The Ur-Quan Masters Discussion Forum

The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release => Technical Issues => Topic started by: Nicholai on January 28, 2007, 08:46:23 pm



Title: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on January 28, 2007, 08:46:23 pm
Hey,

Like a large number of people on here, I've played Star Control 2 to near-death with some regularity over the last fourteen years, and also suffered through a long period of not being able to run the game due to the advent of Windows 98.  (Resulting in my being ecstatic when UQM was released)

I probably just don't read the threads enough, but I haven't seen too many discussions about how depressing it is to already be completely aware of every single event in the game.  After a solid four or five years of not being able to play, I found myself still capable of beating Star Control 2 in the course of an evening.  Granted, I love every second of it, but I've often yearned for the feeling of stumbling across the Slylandro gas-planet for the first time again, etc. etc.


Anyway, I recently started poking around in the source code to see what I could do to the game...

Here's where I am right now in said game:

http://www.geocities.com/seph545/starmap.jpg (http://www.geocities.com/seph545/starmap.jpg)


 I remember having all manner of fantasies about finding the Androsynth, flying to 999.9 : 999.9 in Quasi-Space and miraculously locating a Precursor, and so on.  When I finally realized there was nothing left to discover, I was very sad, and dreamt of being able to modify the existing game in some way, since I was already convinced that a genuine sequel was unlikely.

In messing around with the source code, I've managed to already create an entirely new star map, with new constellations, a larger size (1500.0 by 1500.0), re-ordered spheres of influence with appropriate artifacts/planets located in them, changed alien text to correctly refernce new things, etc. etc.

Granted, in MAKING all of this, I now KNOW most of the new locations, so it's kind of moot... but still interesting.

I also changed ship stats, module/ship/crew/fuel prices, made my own planets (Diamond Worlds which appear white from space, covered in ORANGE 'exotic' minerals worth 16 RU, you know?) and all manner of other things to make the game more challenging / different  (such as you can now buy specifications for catalogue item 2418-B ships from the Melnorme to be built at the starbase)  Obviously, this is no substitute for a sequel or significant mod, but it's keeping me entertained.


So, anyway, the reason I ramble on about this is because I was wondering whether or not anybody else was working on anything like this, or am I just a completely desperate moron?  Heh.

Also, I was curious about whether or not there were any people out there who were more-experienced with the code who might feel like writing up directions on how to make, say, a new module, or make it possible to upgrade the Precursor vessel at the Syreen starbase, or anything else of that nature...

My hope is that if I exclusively play MY version for the next five years, I'll magically forget where everything is in the REAL game!  Of course, the sad reality is that I'll always know WHERE to go to find out where the Shofixti Maidens are, and I'll always know WHO to talk to to get repair items for the Ultron.   Oh well.

Any thoughts on any of this?

        ~ Nicholai


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: meep-eep on January 28, 2007, 09:11:09 pm
This is nice. Making the game more modable is one of the reasons we're doing this, so it's good to see people actually doing something more advanced than moving the date of the Kohr-Ah death march ahead 10 years, or making ships extra powerful.
And it's one of the reasons why TFB released the source too.

I know my way around the source code, so if you know a bit about C, I can point you to what you would need to change. It would be easiest if you would visit the #sc2 IRC channel on irc.freenode.org, so I can explain some things "live".


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: xSeRosiSx on January 30, 2007, 08:53:47 pm
So, anyway, the reason I ramble on about this is because I was wondering whether or not anybody else was working on anything like this, or am I just a completely desperate moron?  Heh.

Well I 'was' working on something 'like' what your doing, but that was quite awhile ago and since lost interest. My little mod would be just to Re-locate every homeworld, race, rainbow worlds, special interest worlds, and maybe put a couple starbases here and there or maybe create a new dead race to maybe spark an interest or prequel. But alas I got a huge headache and became bored.   :D

What you're working on looks really interesting, seeing your enlarged and completely re-arranged starmap makes me want to try my mod again, or at the most makes me want to play your Mod  ;D

I love the attention to the constellations and the design of the starmap, now i just want to see these 'diamond worlds' you speak of.

I hope to see your mod take off with the community ;)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Zeep-Eeep on January 31, 2007, 05:53:13 pm
Very nice. I found myself looking for star groups I'd reconize. A larger/random map could really
make the re-play value better.

Is it possible to make the locations more random, so even you don't know where
to find them?


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Monk on February 01, 2007, 01:24:52 am
Actually, here's a thought.  Have each new game create a random seed to generate where everything is.  You'd have to modify all the static text and item locations into something that could be replaced with a variable (I have no idea how the source code is doing it, just thinking aloud).  You'd also have to put some constraints on certain things, like the Mycon planets probably shouldn't be in Yehat space, that kinda stuff.  Anything that needs to refer to the location of the Shofixi survivor, for example, could just reference one variable instead of static descriptions/locations. 

Put it as an option at the start, warn the player it might take a few moments to generate a dynamic game map and locations, and you've got a whole new game.  Or at least, the same game but one you have to do actual detective work with again.

Potential problems I see with this include dialog that gives specific coordinates and dialog that mentions specific constellations as locations.  You might be able to get around this by defining certain structures for the randomization, i.e. you can randomly move a constellation, but the constellation shape itself must remain the same and certain locations within the constellation must remain, maybe just move it to a different planet or start within the constellation.

Sounds like it'd be a bunch of work to get the information available for someone to code, i.e. find out where in dialog certain locations must be mentioned/replaced, determine what star structures and relations must be kept, that kinda thing. 

Extending the content is awesome, but randomizing the original content would have the benefit of keeping the original canon intact without it remaining static.  Plus, if it's done well, code-wise, extended content could probably take advantage of the same system so that it, too, could be randomized if the player so desires.

Anyway, a ton of work and probably will never happen, but thought I'd throw the idea out there in case no one else already mentioned it.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on February 01, 2007, 03:11:53 am
Randomizing the locations, etc. of everything WOULD be the ideal option, and from what little familiarity I now have with the source code, it wouldn't be impossible to do.

But yeah, like you just said, the real problem would come from alien text that references specific constellations, or things relative to themselves.  For instance, the ZoqFotPik say "the source of the tumbling probes seems to be somewhere in a direct line with our star and Epsilon Muscae"  or something like that, and naturally, that's not true for my starmap.   Aliens also often reference things being "core-ward", or that there was a "mysterious world orbiting a pair of blue stars not far from here".

Historically-wise, there are also problems that come up (this applies to spheres of influence as well) -- such as various aliens' descriptions of the war, the final defense at Raynet, etc. etc., the relative distances between things,  or stories such as Captain Tanaka's about passing through VUX space, stopping at a "mysterious world" in the Sextantis constellation (in VUX space) on his way home to the Shofixti home star.  I did my best to make all of these things work out in my Mod, but it's not perfect.

Honestly, with enough messing-around, you could eliminate those SORTS of references such that it could work with a randomized star map, but I sure as hell wouldn't know the first thing about how to do it.

I'm not a HUGE fan of the starmap I wound up with; but it was really just a test.  At the moment, I'm focused on adding actual content to the game.  Thus far, I've made several new weapon/special modules for the flagship, and added a couple "questy" sort of things.  If anybody is interested in screenshots, I'll be happy to take a few.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Monk on February 21, 2007, 11:41:38 pm
Pictures!


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Death 999 on February 22, 2007, 10:31:44 pm
Nicholai: Many of these things could be solved by a bit of code done while setting up the rest of the map. You just have to know how many things need to be referred to in-game.

Also, I'd want the various races' spheres to be consistent with history. On the other hand, the real game's Ilwrath really wouldn't seem that way, being on the opposite side of the alliance from the rest of the hierarchy.

I'd figure some things to be the framework -- decide on a 'coreward' direction. Plop the Ur-Quan and Kohr-Ah down in the middle. Have the Burvix world be along the path of the Kohr-Ah, and the Thraddash somewhere upstream of where the Ur-Quan came from. Put the Druuge kind of near them, but not closer than the width of the Kohr-Ah sphere.

Don't put the Alliance in either of those two paths or in the corner implied by them. Put the ZFP somewhere in both Ur-Quan spheres.
Put Vela near Orz space. Put the VUX near the Orz. Put the Umgah near the Arilou.

That kind of thing.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Elvish Pillager on February 23, 2007, 11:12:27 am
On the other hand, the real game's Ilwrath really wouldn't seem that way, being on the opposite side of the alliance from the rest of the hierarchy.
I think the Ilwrath make perfect sense being there - they naturally move to wherever there's the most aliens to torment.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Death 999 on February 27, 2007, 07:35:20 pm
Hmm. I guess the Arilou presence doesn't really count as part of the Alliance line, in which case the Ilwrath homeworld really is on the 'right' side of it.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Valaggar on June 09, 2007, 02:24:29 pm
I guess the project's been abandoned, right?
(also, thanks the anonymous Guest browsing this thread which I was searching for some time, by using the "Who's Online" page I was able to finally get here again)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on June 12, 2007, 02:52:08 am
Hey,

Surprisingly, it's not abandoned yet!

I haven't had as much time to poke around with it recently, but it's still alive.  I'm more or less finished with all the things I wanted to incorporate (though some of them are a lot less complex than I originally fantasized, because I got antsy a couple of weeks ago and wanted to play it RIGHT THEN, heh).

The major changes I can think of off-hand that make the game differ from the original are:

- Several new missions (in addition to and much more difficult than the moon base mission) to earn Hayes' trust.
- Ability to converse with Fwiffo at any time, and occasionally get something useful out of him.
- A new "character" (akin to Admiral Zex, or Fwiffo) from a certain Hierarchy race...
- Four new modules offering new special abilities to your flagship.
- Access (via completion of a number of new story threads) to every Star Control II ship.
- Massive changes to game difficulty. (read: it's really hard!)
- Expansion of certain existing game-missions.  (you thought that getting the Mycon to fall for the Syreen trap was too easy...?  Me too!)
- New/larger starmap
- New planet-types
- Mineral colors shifted -- mineral values changed.
- Price changes for flagship modules, fuel, crew, support ships, Melnorme tech, etc.
- Complete obliteration of the usual trends (ie. you're probably not going to ally with the Spathi right away / you may meet the Supox rather quickly!)
- Multiple starbases.  (and, yes, you'll probably need them!)
- You actually have a legitimate reason to fear the Sa-Matra in battle.
- A bunch of other things I'm not thinking of right now...

In any case, it's all disasterously un-tested and probably buggy as hell.  I'd like to work on it some more and get it out so that others could mess with it some day...    (I think it's based on like, version 5.0 or something)

        ~ Nicholai

P.S.  A special thanks to Meep-Eep, who, for several weeks, listened and responded to my 24/7 bitching and whining about technical issues with the source code!


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: xSeRosiSx on June 14, 2007, 04:08:20 am
I can't wait to play this mod  ;D

from what it sounds like it's gonna be an awesome new challenge for all the SC2 fans


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Cedric6014 on June 14, 2007, 08:16:30 am
Sounds awesome Nicholai. I too am excited. Keep us posted with updates! Oh, If you've magicked up a graphic of a diamond world, please post a link!


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Valaggar on June 14, 2007, 10:34:51 am
Sounds like a HUGE mod! Keep it up! Don't let us down!


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on June 14, 2007, 06:43:28 pm
Hey,

Well, if there's still interest then, here are a few brief screenshots pertaining to the early missions at the beginning of the game:

(no spoilers below, really...  I didn't take pictures of anything too wacky)

http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-1.png
http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-2.png (red planet...)
http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-3.png
http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-4.png (purple planet...  Hmm... Oops.)

A screen from a little later in the game...
http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-5.png

And a Diamond World (which took me about twenty minutes of flying around to find.... argh)
http://www.geocities.com/seph545/sc2-6.png

Anyway, I started the Mod when I had just moved and was woefully unemployed!  Right now, I'm a bit distracted by work, etc. -- but I would like to get it finished up when the opportunity presents itself.

I'm glad that people think it's cool!  I had been wanting to play with the Star Control II source ever since I beat the game for the 400th time back in like, 1994.  I know next to nothing about programming or the C language, yet I'm managing to stumble through it and do some interesting things..... maybe I can motivate somebody who actually knows what they're doing to make an even better Mod!  Heh-heh.

       ~ Nicholai


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Elvish Pillager on June 14, 2007, 11:43:13 pm
maybe I can motivate somebody who actually knows what they're doing to make an even better Mod!  Heh-heh.

       ~ Nicholai

If I play it, it's good enough and if it strikes my fancy sometime... who knows  ;)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: AngusThermopyle on June 15, 2007, 03:45:45 pm
Looks really nice, Nicholai! Keep up the good work.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Death 999 on June 15, 2007, 06:16:39 pm
What is left to be done? Clean up plot threads and such?

By the way, I think it would be a good idea to have an off-site backup, just in case. It would be heartbreaking if something happened to it.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on June 16, 2007, 04:15:47 am
Hey,

Yeah -- there's not a lot left, but like I said, it's severely un-tested and highly likely to explode the minute somebody else tries to play.  I also need to play-test to balance out the ships, clean up a few known glitches, etc. etc...

I'd still like to add a few things here and there, maybe expand on some things that I sort of cut short because I was getting too excited, etc.  Most of what I've done so far, unfortunately, is just alter and add to what is already there, and I'd really like to put in a lot of brand new things.

What I'd REALLY love to do is change the mineral / RU system such that there is no longer one uniform currency.  (ie. I don't believe it's possible to build a fusion blaster out of water and iron, but then again, I'm not an engineer...)  -- Thereby giving purpose to every type of planet, because even in my version, it becomes pretty obvious prettly quickly which color/size of planets one should bother exploring, and which should be ignored.

But these are just my rambling fantasies.

Anyway, I'm going to try to wrap it up in the next few weeks.  Talking about it as much as I have lately has renewed my spirits! Heh-heh.

         ~ Nicholai


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: C. Bob on August 09, 2007, 11:24:21 am
Any progress on the project?


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Elvish Pillager on August 09, 2007, 01:18:03 pm
Evidently he doesn't live by the saying "Release early, release often." :P


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Valaggar on August 09, 2007, 02:33:48 pm
...A saying which does not work in this case. This mod is designed to be played once, at most twice, unlike, say, Elvish Pillager's Crazy Mod.
Thus, if someone plays it in its current state, he/she will greatly spoil his/her enjoyment of the mod. If he/she doesn't mind that and wants to help, he/she can simply join the project.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Lurker on August 09, 2007, 04:08:59 pm
Just noticed this... You've got one more player for this mod (when/if you release it, of course), just to let you know.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: chenjesummrnmhrm on August 12, 2007, 01:39:16 am
Nicholai said:
"(ie. I don't believe it's possible to build a fusion blaster out of water and iron, but then again, I'm not an engineer...)  "


It's possible, but you need a lot of iron.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Lurker on August 12, 2007, 12:46:22 pm
Nicholai said:
"(ie. I don't believe it's possible to build a fusion blaster out of water and iron, but then again, I'm not an engineer...)  "


It's possible, but you need a lot of iron.


And you can extract  hydrogen from the water = fuel for the fusion.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on August 15, 2007, 01:08:38 am
Hey-hey,

The Mod is still coming along...........  All I can say is that I've been much too busy to devote it the time it deserves.

I think a few months ago, I said, "Give it a few weeks!" .....

.....Which turned out not to be nearly enough time, apparently.

In any case, there WILL be an update here, when there's something really worth mentioning.  At this point, I feel like if I'm going to release it at all, I might as well try to do something *really* impressive, so it's taking a good bit of extra work...

        ~ Nicholai


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Cedric6014 on August 15, 2007, 01:26:24 am
As much as I like to open my presents early I reckon you should only release somethig resembling the finished product.
:)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: chenjesummrnmhrm on August 15, 2007, 11:36:26 pm
Do the Slylandro Probes get you unlimited RU?  Because, if they're self-replicating, then they should be free.  And the ones you don't need can be scrapped for money.

Or do you just let them bring minerals back to the starbase?


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: chenjesummrnmhrm on August 23, 2007, 11:53:30 pm
 I'll be glad to beta test.  I don't mind taking a hit for the good of the state.




 (Plus I want a version with glitches that I might exploit)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: lakota.james on October 19, 2007, 02:21:58 am
I would very much like to play this... sounds very interesting!


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: chenjesummrnmhrm on October 30, 2007, 06:08:43 am
Are there any artists here?  Because I'd be willing to lend my artistry skills to the project if you want to create new artifacts, modules, aliens, planets, ships, etc..  I'm not fantastic, but I could make up something nice if given time.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Dancing Fungus on October 30, 2007, 02:59:18 pm
Hey, it could fun to play test this. There could be much joy and merriment, and even a few things to complain about. At last, the full package!
Also, I'd be more than happy to help out with the art, particularly with the aliens.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: lakota.james on November 05, 2007, 01:38:04 am
arne is great at drawing, but i don't know if he will help. here is his website: http://www.itchstudios.com/psg/index.htm (http://www.itchstudios.com/psg/index.htm)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Dakkus on December 18, 2007, 04:27:12 pm
Just some more technical ideas I thought of before I noticed the age of the thread. Many might be alredy done, but I thought I could just as well write te stuff here. Maybe they'll be of help:

Rainbow planet shape:
Make them sometimes a spiral, sometimes a star, always have a different geometrical shape for them!

ZoqFotPik telling the coordinate: Just make the computer add a star randomly on the line that goes through both the Glowy bits star and the Frungy star.

Coreward could mean anything, it is easy imagining it to work according to some freaky dimension. That's how I originally thought if it, anyway :)
And since the Ur-Quan prolly must be in the middle anyway, coreward is of course the direction from Sol towards the centre of UQ sphere ;)

Where Tanaka comes from can be defined so that the route goes through a rainbow world in someone's sphere. Just define the code so that one sphere must be around one of the rainbow worlds and then define Tanaka's origin to fit that logic. Constellation names can be included dynamically in the code.

These ideas of defining some stars atop the randomly generated starmap shouldn't cause problems, because 99% will remain random. If you make sure the defined stars are not atop other stars and that they will steal names from their neighbours (if there are any), choosing the first unused Alpha/Beta/Eta/blah prefix, you will not have any problems. (you may also define certain star systems "protected", in order not to mess with them. Whole predefined star systems (looking like a snake that has eaten an elephant, for example) can be rotated and randomly assigned in some part of the starmap.



Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Cedric6014 on January 22, 2008, 09:39:43 pm
...right...

Anyway, I know I said before that I didn't want to open my presents early, but some signal that a beta is on its way would be just lovely!



Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Nicholai on January 23, 2008, 08:00:13 am
Hey,

It's coming along...  It's just a slow-going process, and has gotten much more intricate than I had originally planned...

... Plus I have to get on IRC and bug Meep-Eep every time I do anything that involves code more complex than like, variable declaration.

Pretty soon, I'll be on here begging for the services of a skilled artist to help me with some things.

I'd like to have a demo made up shortly -- perhaps just of the first star system.  (which may or may not be Sol!  ...WhoOoOoooo... scary!!)


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Shiver on January 23, 2008, 08:22:00 am
Send a private message to Arne if you need a professional caliber artist. I myself can do amateur photoshop work, but I doubt that's what you want.


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Yaddy1 on July 10, 2008, 08:47:37 pm
so this project is either almost done... or abandoned if it's not abandoned i'd be glad to help


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Cedric6014 on July 21, 2008, 11:16:26 am
I suspect that its neither of the above. I reckon its just way huger project than Nicholai anticipated. And he's probably working on it every third evening or so...

Expect a beta in 6 months' time


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Valaggar Redux on July 21, 2008, 04:50:12 pm
Also, note that this is the old thread; the newer one is here (http://forum.uqm.stack.nl/index.php?topic=4022.0).


Title: Re: Editing the Star Control 2 Source
Post by: Cedric6014 on July 21, 2008, 11:33:13 pm
Hmm, now I think about it, 6 months seems a bit optimistic, maybe more like 12. Then again, for all we know he might finish the whole thing next week