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

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
And the Kraken's plasma weapon from Prophecy?
That could most likely be done. It's a matter of upscaling a couple of FX I have in mind from the vanilla game, adding another shockwave effect to it and getting the weapon to have a large area of effect, the latter being done for example on the Morningstar's Mace, with absolutely hilarious effects in MP games (Oh, look, your big bomber strike force vanished in a flash, that's Maniac's magic!). The gun's loading scene could even be implemented ingame as there are humongous energy guns in the vanilla game with similar loading effects:


Note that this is what I used for the Behemoth, minus the pre-firing animation.

The only thing I guess could be an issue would be to have the area of effect taking time to hit the targets the further they are from the impact point. I suppose it could be possible to create invisible weapons firing later, over a couple of seconds and causing area of effect damage with larger and larger radius, but this would cause problems of their own.

There is another possibility, though, which links back to a breakthrough achieved recently on the Gearbox forums:



I think that one was, I believe, sort-of inspired from the Skipper missile code I posted there a couple of weeks ago (it might be unrelated, but there are similarities in spirit behind the code, though I don't really care as we're all sharing the stuff without issue). It simulates a torpedo weapon with some nifty code which creates a kamikaze ship that will be used against the enemy target. I've already repurposed that code to make a much more robust ammunition and fuel script (thanks to another helping hand who offered me a way to centralize all the values for fighters and bombers in-game in a single table) that doesn't need to go through some of the weird shit I was using until now. That code still needs to be tested and checked for stability, but it might solve many issues and allow me to go back to squadron structure for the planes.

In any case, if this works well, one alternative to the already very reliable weapon with AoE would be for the plasma gun to generate a plasma bolt "ship" that would sort-of kamikaze on its target, actually parking near the target, spawning a series of AoE attacks with bright FX at the centre, increasing in radius until the ship despawns. This could work but would be, IMO, an overcomplex way of doing things for a small result.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
I've already repurposed that code to make a much more robust ammunition and fuel script (thanks to another helping hand who offered me a way to centralize all the values for fighters and bombers in-game in a single table) that doesn't need to go through some of the weird shit I was using until now. That code still needs to be tested and checked for stability, but it might solve many issues and allow me to go back to squadron structure for the planes.
So about this... it works. A clean code that doesn't exploit bugs, coincidences and other shit like that and the possibilities are nothing short of mind-boggling, in the sense that I will most likely need months to figure out the applications. Centralized, reliable, ammunition and fuel? It's the smallest thing of it.

Could I just remove missiles entirely from the mod to better use missiles.

So, in HW, missiles are a class of crafts, with their model and defined attributes, different from ships. They are spawned by specific weaponfire and so on. Here, I believe I am going to pull the Skipper route to the absolute extreme and remove most of these specific weapons, perhaps all of them (if I can find a way to accurately spawn multiple tube launches from the capital ships), from the game and replace them with the new script which will generate near the shooter a missile or torpedo. It would be definitely possible for fighters and bombers, which are much simpler in operation.

By using ships as missiles instead of missiles, the possibilities are much more interesting indeed. The cloaking from the Skipper was one among many (and, BTW, I guess I could configure now the Kamrani corvette to actually fire Skipper missiles from its torpedo tube, it wouldn't be too complex with the proper settings). For example, one could dynamically retarget the missiles in flight, meaning that a fighter squadron would check regularly for missile proximity, and if an enemy missile arrives, it would generate a decoy. That decoy could be scripted to force the missile to change route and crash on it. Something you couldn't do with a standard missile that is more like a destructible part of the weapon fire animation. Or you could have some ECM emitters that would force missiles to swerve away from an area, forcing you to use guns or dumbfire rockets. Or maybe missiles that split into several smaller missiles, but instead of all tracking the same target, each could track independent targets depending on a priority order inside the script. Or you could have a SEAD fighter that would automatically fire missiles targeting only turrets on the larger ships without having to select them manually.

What I do have now is a base script that allows my bombers to have the fuel part much better done (AKA I will be able to tinker their range more accurately) AND a torpedo system that will not get any false positive nor false negative when counting ammunition while allowing me to choose precisely the various parameters normally used in a weapon like range, rate of fire, type of targets, etc.

I will probably make the shift for fighter and bomber based missiles over the next few months (I'll need to redesign most of them from scratch and test them painfully as I'm diving into the unknown and I still do not know if it can work well against fighters and so on). For capital ship based weapons, the question is more difficult as most of them have multiple tubest from which torpedoes and missiles can be fired, and I have no idea whether it would be possible to specify several launch points in a playable way. I don't know where I'm going with this, but I guess I will keep you people posted.
 

FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
Sorry for double posting, but I have another question:
The WC3 demo missions cause an access violation error and a CTD. Is this an issue on my end or are these missions WIP as well?
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Sorry for double posting, but I have another question:
The WC3 demo missions cause an access violation error and a CTD. Is this an issue on my end or are these missions WIP as well?
... crap, I should pay more attention to what I upload. Sorry, people.

Long story short, the demo made by then relied on specific version of the fighters that are no longer working. Actually, I'll probably have to use the demo as a testing ground for the new missile system.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
OK, made some decisions here and there. To deal with a bug that appears when I want to fire my new "ship-missiles" vertically, I'll keep the VLS missiles as they are. This means the Confederation and Border Worlds destroyers as well as Border Worlds VLS modules will fire normal missiles unaffected by decoys or whatever trickery. On the other hand, I just tested successfully the nightmare of the Confederation: a Skipper-launching Kamrani-class corvette.

When you start playing, the Kamrani just has its turrets, which is already painful as most of us remember. Now, you can research the cruise missiles as soon as you have the Imperial Vanguard Station (Tier 1 Research Subsystem), which makes it able to shoot every 20 seconds or so a quite damaging missile designed around the new paradigm. Tested it, it works well and, most importantly, the AI attacks it naturally when it comes within range. But once you have the Sivar Temple (Tier 2 Research Subsystem), things become interesting, as you can research the Skipper missiles for the corvette, and it properly upgrades the launched missiles to actual, fully-working, Skipper missiles. And guess what? The enemy air wing had a lot more trouble intercepting it, the cloaking system interrupting its attacks. This should be really painful.

EDIT: got ship-to-ship torpedoes, capship missiles and Skipper working, testing now the anti-air missiles for the Caernaven-class frigate. Definitely a huge threat for fighters and bombers now, which is a good thing. Now to get them to work on fighters/bombers (with limited ammunition for them as well as torpedoes) and then the decoys (also limited in number, because why not). I will provide screenshots when I'll have more to show (I kinda hope I can get a better display of remaining ammunition than the current "health bar" one).

EDIT 2: I have finished a standardized strikecraft code that covers fuel, missiles, torpedoes and decoys now, with automated decoy drop (it's not dropping them in a perfect fashion, but it does happen and should be able to neutralize missiles here and there) while the fighters shoot missiles at one another, with a relatively limited effectiveness in dogfight.

The next thing will be to do a stress test with numerous fighters in combat and see whether it holds or if I'll cause a complete black-out over the entire Gulf of Mexico.
 
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L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
The Arrows have their WC4 colors rather than their WC3 ones.
(Are these still Scooby's from "The Darkest Dawn", only retextured?)
BEEEEEEEP! Wrong answer!

In the unit icon, on the bottom-left, you can see the stats of the units. In the normal game, you can see the speed in green, the firepower in red and the health in blue. Now, you can also see, in the second column and from top to bottom:

* the percentage of remaining fuel (90 % here),
* the remaining missiles (8 here),
* the remaining torpedoes (the Arrow doesn't have any, so it indicates so),
* the remaining decoys (24 here).

The indicators are all in real time and can give you a much easier indication of the logistical state of your strikecrafts. Once I will have perfected the decoy release mechanism, it will be a very nice counter to Kilrathi fighter spam, since Confed fighters tend to heve 4 to 5 times as many decoys as their Kilrathi counterparts. :)

EDIT: the decoys work just as planned now, being dropped every few seconds, having a good chance of luring missiles away. The stress test led to annoying but manageable results. Annoying in that with 40 groups of 3 Arrow flying around, the game stutters very slightly. It remains more than playable in Skirmish, but that would probably be bad for MP. I'll see if I can further optimize the code to reduce the load, particularly with the missile part (I'm restricting the main code to run as little as possible with various conditions).

EDIT 2: for the time being, I'll settle with having the time between iterations a bit longer. This means you will not have a perfectly updated status report from your fighters and bombers, but it shouldn't cause too much issues in terms of gameplay: the fuel is something that lasts minutes, the missiles and torpedoes reload over several cycles (I'll just correct the number of cycles accordingly) and the decoys... OK, some pilots will die because the missiles were launched and got to them before their decoy code could run, but noone likes unlucky pilots anyway!

EDIT 3: I've found a way to split the activation of the code and stop the game from calculating everything for all units at the same time. Now, one eight of the units will execute the code, followed by another eight after some delay, etc., until all units have updated their status, fired weapons, dropped decoys, etc., letting the cycle start anew. This will reduce the overall load and avoid an immersion-breaking situation where all fighters in the game fire their missiles at the same time, drop decoys at the same time, etc. Now it will be a series of events synchronized between part of the units. I have optimized some of the code and shared it with a big name modder for HW who could be interested into using it and whom I hope will find things to optimize in it.
 
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L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
I'm integrating the new code in every ship and, oh boy, I feel bad for Kilrathi and especially Border Worlds Militia pilots. There is something like fighting on a shoestring budget, but at some point, it feel criminal. Compare the scout fighters for each faction, people:

Arrow V: 8 missiles, 24 decoys, pretty decent chances of survival and dangerous armament in the long run.
Darket: 2 missiles, 6 decoys, you'll have to pray your first shots will hit their targets because if the fight keeps going, you're in trouble.
Ferret: 2 missiles, 0 decoy, you'll have to pray. Period.

This is emerging as a rebalance I did not expect, honestly. The Confederation strike crafts might be losing in terms of originality or special tricks, but they got a huge amount of weaponry available. Their fighters all have 24 decoys or more (30 with the Excalibur) while most fighters and bombers of the other factions are thoroughly lacking in terms of self-protection capability. This gives to the Confederation a massive advantage in lasting power here: assuming a Kilrathi or Border Worlds unit survives a few missile exchanges, it will have most of its storage depleted while its Confederation equivalent will come back asking for more because it still has more missiles and decoys. Hell, even advanced Kilrathi fighters are still at a disadvantage compared to the Confed crafts when it comes to ammunition (the Ekapshi has 4 missiles and 6 decoys, the Strakha has 5 missiles and 6 decoys).

A fighter like the Excalibur is now looking like a massive gamechanger for the Confederation, to the point I feel like nerfing it hard in terms of deployment cost and/or availability. It has 12 missiles and a whopping 30 decoys in addition of unlimited fuel. Combine it with its cloaking device and extreme gun armament, you have the perfect mixture of space domination. Not just superiority but pure domination, as it can stay, patrol for a very long time and outfight everyone else without getting short of ammunition for a very long time. Your best chance against it will be to swarm it with a lot and a lot of fighters and overload its decoy-dropping capability to get a missile hit or two.

Also, micro-managed bombers can become interesting in a missile gunship role now, as Paktahn (14 missiles) and Longbow (16 missiles) can take potshots very regularly on enemy targets, particularly during a massive furball.

I will have to tinker with things a bit, but I think there is a new balance shaping up with the following philosophies:

Terran Confederation: expensive fighters with very high lasting power, statistically most likely to remain standing in the end, capital ships better at close range combat.
Kilrathi Empire: numerous expendable fighters covering a highly powerful fleet of capital ships with strong firepower and special long range missiles.
Union of Border Worlds: very cheap and very expendable (read "suicidal") Militia fighters covering cheap but decent mainline fighters (Banshee, Vindicator and Avenger are almost on the level of Confederation crafts in terms of lasting power) and flexible capital ships using hard to intercept missiles.

(Upcoming) Black Lance: expendable but acceptable Pirate equipment followed by very expensive fighters with similar lasting power to Confederation equipment, and a handful of highly efficient capital ships. Plus the Dragon/Lance that is pretty much an Excalibur with torpedoes.
 
not sure the Excal would have unlimited fuel. Remember in WC3 they had to stop at asteroid depots to repair, rearm, and refuel. I would agree that the lance should have unlimited range as it has a micro M/AM reactor in it.

in order to restore some parity to the UBW, you might give them some upgrades that reflects their resourcefulness, like . Or they get more resources from convoys etc.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
not sure the Excal would have unlimited fuel. Remember in WC3 they had to stop at asteroid depots to repair, rearm, and refuel. I would agree that the lance should have unlimited range as it has a micro M/AM reactor in it.

in order to restore some parity to the UBW, you might give them some upgrades that reflects their resourcefulness, like . Or they get more resources from convoys etc.
Good point, though the Excalibur is likely to still have a huge fuel reserve.

For the UBW, they have the turret upgrades and two big things that come from the new missile system. For reasons I do not understand, it cannot work effectively with upwards-launched missiles, so the VLS from the upgraded UBW ships will remain pure Homeworld missiles instead of hybrid ship-missiles. This will make them much harder to target by enemy crafts, unlike torpedoes and capship/skipper missiles. Also, the Morningstar nuke remains definitely and gloriously OP. If you have upgrades in mind, please share, I'm open for suggestions.

I am also debating about the Epee. See, the light bomber has one torpedo, two decoys and that's it. I'm wondering now if I should keep that torpedo a light one with reduced damage (to be upgraded at a massive cost to a normal one for spam purposes) or actually make it a normal one, assuming the bomber will never get to its destination. I'll probably keep it a light one, though, since it remains a fast craft.

EDIT: I have now finished modifying the code of all available units in the vanilla mod (not in Secret Missions 1) and I foresee some debugging (as always) and a lot of stats tinkering now.
 
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FekLeyrTarg

Rear Admiral
I had a look on "Unknown Enemy" again, which still works on Win10 if you set it's compatibility mode to Win95.
The UBW Epee has 2 Tachyons (instead of the Particles like in WC2), 2 Darts, 4 Javelins, one light torpedo, a heavy Stormfire and 12 decoys.

Perhabs you could have a look on "Unknown Enemy" to see what kind of upgrades the classic fighters received by the UBW Militia to make them a force to be reckoned with even against the Nephilim. I think UE could serve as a fine inspiration for the UBW fighters in "Flag Commander". :)
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
I had a look on "Unknown Enemy" again, which still works on Win10 if you set it's compatibility mode to Win95.
The UBW Epee has 2 Tachyons (instead of the Particles like in WC2), 2 Darts, 4 Javelins, one light torpedo, a heavy Stormfire and 12 decoys.

Perhabs you could have a look on "Unknown Enemy" to see what kind of upgrades the classic fighters received by the UBW Militia to make them a force to be reckoned with even against the Nephilim. I think UE could serve as a fine inspiration for the UBW fighters in "Flag Commander". :)
Well, the whole concept behind the Epee was to have a cheapo torpedo bomber that was fast but virtually harmless against anything bigger than a corvette, but with the big upgrade, its torpedo would become a normal one, which means you could spam dozens and dozens of them for a small price, overwhelming enemy defences with tons of torpedoes and kill virtually anything with a bomber Zerg rush.
 
possible upgrades:
  • One-shot cloaks, any fighter or bomber unit can be upgraded to have a clock that has a limited duration and has to be re-purchased before it can be used again.
  • field repair: Player can spend x RUs and instantly repair 10% hull damage or subsystem?
  • distributed systems. Because UBW techs use anything they can to fix their ships it makes it harder to knock out cap ship subsystems but also harder to repair (10% damage resistance +15-20% repair time) or you could invert this and make it easier to damage subsystems and easier to repair them.
for the Epee, it was always sort of a glass cannon. Id give it a stronger punch but leave it weak defensively. As it stands it's basically useless until you upgrade it So its kind of a wasted slot on the tech tree. Also, zerg rushing is more a Cat tactic IMO, the UBW wouldn't have the resources to waste on zerg rushing cap ships. Just my two cents.
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
possible upgrades:
  • One-shot cloaks, any fighter or bomber unit can be upgraded to have a clock that has a limited duration and has to be re-purchased before it can be used again.
  • field repair: Player can spend x RUs and instantly repair 10% hull damage or subsystem?
  • distributed systems. Because UBW techs use anything they can to fix their ships it makes it harder to knock out cap ship subsystems but also harder to repair (10% damage resistance +15-20% repair time) or you could invert this and make it easier to damage subsystems and easier to repair them.
Interesting ideas. I will have to see if I can implement the first one in a way that can be used by the AI.
 
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