Hellcat Masterfully Modded into WCA Update ID

Howard Day and HCl have taken the wraps off an exciting fan project! They have released screenshots of their success in adding a Hellcat V into Wing Commander Academy. HCl provided much of the technical muscle while Howard created an awesome WC2-style interpretation of the modern WC3 cockpit. The first four screenshots are straight out of Academy, and then there's a WC3 image for reference. And while it's cool enough just to see how they pulled this off, some of the real potential might be in the renewed enthusiasm for WC mods of the older games in the series. You can read up on the progress at HCl's website or let them know what you think at the CIC Forums!
Although it's been a while since I focused on the earlier WC games, the earlier sprite-based WC games are still among my favorites. Back when I was 16, I started my WC-editing days digging through the WC1 and WC2 files, hacking weapon stats and mission files in order to create new battles and stories in the WC universe, and for years I've been promising myself that I would do a small mod for WC1. The idea ended up changing a bit during the years, and although it remains on my To-Do list of WC-related tasks, it's been pushed down for years in favour of other tweaks for the more recent games.

Recently however, the WCA GOG release, coupled with my research digging through the SWC data a while back back, ended up motivating me to revisit something that I always wanted to do, and that in a way would play a part in my small WC1-mod that never was: I decided to try my luck at building a ship importer. Since the formats are so similar (and the RLE encoding is the same for both games), I can kill two birds with one stone and support both WC1 and WC2/WCA, with only a change of palette and a small change on the file packaging logic.

I updated my site with some info and screenshots about this. For the curious, I can tell you that the import process was two-fold: first (since I'm not an artist, basically :p) I had to get myself a set of images that I could import into WCA. Since the Realspace geometry format is pretty well known, I coded a small script to generate a set of 37 images in WC2 palette that i could import. The result was pretty neat! Then it was a matter of coding the necessary scripts to code those 37 images as a valid ship file. I basically have another script for that, which reads an image like the one below, reading 37 160x120 "tiles", and codes a WC2 ship!

As you can see from the screenshots, the ship is playable in WCA right now! It only needs some decent stats and some tweaking of the engine exhaust flames.

Hopefully this will slowly grow into a WC2 mod, it would certainly like to see it happen :)

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