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News: Celebrating 30 years of Star Control 2 - The Ur-Quan Masters

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1  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: The Masters Thoughts on: October 02, 2012, 04:40:41 am
I am not sure the engine could handle a dynamic effect though. As it stands, you can get occasional frame rate drops when the combat gets hectic. Could you really implement both the codes for a dynamic battle in the background that is fleet accurate, be able for the game to recognize what to create in that background and not have it cause frame rate issues due to the increased activity on the screen?
2  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: The Masters Thoughts on: October 02, 2012, 12:34:06 am
But I still don't understand. Sure, you could do it that way, but it would be way more easy and efficient to just have small versions of the ship sprites and do everything dynamically. The thought of making a ton of animated backgrounds for this purpose is so stupid, in fact, that would never cross my mind during development of a game.

Agreed which is why I was saying that at the time this game was made, the thought of creating those backgrounds to match your fleets would not have been possible.
3  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: The Masters Thoughts on: October 01, 2012, 09:04:57 pm
"OK, what the heck are you talking about here? The way I'm reading this, it sounds like you would suggest that every possible combination of enemies in Super Mario Bros needs its own sprite. This is not how animation in games generally works. If UQM were modded to allow many ships to fight at once, each ship would of course get its own sprite. No additional graphics would be needed."

I wasn't referring to the combat, I was referring to his idea of background combat off the main melee layer. Just so it looks like your fleet is fighting another fleet while you are battling the one on one AI fight. That background currently is just the stars while on the battle layer you have your ship, Ai ship, planet and asteroids. Unless I miss understood, it sounded like one of his ideas was to change that star background into a battle between your fleet and the AI fleet that actually does not effect anything, just makes it nice to look at and more realistic for RP purposes. What I was saying was to create that, you would either need to accept that what is created would not reflect that actual fighting ships, or you would have to create a combination of images for every possible combination of ships this game can throw at you and then animate all of it. I honestly think for a one shot as a screen saver it would be kind of cool, but just not feasible for this.

"No, Star Control 2 is a 4X Adventure game with limited digital logistic records. Partially becuase they thought you didnt need more than the present being an "adventure" game and in the time it was published with an excellent hand drawn map."
I still have the original box and maps the game came with for the 5.25 inch disk version of the game. It is not a 4X adventure game, it is an adventure game. Everything you are doing is a mapped story with a "leveling system" reflected by gathered resources and ship upgrades. It is a very alive feeling story from beginning to end and could easily have been a book, but it is not 4X. Star Control 3 was a 4X adventure game where the main story had to be followed from beginning to end but had 4X elements such as creating colony's, producing equipment, etc. Even then, it was not a true 4X game as it only has to elements of it (eXpand, eXplore) and is missing the other two. Star Control 2 only can qualify under eXplore and that is a mark of all adventure games.

"I affirm again after a heavy meal with a great amount of wine that updates to the logistic records of the adventure must be worked on as to bring it to stand with other strategy/roleplaying and 4X games for the new generation of players and for mobile devices which dont multitask with ease."

This is a over 20 year old game that is not meant to be a Strategy game. we all saw what happened when someone attempted to update the game with 4X elements...we got Star Control 3, a walking insult to the genre if their ever was one. I have even watched it when they tried to update a 4X game to modern ideals....we got Masters or Orion 3, a top contender for worst sequel to a game of all time.

The new generation of players in the 4X field have their games already. You got Civilization for the down to earth 4X TBS types and you have Sins of a Solar Empire for the 4X RTS types just to name a couple. This game does not require updating to this standard you seem to have as the game is just not part of the genre you seem to place it in. The fact that after nearly 20 years (You guys got cakes ready for the 20th anniversary next month?) it still has such loyal fans and a dedicated base trying to keep it alive, says just how good this game was back in the day and how well it still holds up today.
4  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: The Masters Thoughts on: September 28, 2012, 07:30:55 am
"But having the source code, there are a few primal things that must be done to this game to actually make it playable and, most of it with the UI. You either play with a piece of paper on your side and found writing numbers, rogue words, planet and system names or solving riddles which may or may not lead you to death. The game keeps track of nothing for you. This has to change, you cant expect people to be playing this on mobile devices; which is the future for this game. It has to have ingame records, ingame notepad, mission follower and alike. A track of planets visited and looted would be nice along with stars."

Not only did I write notes for this game 20 years ago when it was new, I wrote on my map, noted important planets and systems, correlated the rainbow worlds, portals between hyper and quasi, etc. This is an old school adventure game which required you to keep track of things with a pen and a pad, as many games did back then. Even if it was released today, i would not be in favor of the game keeping track of these things for me. Part of the fun and RP of a game like this one was forcing you to truly keep track of what you are doing and what you have learned, otherwise it is too much hand holding.

To your combat suggestion, I would agree that it would have been a nice touch to see the rest of the fleet in the background, but I wouldn't put it as a real need.

"Star Control 3, more "star control"? Base building, ground combat, invasions and a lot more AI for moving races within their personas on the map without you getting involved. Master of Magic style of strategy or of Orion."

I really can't agree with this at all. Star Control 3's system was a tedious waste of time in that department with virtually 0 value. I found that by the time any settled colony of any race was of value to me, I was near the end of the game and far too loaded already. Might and Magic and Master of Orion are very different games then Star control 2. You really can't compare them.

"Thats alright if you have the option to do so but, for one. A computer game should have you using the computer and nothing else and multitasking with this game active has strange results either way. You can hand draw the maps but, so can the computer as you explore them for you, thats its meaning for being a computer. Computational power is not a problem and it wasnt back then when this form showed up. Its a question of combining this method with the present code if possible."

....The map is already in the game, the problem is the map is so large you really need a paper map outside the game to look at. I also completely disagree with a computer game should need nothing else but the computer. The point of any adventure game past and present is to be treating as such. Adventuring means keeping track of what you have done and where you have been. I don't see how doing this on pc or by hand is relevant.  Now I do agree this can limit the playability on a mobile device, but having to type that information into the device will be equally annoying.

"graphics based on the original artwork but the most important is getting it to todays stand in terms of 4X games"

Your not using the term 4X properly here. Star Control 2 is NOT a 4X game, it never was and isn't meant to be. 4X was coined by Alan Emrich the creator of Master of Orion (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate). Those games are Strategy games, not adventure games.

As per the rest of what you are describing, you have to remember how old the code is. What you are describing would actually take a huge amount of re-writing to make happen if it can at all. The game engine simply wasn't designed to handle multi-layer coding like that. It would work if the engine had been built for a modern RTS combat system (Which is what I honestly think you meant when you meant 4X standards) or at the least a TBS system which would be more friendly to a Stats based combat but when you look at this game, the Stats just aren't that relevant. (Show of hands, how many of you can kill any ship in this game on Max difficulty using a thradash ship?)

I do like the idea of seeing the rest of you fleet and the enemy fleet fighting in the background. I think that would be a killer image to look at (Be a great screensaver idea) but consider what you have to code just to do this.

First you would need to create sprite images for EVERY possible battle combination the game could create. There are 21 Ships in the game including your vessel and your fleet can have 14 ships plus yours which can be any number of ships between your 1 or the full 15. This is well over 100,000 possible scenarios and possibly a lot more (I am not going to run the 35 permutation and 35 computational stats sets to figure out the final number but doing just 5 of them broke 100,00). Then you need to animate all of that, figure at least 8 images for each animation. Point being is in the end you have millions of images made. Then you have to build a code, compatible with the current engine, that can both identify the ships in your fleet, the ships in the enemy fleet, then call up the specific images to make that background, be able to recognize and change that background based on ships that have been destroyed or left combat and finally then be able to do all of this without causing the actual battle your are controlling to lag. See how much hell you just went through for this one idea?

What you describe might be doable in a modern game that uses cg generation to create the images as the game is played but in a game like this that uses hand drawn sprites, it just isn't possible as much as I'd love to see it.

If this game were made today, some of what you say I could get behind particularly for the mobile devices. As it stands, for 20 years ago, the game was ahead of it's time, for today, it holds up exceptionally well and the only thing i would have said is growing badly dated (the graphics) have been getting a gorgeous overhaul by our awesome, if not slightly insane friends around here.
5  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: September 28, 2012, 06:42:32 am
They must be linking off to a subset command or a hidden folder elsewhere among the code. If none of the game dialog is in the command lines you are reading. Look through the string commands for anything that indicates a link to something not listed in the command lines.

The Char** you are seeing, are these (Char** argv ) commands?

Come to think of it, are there any words in the documents at all?  Or is all the flavor text actually part of the images that make the dialog screens instead?
6  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: September 24, 2012, 04:42:26 am
My coding background is C++ so I don't think i can help much. Do they use a solid set of lines in the codes or are they linking off to sub folders when it looks for the text to display?
7  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: September 17, 2012, 04:42:14 am
If a programmer can help me decipher the data format of the STRING_TABLE data structure as it's used in conversations, and track down how it's disposed of, that would help.

Whats the programing language? I am surprised it is not a simple "If yes/ If no" string structure.
8  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: September 07, 2012, 02:08:13 am
So because it has been awhile, it's time to poke our loving devs with a stick to hear how things are going.

*Gets giant tree and rams it into Cedric's door*

So the important questions of the moment are,

So how are things going?
Any trouble spots we can help with?
Will there be a Black Spathi Squadron with me in command of it?
9  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 Demo 0.2.1 released! on: June 09, 2012, 05:35:31 am
Now back by popular demand......The Judge, harassing the devs!

Actually I have one question on topic, and one slightly off but I am going to ask it anyway.

The obvious question- How is work on the game going so far?

Less obvious question- I play a game called Freelancer quite a bit and while playing on one of the discovery servers i have encountered players by the name of Lurg, Chmmr and Ur-Quan. Wouldn't happen to be any of the Devs around here by chance?
10  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: May 12, 2012, 04:57:49 pm
Yes, I think there's a very good chance they wouldn't. For starters, they may not even know he's missing, or they may have evidence that he's dead. Furthermore, as much of a hero as he is, he's still only one person. If they're facing a war with the Lurg, they probably won't have the resources to search for him.

We have done rescue missions for people, loosing more in the process. To locate those that have gone missing in combat today even if they are nothing more then a single citizen of the nation. Guarantee, his going missing would launch a massive response and if they did believe he may be dead, I would not want to be the guy on the other end of the alliance guns.

Cedric you and the devs have been very quiet for the last few weeks. Is there any news on the progress towards the full game right now?
11  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: May 04, 2012, 05:48:39 am
I disagree because I could never believe in story wise.

Think about it, the single greatest hero, the literal savior of EVERY race in this sector of the galaxy goes missing while on a mission of search and rescue. They know approximately where he was because they know the general area of the search. I would give in about 30 seconds after he disappears before every race in the alliance sends their entire fleet to go searching for him.  If they found he was captured by the Lurg,I would expect them not only to get him back almost immediately, but to crush the Lurg into the dust so far that their race is exterminated for the insult.

Okay I am dramatizing a bit. However, the man saved Billions of lives, brought the Shofitix back from extinction, freed the alliance from slavery and single handedly brought down both the Ur-Quan and Kor-ah fleets before they could extinguish all life in the galaxy. Do you really think there is any chance the alliance would not marshal ever last ship to get him back? Also the Lurg really do not strike me as the "War" Types. They strike me as subverters, using others to do the work for them. I see them as attacking the alliance from the inside, not a direct war like the Ur-Quan did.
12  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: May 03, 2012, 06:14:37 am
psychic races such as the Pkunk and Syreen come to mind

I just feel a need to nit pick on this issue. Pkunk are Psychic, Syreen are not and neither are the Yehat based on what is being said.

The Pkunk are Psychic. Capable off seeing glimpses of the future, dreams that allow them to see past and future events though possibly out of original context, and so forth. There statements about knowing what you are going to say before you say it is a result of them seeing the conversation before it happens.

The Syreen are Telepathic. They can read minds and even manipulate them with enough effort.

The Yehat are Psychokinetic if we trust the original manual explanation.  They ability to manipulate objects (In there case, magnetic fields)  with their mind. While I agree it is likely part of their being an offshoot of the Pkunk, the powers these three have are quite different from each other.
13  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: April 27, 2012, 05:47:24 am
First, how did the Umgah get a Marauder in the first place? Umgah aren't exactly the strongest race in the quadrant, after all, and even if they were, the Ur-Quan are known for their precautions to prevent their technology from falling into the hands of other races. And, if anything, Kohr-Ah are likely to be even more paranoid than Kzer-Za in that respect.

Second, it was a plot point in SC2 that reverse-engineering a ship wouldn't work - you need native captains too. (Although this could be handwaved by saying it takes longer - you can do it, but not on the timescale available in the first game).

Third, neither the Precursors, the Milieu-era Ur-Quan, or the Melnorme were able to get the Slylandro starfaring. Arguably the Umgah probably are specialists at making specialised life-support systems (look at their own), but space travel for a prank seems like it gets past the tragedy of the Slylandro too easily.

Right now there are a few other holes though that make me feel inclined to wait on an answer to this. First is to what is driving the Kor-Ah now? Without that knowledge, it could be possible this is happening as per their plans to keep the other races off guard

To the second point...I never agreed with the statement in the previous game. Any tech can be reverse engineered at least on a general whole as long as you have the equipment to build it. The general problem I would see is the physical differences between how the races are built would require the controls to be modified as to be usable for another race.

To the third point, i agree.I would trust the Umgah of all races would have the ability to reconfigure the vessels to be able to take the Slyandro off their world. As per it be just for a joke...we are talking about a race that starts wars between species that result in wide spread genocide for laughs. I imagine they would find the situation Hilarious.........why did we let that race live again?
14  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: If you were to make a star control 2 remake what improvements would you make? on: April 24, 2012, 03:54:15 pm
-I would add the Black Spathi Squadron as a force of ships around the "secret" rainbow world with me voicing the commander of the squadron  Grin

Beyond that, I think the original game is just shy of perfect
15  The Ur-Quan Masters Re-Release / General UQM Discussion / Re: Project 6014 – Ur-Quan Masters mod on: April 10, 2012, 07:23:49 am
I'd have to agree with this, from seeing the dialogue video of the Lurg on YouTube. The Lurg essentially claim that the Ur-Quan knew better than to tangle with them, but the whole point of the Doctrines was that the Ur-Quan saw every other race as a potential threat to be neutralised - they're not going to back down because they meet something that actually is a threat, at most they'll stage a tactical withdrawal, build up until they're more powerful (or fetch the Sa-Matra, like they did with the Alliance) and then return to eliminate the threat.

A more likely explanation (and one that fits with having other alien races in the area) is that the Ur-Quan just didn't get to Lurg space. The Kzer-Za came down from the top of the SC2 map, the Kohr-Ah from the right, while the Project map is to the left and down - the Lurg and other species in the area may have been shielded by the Alliance of Free Stars until the resumption of the Ur-Quan doctrinal wars. The Lurg claim that the Ur-Quan knew better than to tangle with them could then be a literal case of talking big - the Ur-Quan simply never got around to them, but they claim that the Ur-Quan "wisely did to ignore us" in an attempt to intimidate the Captain.

I am not sure I agree with the thoughts on the lurg here. The Impression I have gotten from them is

1) That they are playing the role of the "Puppet Master" and work by manipulation rather then straight combat
2) They have their own precursor device of some sort which may lend to the idea that they could have been threat enough that the Ur-Quan chose to ignore them while they focused on other races.
3) They are full of hot air in their speeches, but they are in fact stronger and more dangerous then the Ur-Quan ever were.

A couple of guesses based on what I have seen-

They either were the creators of or are at least aware of the Mycon's true origins and purpose.
They are indirectly controlling the Kor-Ah
They know a great deal about the Alliance member races and are banking on using that info to cause the alliance to break down.

To use syntax and language codes, they would need to be standardized, which is just not plausible. Otherwise it's still full language to decipher.

No matter what you do, it will always be a full language to decipher. On earth, we use the fact that we can trace the root languages (Which in most of the western world is either Latin or Germanic)  and as such, know the basic  language codes that govern them even if they do not know a word of the language.

It's possible to build primers that should be decipherable by anyone, given enough time. we have done before. Remember this fun thread?

The only way to build a primer is to have already translated the language into something.

As far as fake languages go, think about this for an example.

Klingon in Star Trek has all the items necessary to be considered a legitimate language including it's own Syntax and language codes. They made it seem more alien because the creator of it intentional invented difficult grammar rules to govern it.
Al-Bed in Final Fantasy X however is NOT a language and is in fact, according to language rules, a dialect of English. (I am curious how they handled this in the Japanese version)
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