Wing Commander Saga Plus Pack development started

Luke

Captain
Hi all

After a long break we started now our second project, the Wing Commander Saga Plus Pack (short: WCSPP).

What exactly is the Plus Pack? It contains all new features, improvements and bugfixes from our first project "Wing Commander Saga Deutsch" (short: WCSD) and will upgrade the international (english) version of WCS to WCSD level. Below you can see a few of these new features/changes.

Develeopment and organisation will executed at our domain wcsaga.org. There we have a secure webspace, message board and some internal dev tools. First i want to introduce the current WCSPP team members (in alphabetical order). In the next weeks/months we want to add more members for the departments like Betatest.

Death Angel - implementation, graphic design
Luke - implementation, programming
MajorSpawn - mission design, programming
RaudiXO - translation, implementation

Now we are in the planing phase. So we will see what duties we have exactly and what jobs we must fill. In the near future you will read here more from our team member RaudiXO, he is now the spokesman from the WCSPP project... and the man with the much better english than me. ;)

Enough of that, let's show the pictures. The screens are from the WCSD project so the language is german of course.

The new welcome window for new pilots:
WCSD_01_Hauptmenü_Willkommen.jpg


The new Extras-Menu for the WCS+ features, here with the Fiction Viewer tab:
screen0877.jpg


Our version of the barracks:
WCSD_16_Pilotenquartier.jpg


The new medals box:
WCSD_17_Medaillen.jpg


The improved database with ship data, category titles, new-markers and better font.
WCSD_18_Datenbank_1.jpg


The subtitles:
WCSD_15_Untertitel_Zwischensequenz.jpg


The new ready room with the section for the new text briefing:
WCSD_10_Einsatzbesprechung_1.jpg


The improved Fiction Viewer:
screen0878.jpg


A dark box for the radio messages with changeable transparency for brighter scenes:
screen0871.jpg


Wojo's Debris Mod:
screen0096.jpg


... and more.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Looks good! Will you be addressing any of the gameplay issues (i.e. the occasional badly designed mission and dialogues), or are you trying improve the original without altering the content as such?
 

Luke

Captain
Hi Quarto

Well, WCSPP should be the same like WCSD, but for the international WCS version. So we don't change anything story related. We have tons of changes and improvements and we want to implement them completely into english WCS. We also have a few changes dialogue related.

1. At M18 (Kinney) there was several changes: a) the long ride to the kinney can be skipped after the first run. b) the silly southpark joke was removed by altering the voice files and text. Absolutely no one from our team liked this joke because it ruinied the dramatic of this scene. c) the skippers will be visible a bit longer.
2. At M19 at the beginning of the mission there was a radio chat between Sandman, Psychopath and Buttcheck with some "gaps" because there are removed radio messages tells the player, that he is a leader in this mission, and that is not true. We filled these gaps by reactivating the missing radio voice files and altering these files and texts and removed the reference to "leader".

Simple formula: WCSD is 99,99% of the original WCS Story and WCSPP will be 100% WCSD. ;)
 
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Whistler

Commodore
I could use a few less capship missiles being shot at those 5 Transports but that's just me.

I'll sign up for testing.
 

Luke

Captain
@Whistler

Sorry for the late answer, i have a lot to do with business and private things at the moment.

Welcome on board. :) Please register at wcsaga.org forum so you get access to the beta area in the next weeks. After you registered you can change the language to english. If you have problems with that point or with registering, tell me.

@gargamel314

:) Well, the WCSD team has needed a long break after the WCSD release and we speak all german as first language. Now we recruit some new members with fluent english to realize the WCSPP project.

@all

RaudiXI our spokesman is currently in vacation until end of august so i try to answer instead. Please have patience. I "speak" several languages, but all machine languages, not human languages. ^^
 

RaudiXO

Spaceman
RaudiXI ??? Gonna have to sleep over this.. Luke, you owe me some! ;)

@all
As mentioned, please have patience. There's still some unfinished stuff; we'll keep you informed.
I'll start an official beta testing recruitment thread here when I'm back home; we need native english speakers for quality testing.

So long.. Greetings from Greece, where the wheather is nice and the internet connection is ... well.. greek.
Have to pass the bell wire.. cu
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
I strongly, strongly believe the best thing you can do for this fan game is to try to get it to run off the main FSO project which has left the saga fork completely in the dust. On top of the latest graphics improvements (such as deferred lighting) and so many other engine improvements, this would bring back multiplayer support, and multi-platform support. There even was a partially successful attempt at the saga forums. At least then the work of further engine improvements would be done for you...

http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?topic=85375.0

I still believe forking was the worst decision that the saga team made and completely short sighted.
 
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Jdawg

Commodore
I loved saga one of my favorite fan made games of all time and you already are fixing my two of my major issues with it. I cant wait to play it again with the updates. thanks luke and team
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I still believe forking was the worst decision that the saga team made and completely short sighted.
Truly! Spoken like someone who's never experienced the joys of trying to bring a project to successful completion while dodging unexpected code updates that break existing features and insert surprising new bugs :).

I may object to some of the design decisions made by the Saga team, but I've definitely got their back on this one. There is nothing short-sighted about sacrificing long-term improvements for the sake of being able to release a bug-free product in the short term.
 

-danr-

Vice Admiral
I wonder if I'm alone in saying, the only reason I've never played Saga is because it lacks cockpits. No disrespect intended.
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
Truly! Spoken like someone who's never experienced the joys of trying to bring a project to successful completion while dodging unexpected code updates that break existing features and insert surprising new bugs :).
Not entirely true, I have myself experienced issues from upstream projects with my fiddling around on XBoard. I didn't go forking the whole GTK+ project because they did something I didn't like. Usually you just got to grit your teeth and bear with it or send the upstream project a pull request. You know, be a good FOSS citizen. The solution isn't to fork the upstream project unless you want to be responsible for maintaining the upstream project as well — which I don't think they were in any meaningful way. Forks are for making your own changes with the intention of merging back. Otherwise it's generally considered bad form unless there are extenuating circumstances, and even then, it very often leads to bruised egos. Look no further then Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice to see what I mean.

Besides, they had a whole community of people working alongside them on FSO — people who made patches for them and their project. It's a bit disingenuous to describe the situation as if the Saga team had no contact with the rest of the FSO team and had no say where it was going. FSO is extremely accommodating for the various major mods working with them. Saga splitting was something unheard of in that community, and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Especially when they didn't make their changes public. Therefor I stand by my statement. Just because something is easier, doesn't make it right.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Besides, they had a whole community of people working alongside them on FSO — people who made patches for them and their project. It's a bit disingenuous to describe the situation as if the Saga team had no contact with the rest of the FSO team and had no say where it was going. FSO is extremely accommodating for the various major mods working with them. Saga splitting was something unheard of in that community, and rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. Especially when they didn't make their changes public. Therefor I stand by my statement. Just because something is easier, doesn't make it right.
Well, conversely, just because something upsets people doesn't make it wrong :).

I think in this case, the core misunderstanding is between the idea of a platform, and the idea of a game. If you're working on FSO as a platform, where the goal is ongoing development forever and ever, with no clear end in sight - then sure, forking away is going to be a bad choice. But that was never the purpose behind Saga - nor should it have been. The creators of Saga wanted to make a game. And they wanted to make it by a particular point. They didn't want to keep developing it ad infinitum. Saga was made using FSO, but it could just as easily (probably more so :D ) have been made with WCP. Or it could have been made on Unreal - that wasn't entirely a viable option when they started out, but it certainly was by the time they finished. And hey, wait another couple of years, and it could have been Unity. For Saga, FSO platform development was irrelevant - all they wanted was to use a platform to make a game, and they chose the one that worked best. There was no upstream project for them. It was irrelevant. And that's the way it should be.

I also think that if people on the FSO team were rubbed the wrong way by this, then they need to take a reality check and think about what their own purpose is. When you're developing a platform, it should not be your purpose to chain everybody who comes along into ongoing development, as though they were galley slaves or something. All those external projects being developed on FSO are clients - just like I'm a client if I develop a game on Unity, and it's nobody's business to tell me that I must constantly use the latest code and share my own code with the main project. Now, I'm sure many projects being developed on FSO were more than happy to play the long-distance game and suffer for the sake of the community. That's nice - I don't mean that in a sarcastic way, I genuinely mean that it's nice of them. But it's more than can be reasonably expected, when the whole point of developing a platform like FSO is to give people the opportunity to come in, take the engine at a point when it's convenient to them, and make a game. And don't go saying that Saga didn't give anything back to FSO for what they got, either. Saga got FSO more publicity than a hundred other projects did. Saga, for all of its flaws, was a complete and finished game - I haven't looked into this at all, but why do I have a sneaking suspicion that there's only a few other FSO projects of comparable scope that were actually completed? :)

Edit: let me illustrate this with a well-known gamedev example, too. Towards the end of Half-Life development, the decision was made to fork the code into the final release ("Gold"), and into ongoing development for future projects ("Source"). Do you think that the programmers assigned to the "Source" branch were upset with their colleagues in "Gold"? That anybody was rubbed the wrong way by the fact that, in trying to meet deadlines and release a working product, the "Gold" team was no longer willing to integrate all the latest work from the "Source" team? Was anybody upset by the fact that the "Gold" team, making quick-and-ugly hacks in the code just to finish up the game, held on to those hacks rather than sharing them with the main repository and making a mess the "Source" team would spend months cleaning up? :) Different needs, different purposes.
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
As someone who worked on Wing Commander Saga before it was down to only three people (myself not included, university got in the way and I left 2 years prior to release) and as someone who struggled to keep another FSO mod, namely The Babylon project, afloat and running (with most of the credits belonging to FUBAR-BHDR though), I can confirm to you that these things are hard, akin to what Quarto elaborated on.
The one thing were he is wrong is that FS0 is not really after developing a platform, their primary goal is developing stuff that runs Freespace and I think that is were some of the differences came from. There was definitely tension between FSO and the mods, both mods actually. TBP in particular was build on half-broken stuff and used more-than-half-broken assets and from a coder's perspective, it is a pain in the ass to support this especially given TBP's pretty-much-dead status.
For WCS on the other hand, development was progressing back in the day so I do not know exactly what happened. Furthermore, I really do not recall why we switched to our own builds eventually, I remember that it had something to do with additional features like the auto-pilot and taunting which was still on the agenda then. Ultimately, it proved to be the wrong decision as Saga is not really making use of any specific features anymore that are not supported by current FS0 to the best of my knowledge. From the mod's point of view, I can see why the coders may frustrate, from their point of view I can understand why constant feature demands that "I really need for that awesome mod of mine" are a problem.

The stuff that is thriving on HLP is everything Freespace, especially considering that some of those projects share people with the coding team.
 

wcnut

Rear Admiral
I should be fair, FSO codewise really was a mess to work with, particularly back then. I'm sure post Diaspora if you were to have started now, you would have had a much easier time of it, or at least more tools to try different not Freespace-like things. So I'm sure the temptation to fork was high. It looks like since they moved to GIT development has skyrocketed. It's just unfortunate that are now there are systems in place to do what you wanted.

@Quarto I understand, what you are saying, and absolutely that's a perfectly logical business decision for VALVE to make. But it's not like the Gold team was hiding their work from the rest of the company, or maybe it doesn't apply in this case. At least not here. In the open source world, you can't just take other peoples work, stand on their shoulders and not give back with your own work. It's not just a courtesy, it's often against the license. Otherwise that whole system would never work. What rubbed people the wrong way wasn't just that they forked, it's also that they didn't make their product opensource after they did. So now god knows what sort of loops Luke and team have to jump through, plus the many many extra hours to make the changes they want, often duplicating effort that was already made in the main branch. It's a tragedy is what it is.
 
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Quarto

Unknown Enemy
@wcnut hah, well, behaviour is a different aspect altogether... and far be it from me to claim that the Saga team has always been gentlemanly and appropriate in their actions ;). Certainly, there's no requirement to be open-source if you're a fan project (in Standoff, we never decided to release the source code for our mission scripts... though that was mainly just because we got tired of a tiny but obnoxious minority who acted like it was their divine right to have our code), and certainly FSO would not have benefitted from Saga's code (I can say this with relative certainty even though I've obviously never seen it - desperate pre-release code hacks are not pretty). But taking someone's open-source work and running off with it as though it was your secret is... definitely not appropriate.
 

Tolwyn

Vice Admiral
What rubbed people the wrong way wasn't just that they forked, it's also that they didn't make their product opensource after they did.
That's just wrong. The code was made available once it was finished. As in "finished". Also keep in mind that we submitted various features to FSO over the years, it is just that at one point our paths diverged, see explanation below.

For WCS on the other hand, development was progressing back in the day so I do not know exactly what happened. Furthermore, I really do not recall why we switched to our own builds eventually, I remember that it had something to do with additional features like the auto-pilot and taunting which was still on the agenda then. Ultimately, it proved to be the wrong decision as Saga is not really making use of any specific features anymore that are not supported by current FS0 to the best of my knowledge.
That's not exactly true - back in 2010/early 2011 Saga was esentially broken due to various hacks in the FSO and / or original FS2 code. We would fix one issue, submit it to FSO, wait a few weeks for approval due to FSO guidelines and in the meantime another two issues would rear their ugly head, sometimes caused by latest FSO changes (such as broken collision detection). I am sure Quarto will reiterate what I am about to say: you need a stable platform to work with, be it in game development or IT in general. There is no way you can produce a stable, bug-free product if the underlying codebase is constantly shifting - this is a challenge we are currently facing with Windows as a Service. To cut things short: back in 2010 / early 2011 we simply had no stable code base to work with and there was no way we would get all the features we need fixed in time to run proper beta testing.

It was not an easy decision, in fact I was initially against it - I've been with the FSO community since its inception and supported them where I could. But when faced with the prospect of finishing the game or not finishing it at all, a decision had to be made. Some gameplay design decisions aside, we ended up with a polished product, and in my eyes that is what matters in the end.
 

Vidmaster

Rear Admiral
Thanks for clearing that up Tolwyn, like I said I was not entirely certain what happened. Oh and, yeah I can feel your pain regarding Windows as a service :-(
 
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