Black Lance

While Confed's listing has changed very little and remains the current focus, there have been some changes and the listings are by no means set in stone -- if a requested feature is possible to implement and balance, then we'll make every effort to get it integrated. I think I suggested at least one change to Aaron based on the novel a couple of week's back for Confed, but would think that it (the novel) would have a larger influence when the UBW and Black Lance factions are tackled in testing.

One recent change due in the next testing update concerns the construction and deployment of jump buoys. Initially, they were constructed at the Confed HQ and were movable a single time to the desired destination once complete. To increase the utility use of scout transports, we've decided to make them the only unit able to build and deploy jump buoys instead of the H.Q. While the scout transport is essentially a (very weak and modular) military unit, the fact the base hull is used for other variants (e.g. civilian medical transport [Amadeus] from the WC4 intro, Black Lance Jammer, etc), it would seem conceivable that such a ship might be used by Confed Exploratory Services in charting jump points and deploying buoys, so in this instance, we've tried to merge functionality where it makes sense.

I don't believe that Aaron has read the novel and I only managed to get hold of a copy earlier this year, but it's definately something worth integrating where it's complimentary and achievable. I think the focus is still the game, because sticking to the novel completely would mean, amongst a few other changes, dropping some of the iconic designs from the game, such as the Banshee, Avenger, Vindicator, Bearcat, etc that were represented differently or omitted in favour of the Ferrets, Sabres and other "older" craft mentioned as being on the Intrepid in the novel. Not that their inclusion would be a bad thing and who knows, if Aaron's still working on the mod in a year or two's time and continues to pump out his excellent models, he may have worked his way through all the ships in WC4, WC3, WC2 and WC1 by then! :p

Anyway, if you guys think we've missed something significant or interesting from the novel, please let us know, as above, in the thread. :)


LeHah said:
Also - will this mod make use of the "sensor scramble capship" featured across a couple of the later missions?
Yeah, the jammer ship is due to appear as a Black Lance unit.



Bob McDob said:
I'm not quite certain there would be any way to implement this, though, since AFAIK Homeworld makes no distinction between strike and capital-class ships when it comes to the use of jumpgates.
In the current test build, all Confed capships can still hyperspace around the map and some can also hyperspace between two linked jump buoys. Once finalised, Confed capships (and presumably the other faction's capships) will only be able to hyperspace (with WC jump sound & fx) between linked jump buoys that they control, if that particular capship class has it's jump drive upgrade researched. Confed Excaliburs can currently use jump lanes with their jump drive upgrade researched and shuttles can also use jump lanes.

I haven't started testing UBW units in this manner yet (as the modelling and scripting is still ongoing) and the listing that I linked to above for UBW units doesn't mention any of their fighters being jump capable, so there's an opportunity there to integrate a solution similar to the one referenced in the novel.

I suppose there are a couple of options that can be investigated once the focus shifts to the UBW faction. One could be to specifically construct a jump corvette for the Border Worlds that allows any fighter to use a jump lane provided it's within operational range of the corvette. Another possibility would be to have the capability available as an upgrade to their Radar Array or simply as a blanket upgrade that applies to all fighters once researched? I'll speak to Aaron about implementation details.


Bob McDob said:
The novel is full of other neat stuff, such as the Black Hellcats which could act as a Black Lance light interceptor...
Yeah, I see Aaron planned to have the Razor in that role, but I'm sure we can work something out. Perhaps replace the Black Lance Thunderbolt with an uprated Black Hellcat or include it as a specialised scout craft as an upgrade? Once the testing focus shifts to the Border Worlds we'll be able to better see where each unit can fit in.


Bob McDob said:
...This particular passage, from Chapter Thirteen, page 325, has long reminded me of Homeworld, and I always thought that in the event a WCIV mod were made that it would be a sight to see:
I can say now that the mod is going to be an amazing sandbox for Wingnuts in playing out such scenarios! :D The ripple-fire missile effect might need to be specifically programmed, but even with some slight AI tweaks in recent updates, I've watched some amazing dogfights unfold as well as some surprisingly involved maneuvres. Things can only improve as new units come online and stats are tweaked!

EDIT: I almost forgot, I've managed to upload the original and more widely accessible zip archive of the high resolution screenshots to FileFront today -- seems they were overhauling the hosting interface/backend over the past few days, which is why I had trouble uploading. You can grab the zip archive (5.57MB) here: http://files.filefront.com/HQ_Image_Pack_1zip/;5465442;;/fileinfo.html


Cheers,


Bryn
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
BrynS said:
I don't believe that Aaron has read the novel and I only managed to get hold of a copy earlier this year, but it's definately something worth integrating where it's complimentary and achievable.
I just threw that out more as a question - though now that I reread my post, it sounds more like a... "recommendation". It wasn't my actual intention to sound the way I did.

I think there is something like "too much of a good thing". Just because theres extra stuff in the novel, doesn't mean it needs to be used. However, I do think that the UBW are going to be hard to balance into a worthy force while still keeping that "underdog" feeling and maybe that "jump ship" would help... or something.

(It's too late to be posting on the internet)
 

Chicken

Spaceman
Love the screens BrynS, already using a few as my desktop images. Let me know when you've got some WC4 menu screens, I've reinstalled HW2 and currently studying the UI so I get a good idea for a mock-up.
 

czacen

Spaceman
leave of absence

hi all,
i apologise for my extended leave of absence. i was asked to vacate my home and was running around with all sorts of confusion to try and get myself new accomodation. as a result my computer has been packed away and net connection deactivated untill i find new premises. im still on the hunt and it shld take me another week or 2 at the very least. the good news however is that i have not stopped work on the mod. i have been in touch with bryn and have updated him with the latest set of ships and add-ons. ive been working on the mod at a friends place. so far these are the latest ships in. expect pics as soon.

confed - arrow made into correct version

ubw - HQ (a converted form of an ella superbase with a capship bay at the rear)
Destroyer
Caernaven
Mining Transport
Jump Buoy
Outpost (a replica of the one that loaf managed to get pics of recently that was hidden within the game)

FX - all capship weapon fx and capmissiles are incorporated

Sound - WC4 Music downloaded and cleaned up by me in audacity and recomposed for the mod.

gameplay - both sides have proper build times and cost and balancing

ai - slightly improved ai for the computer when playing as ubw side.

i will be tackling the audio this week. i tried to extract the wc4 tre files with treman but have had no luck what-so-ever. can someone mail me a zip or rar with all the extracted battle chatter from the game? i think wedge has this archive. all battle chatter in whatever quality will be greatly appreciated. dont worry i have figured out a way to clean the poor wc4 audio up in audacity that works fantastically. or else can someone guide me on how to extract the Xtre files.
thanks in advance,
- aaron
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
czacen said:
i will be tackling the audio this week. i tried to extract the wc4 tre files with treman but have had no luck what-so-ever. can someone mail me a zip or rar with all the extracted battle chatter from the game? i think wedge has this archive. all battle chatter in whatever quality will be greatly appreciated.
As I recall, HCl's TRE Manager can still extract WC3/4's XTRE files, but without any name or format information. Still, I'm pretty sure it's possible to grab the sound files by opening the extracted IFFs as raw sound data - at least that's how I compiled my TRE Index so long ago... Failing that, I'm pretty sure the good old Game Audio Player (the link may only work intermittently), will do the job.

czacen said:
dont worry i have figured out a way to clean the poor wc4 audio up in audacity that works fantastically.
I presume that uses some sort of super-sampling feature of Audacity? I use it all the time, but I've never needed to do any 'cleaning up' before. I wonder if there's any benefit to doing that since it won't sound any better than the original 8-bit, 11 kHz mono samples unless you're doing a lot of mixing with music, other sound effects, etc.

Anyway, I only noticed this on the CIC's front page, I can't afford to spend much time on the forums these days. If you send me an e-mail (wedge009 # iprimus {dot} com <dot> au), I'll reply as soon as I can - much faster than if you just reply to the forum, anyway.

Good luck with the extraction - it can be tedious, but I know I had a lot of fun with it back then...
 

BrynS

Mr Kat says...
Thanks, Wedge! :)

Your TRE Index is a great help and I've had some luck with Game Audio Player. While it can't seem to playback all of the embedded WC4 audio files, it works with a significant portion of the files. Unfortunately I haven't made much progress with the extraction yet.


Testing Update

The latest update included some initial integration of a couple of music tracks from WC4 into the mod. The WC4 intro/main title composition is piped through when the game starts and loops (if necessary) through the menu and map selection screens -- as I said to Aaron, I got goosebumps the first time I heard it play when launching the mod! Once the map starts, it appears to randomly cycle through the currently available WC tracks, adding another immersive layer to the Wing Commander experience. There's no dynamic element to the music at the moment, i.e. changing tracks/tone, etc according to the action (loss of a ship, victory, melee, ambience, etc), but perhaps if it is possible to implement a similar system, it could always come further down the road.


Music Integration Video Sample


I've compiled a short (1 minute) high resolution (960x720 WMV HD) video showing the new music integration. It's just over 11MB and can be downloaded here.

Due to the higher resolution and codec bitrate, more CPU processing power is required than the previous videos, although most PC's released in the last 2-3 years should be able to play it smoothly. On my rather old rig (Single Core Athlon XP 2400+/2.0GHz, 1GB RAM, ATI X1600Pro) the video results in between 60 to 75% CPU usage during playback.

If your PC can playback the above video smoothly then I'd recommend downloading the HD version of the upcoming UBW Preview. ;) There'll be a less CPU-hungry SD version too. :)

Cheers,


BrynS
 
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