Wing Commander Sprite Enhancement, Experimentation, and Information

Goliath

Rear Admiral
Woah, woah, woah... hold up! You're telling me one of the Prophecy modders is making Wing Commander 1 sprites now?! Two can play that game! Here is Prophecy's F-106 Piranha rendered as Wing Commander 1 sized sprites (with an added bonus of increasing the total render views to 312). Oh man, @DefianceIndustries is going to be mad that I used the original WCP Piranha model and not his fancy updated model, bwahahaha (just teasing ya man :D)!

piranha.gif


But in all seriousness, we're getting some nice results and I'm making some finishing touches to the script before release. I look forward to sharing it here when it's ready.
 
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Triple-B

Commodore
Is it just me, or does everyone else wonders that we have a heck full of models in all game variants but no new games to really use them ;)
 

L.I.F.

Vice Admiral
Is it just me, or does everyone else wonders that we have a heck full of models in all game variants but no new games to really use them ;)
What DI said:
Because new titles like total conversions or additional mods take time... ;) Lots of it.
Importing models in a game is not necessarly a straightforward job. For example, in my case, I have models from various sources, that can be summed to three big ones, the Wing Commander Saga team, DefianceIndustries and Klavs. Of the three, DI is the only one who made models with the Homeworld Remastered game engine in mind. The WCS models were made for Freespace 2, while Klavs’ models were so detailed and refined he probably never thought until a couple of years ago that someone would even attempt to integrate them in an actual game: they were there for showcasing, renders, scenes and the such.

Consider something such as turrets, for example. In Freespace 2, they are sub-models of the main models, with a specific file architecture inside the model to allow the game to use them. In Homeworld Remastered? Nope, I need them to be separate files, and the guns themselves are separate meshes too that have to be controlled individually. This means reworking the files heavily in a way unplanned by the original modellers. And then comes Klavs, who made the models without thinking the turrets would be animated by a game engine, which can lead to turrets being, in some case, fully part of the hull with no separation, so I have to cut, extract, fill, etc.

That’s only for the meshes. Then come the textures, which are not necessarly optimized for games.

So now you have the ships integrated in a way the game engine can actually display them in-game. Great! That doesn’t mean it’s playable. You need to write huge amounts of scripts to tell the game where the guns and engines are, or the runways, or how the turrets behave. And the weapons themselves. Or maybe the tech tree in a RTS so that you can research and build units in a game that has no Developper Kit and where most of the work is done through Notepad ++.

Integrating the whole thing to make the game barebones is one thing. That gives you an Alpha version. To go to Beta, you’ll need the little details like sounds, voices, music, in-game icons and graphics, a working AI that is adapted to your modded units’ peculiarities.

If you want to have single player experience such as campaigns and missions, you have to learn how to script these. For a 15 minutes-long mission, expect a good week of coding and testing until it can offer a core experience that fits the design idea, without any voiced dialogue or cinematics, of course.

Then you have the amusing reality that for most games being modded here, the people on this forum are among the most advanced devs for the games themselves, because a crapload of the features and functions we want to integrate to make the mods faithful to Wing Commander simply do not exist in these games that are no longer covered by their original devs, sometimes for two decades. We do not have access to the source code, so we have to experiment, bypass the engine in increasingly tricky ways, all the while keeping in mind that the game must remain stable, without lag and must do as much as possible without player interaction in said features. For example, it took me five or six years to come up with something as obvious as limited ammunition for bombers in a game that did not have such a feature.

Long story short, the models are, yes, a necessary element and all modders out there are incredibly grateful to the modellers who do such amazing work. But to go from models to games, there are still thousands of hours of work, a decent Total Conversion mod being more often than not a two years to a decade of work, depending on the number of people working on it, their teamwork potential - if they work well together - as well as their availability, the completeness of their global skillset, etc.

https://www.wcnews.com/chatzone/threads/wc4-mod-for-homeworld-2-in-the-works-june-5-2006.18930/ 2006 for the first announcement, 2016-2018 for a strong Beta status.
How long for Wing Commander Saga? Standoff?
 

Darkmatter

Rear Admiral
See, if there are already crazy awesome models then there's no point remaking what is already great. It's to bad the CIC can't let you have a look at the source code to see how to get around that sprite limit.

Personally I think 2 games should be done. A completely faithful WC1,2,&Priv in the engines they were made for, and one (hopefully) in Rebel Galaxy Outlaw that uses the same overall missions and story but in 3D and with a lot of things that would have been in WC1 and 2 and P if they had been made today. Large battles, capital ship on capital ship battles, useful weapons on cap ships etc, as a remake, not a remaster. The biggest issue with making it feel like WC is going to be the AI unfortunately.
 

Goliath

Rear Admiral
I'm back and your post was good timing @Skanks, lol. I did not intend to be away for this long and unfortunately have just been busy. Regardless, I was able to make some progress on the Blender sprite creation script I have been working on.

Before I get to that, I owe some long overdue thanks to the CIC and to Wing Commander fans for their consideration of this "sprite refresh" project for the 2018 Fan Project of the Year. Also, I'd like to give an especially huge thank you to my colleagues @Howard Day and @UnnamedCharacter for their work as their contributions were crucial in getting the results we did. There are so many neat fan projects out there and it is especially cool to have been tied with the Prophecy & Secret Ops Model Upgrade Pack team for second place behind the work of the Maslas Brothers on Wing Commander Flat Universe. Those are both incredible fan projects! So, let me express my thanks for all the interest and support and I hope people will look forward to future developments here.

Anyway, my primary focus on the Blender sprite creation script has been to get it ready for release. That's involved doing some code optimization as well as testing the script on various versions of Blender. I have been able to confirm that the script works on version 2.57 (which released in 2011) and should work on all versions all the way up to the current 2.79b and also 2.8 beta. That's 8 years of blender releases this script should work with so I think that should cover most Blender users, even if you have an old version installed. I found that 2.8 beta would crash quite a bit for me (unrelated to the script) but thankfully the script generated renders without any code modification and hopefully will still be true when 2.8 is out of beta. Once the script is ready, I will post it here along with instructions on how to use it.

In the meantime, I decided to do something a little fun and create sprites of Prophecy's Piranha to put into Wing Commander, replacing the Hornet. The renders come from the actual Piranha model used in Prophecy and I think the results are pretty neat! I will revisit the Piranha again when I create the script instructions and soon you'll be able to make your own Piranha sprite renders!

Piranha1.png Piranha2.png Piranha3.png Piranha4.png
 
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