|Campaign #1 - CORE WORLDS
||Ghostrider - December 9, 2015
At the centre of the galaxy, you find the oldest, richest, most heavily populated... and the best defended planets in the galaxy. Single planets in the Core have more financial and military influence than whole sectors in the Outer Rim.
CORE WORLDS is the first of the campaigns in the Rise of the Empire Era, which is set at the end of the Clone Wars. The formation of the Galactic Empire has been announced, but many worlds are either actively opposed to the New Order or are highly independent planets that will resist the Imperialisation of trade, commerce and law. You get to rewrite history with either the early Galactic Empire, or the scattered elements of the Phoenix Rising Movement.
All of these campaigns start with a handful of planets and outdated Republic-era and Clone Wars technologies. Many of the neutral worlds will be far stronger at the start than your small fleets, and these campaigns are lengthy. It is vital to plan for long term growth, and in many cases your production capacity will far exceed your initial income, and it is important to grow both militarily and financially.
The political influence of leaders also cannot be underestimated, and many politicians give time reduction bonuses on construction (motivation), and best of all, price discounts for the most influential.
You should also be aware that the larger starbases need considerable fleet strength, with destroyer and capital-class warship support for the level 4 and 5 starbases, before an invasion can be considered. It is no longer feasible to effectively destroy a starbase with corvettes alone, but your Level 2 starbases are vital to continued financial growth, so donít ignore them.
It is worth noting that the income created by light transports is a percentage of the planetary income, so make sure your light transports are in orbit over your wealthiest planets. You receive light transport revenues once units have made 1 trip into hyperspace. XQ5 platforms add 25% to your base planetary income, and are well worth the 3 week production time on your richer worlds. However, there is a limit of 2 per planet, and many of your Core holdings already contain at least one customs station, with a welcome boost to revenues.
Before considering invasion, make sure you scout target worlds by espionage, stealth heroes, and attacks by a lone scout unit to ensure any invasion is feasible, and that you can escape if it gets too difficult. Many worlds have interdictors in their fleets, trapping invaders to certain doom. And donít forget about small infantry raids with up to 3 infantry units. This can be a quick way to capture lightly defended units, with the advantage that you destroy the orbiting starbase if you manage to capture the planet.
In Core Worlds, you start with 6 influential planets : -
PRM Abregado Rae
The smuggler port of Abregado Rae is fiercely independent and highly resistant to being ruled, and is looking to Corellia for guidance in the growing opposition to the Galactic Empire. If the smugglers on Abregado-rae can join forces with the Corellians, they could form a powerful syndicate.
Strategic Considerations: Threat from Byss.
Heroes: Obi-Wan Kenobi
Alderaan has been a staunch supporter of the republic in the fight against the Separatists, with the Royal Alderaanian Shipyards providing the engines for the Acclamator-class Assault ships. Both influential and with excellent facilities, Alderaan is politically opposed to the New Order and Bail Organa is one of the key figures in promoting the idea of active resistance to the ever-growing power of the Office of Chancellor.
Strategic Considerations: No Immediate threats.
Heroes: Bail Organa
Chandrila is a world of free speech led by Senator Mon Mothma, who led the Delegation of 2000 to limit the powers of the Chancellor. Chandrila has a strong defence-fleet and is working with both Bail Organa and Garm Bel Iblis to take increasing military action to oppose the New Order.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Corulag.
Heroes: Mon Mothma
The free world of Corellia is the leading manufacturer of light freighters and corvettes with unrivalled construction facilities. Invoking an ancient law, legendary Senator Garm Bel Iblis has kept Corellia out of the Clone Wars and is strongly opposed to the changes imposed by the New Order.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Byss.
Heroes: Garm Bel Iblis
This smuggler world has a vibrant underworld and finds the Galactic Empire and its new taxes a considerable threat Ė especially as this is increasingly backed up by the Imperial Fleet and a growing Imperial Customs Service.
Strategic Considerations: Major threat from Coruscant.
This tiny island population is the home to Incom Ė producers of one of the most popular basic fighters towards the last days of the Old Republic Ė the Z95 Headhunter. Incomís fortunes have dramatically changed for the worse with the creation of the Galactic Empire and the move towards disposable TIEs Ė and disposable pilots, something that the Fresians object to morally.
Strategic Considerations: Isolated, but Coruscant could be a threat in the future.
Coruscant has everything Ė vast research capabilities, diverse production, immense wealth and a huge pool of talented individuals to nurture and develop.
In addition, both Sith lords Ė Darth Sidious and Darth Vader - are present on Coruscant, giving the Imperial faction a huge advantage. The political and financial influence of Darth Sidious is worth several star-systems, and Darth Vader frightens whole armies, both in space and in ground combat.
Strategic Considerations: Minor Threat from Farrfin.
Heroes: Darth Sidious, Darth Vader
While the temptation is to focus on military research, some effort should be spend to upgrade the trade fleet and add to Coruscantís fleet in case the threat from Farrfin increases. Military expansion, both north to Dolomar and south to the Deep Core should be considered.
Byss is the center of secret holdings in the Deep Core. With a massive 20bn population of immigrants tricked into travelling to a utopian world, Byss could become a major planet of influence.
Strategic Considerations: Major Threat from Abregado-rae and Corellia
Much effort should be made to consolidate holdings in the deep core and expand as if the smuggler fleet on Abregadoe Rae is able to merge with the Corellians, then the Deep Core is in danger.
This model Imperial world is isolated from Coruscant by the republic influences at the Naval Academy on Anaxes, and threatened by political activists on Chandrila. It must rapidly expand its fleet and defeat pro-republican sentiments.
Strategic Considerations: Major Threat from Chandrila
Heroes: Gilad Pellaeon
The Kuat Drive yards have unrivalled military production capacity Ė as long as you have the credits to spend.
Kuat has strong neighbours, but no immediate threats, and while it may be tempting to immediately start construction of a destroyer fleet, current limited incomes may prove this be an unnecessary strain on finances. It may be wiser in the short term to divert funds to more vulnerable holdings until their security has been established.
Strategic Considerations: No immediate threats. Powerful neighbours.
Heroes: Onara Kuat
Gandeal is a mineral-rich resource world with small freighter yards that supplies the shipyards of Fondor with raw materials. This should be considered as facility for financial rather than military growth.
Strategic Considerations: Weak Military. Powerful neighbours.
Heroes: Barrow Oicunn
Prakith is the secret headquarters of the Inquisitorius in the Deep Core. With no immediate threats, this facility should be expanded to a support facility, building fleet and trade units.
Strategic Considerations: Light Military. Powerful neighbours. Medium term strategy Corsucant should make efforts to connect to Prakith.
Heroes: Antinnis Tremayne
Overall, this is a campaign for long term strategy. You certainly have far higher incomes than any other campaign in this era, but early opportunities for expansion are limited Ė and most be considered carefully. However, you have access to unsurpassed shipyards and with a solid financial base, your regions of influence should expand steadily.
|State of The Mod
||Ghostrider - October 26, 2015
First of all, I would like to apologiese to all of the fans for the total neglect and lack of news in the last year.
You may be mistaken in thinking nothing is happening with the mod. - You would be wrong; progress has actually been quite positive recently, but real life cuts back on modding time for most of the team.
Before detailing some of the more exciting developments in the mod, it's probably worth a recap of what has happened to date, as this has profound implications on my particular area of focus - the campaigns.
The entire basis os space comabt has been rebuilt to match the land mechanic, with a detailed and comprehensive armor and shielding system. Shileds now absorb laser fire, ranging frmo 20% to 45%, depending on unit class. Armor grades range from 8 points in fighters to 32 points for capital class warships, and all the weapons in the mod now have different damage ratings. HP are considerably increased.
The biggest change in tactical battles, is that laser cannons, and especially light laser cannons, are unable to penetrate heavy armor. This does not mean that your fighters are redundant, far from it. A cloud of snubfighters and transports can strip off the shields of destroyers and capital-grade warships, making them much more vulnerable to turbolaser fire, but you can't kill a star destroyer with snubfighters alone - you have to have turbolaser support. Bombers get proton rockets and proton bombs, and can be pretty nasty.
We have also added space population. The idea is that in order to crew and maintain a space-based unit, you need a support base. Your planets provide population and without spare population you can't build anything. This explains why the Acclamator and other crew-heavy designs, such as the Dreadnaught rapidly became obsolote. The Imperial class is much more effiecient in terms of deliverably combat power vs population support required.
On a strategic level this adds a new dimension to the campaign scenario. You need credits AND population to build warships. As a result, we have rebuilt the entire economy from scratch, with new pricing and a detailed planetary model that calculates planetary economies based on population, tech level, agricultural base, mineral resources, underworld and manufacturing capability. Agricultural wolrds are particularly important to feed and grow your fleets.
Proximity Jumps and Trade Routes
We have removed proximity jumps from the mod, so all space-based travel is based on the trade route. This makes strategic planning much more interesting, and you will find that key planets that lie at the junction of major trade routes are extremely important strategically, as these act as choke points to access different regions of the galaxy.
For example. Brentaal IV, which lies at the junction of the Hydian Way and the Perlemian Trade Route, is now probably the most imporatant piece of real-estate in the galaxy and is defended accordingly!
All coloneis, from levels 1 to 5 are now armed with turbolaser cannons, and are heavily shielded and quite difficult to kill.
You will need cruiser support to take on a level 1 or level 2 colony, and multiple cruisers for a Level 3 Colony.
Level 4 colonies are extremely challenging, and need a large fleet, with at least destroyers, if not capital-class warships to have a chance of destroying the base.
Level 5 colonies are exceptionally challenging.
And if you think these are bad news, the asteroid bases are worse, so it is vital to send out expendable scouting parties to see what you are facing before you attempt an invasion.
Heroes no longer come with elite warships. They now have command abilities but are just that - indivudal beings that need to be attached to a fleet to make a difference. So Darth Vader IV on his own is just a pilot in an TIE, but with a fleet he commands on the bridge of the largest warship.
Back to Basics
If we now wind the clock back to early 2014, we are in the process of updating all of the old campaigns with these points in mind. We have always had a goal of adding new campaigns to each release, but had no idea of the change that was about to take place.
Our concept at the time was to create a new campaign to show the difference in strategic planning due to the lack of proximity jumps and have a campaign based on the 5 Super-Hyperrroutes of Perlemian Trade Route, Hydian Way, Rimma Trade Route, Correlian Run, and the Corellian Trade Spine.
60% of the campaign was completed when the campaign crashed on install and it soon became apparent that nothing was going to fix it. The problem was simple - too many planets and too big a campaign. The EAW engine simply couldn't handle it.
So we made the critical decision to break up all the existing campaigns into smaller chunks, each with fewer planets.
So - Core Worlds lost the Expansion region and shrunk back to the Core Worlds and the Colonies. This was highly successful and led to a better campaign with faster frame rates and quicker load times and much less lag.
The roll-out pulled appart the entire campaign set and rebuilt everything from scratch.
Prelminary testing of all 12 campaigns is now complete and the results are rather exciting.
I'll let you have more news, in detail, about each campaign in due course....
|Anatomy of a Starship
||evilbobthebob - June 22, 2014
Probably the best way to introduce the new space combat mechanics is to take a detailed look at our new (WIP) infobox layout. You may recognise many of the elements from the revamped land combat; many of the elements are also new. I'll go through each in the order they appear using the classic example of the Imperial II-class Star Destroyer. Please note that all values shown are WIP.
Tactical Population Cost
This is a new number based on the total volume of the hull (or hulls in the case of a starfighter squadron). It is balanced around the idea that an Executor-class Super Star Destroyer consists of 400 population points, the maximum available space population. For carriers, it also includes the volume of all the starfighter squadrons as in the case of the Imperial II. This means that you can field 5 Imperial II-class and their entire complements at one time. These values are currently in the process of testing and tweaking, and the exact values may be different in the released version.
All the starship icons have been brought into lineusing uniform lighting and rendering settings to create a better quality icon set.
As usual, we retain the full names of all ships, including their upgrade version.
From Starfighter through to Dreadnaught, a starship's class helps shape its maneuverability and sensor range statistics. It also determines which shipyard type is needed to construct it.
With the new version, we have many greatly improved autofire scripts for ship special abilities, so we feel comfortable including more than the two accessible from the GUI. In most cases, the tractor beam will be the hidden, autofired ability, and it will usually target whatever the ship has been told to attack. Note here the Imperial II has a Tractor Beam, Emergency Thrusters (power to engines ability) and Blast. Blast is a new ability we have added to many main-line combat ships. It moves the firepower of the main battery (in this case, the octuple turbolasers and turboions) up a notch, so that has increased range and firepower.
We have always included manufacturer bonuses on various appropriate planets such as Kuat. Now you can see exactly which ships will benefit, with the inclusion of the Manufacturer in the infobox.
This is the base hull cost, not including complement (which is included in the final cost at a 50% discount). Costs have been modified across the board to provide a more challenging economic planning experience.
This is the base hull construction time, measured in galactic time. For the Imperial II, this is 15 weeks. Note that building over a world with appropriate shipyard bonuses, or by building more of the same class of shipyard, this time can be dramatically reduced.
Width x length x height, in meters, the basic size of the hull.
The total volume of the hull in cubic meters, often using exponential notation. Here for example, the Imperial II is 121 million cubic meters in volume. This statistic informs hitpoint calculations and has a great effect on the likelihood for a ship to be hit by enemy fire.
With the change to the new space combat mechanics, we have moved towards a more "realistic" approach. While ships still have a capped top speed, it is directly proportional to their acceleration. This is measured in terms of G-force, the acceleration experienced by a being on the surface of a planet with standard gravity, roughly 10 m/s2.
This statistic is the turning speed of the starship, measured in degrees per second. It is primarily class-based.
The class of the hyperdrive in the starship (if any), which determines its ability to travel across the galaxy in hyperspace. The smaller the better!
Here is one of the new statistics. Shielding is now measured in Shield Points (SP) and has an absorption percentage shown after it. This is the amount of damage the shield can absorb from a single shot before it takes SP damage. So for example, a turbolaser shot hitting the Imperial II shield with a damage of 96 will do around 58 points of shield damage.
Hull has also changed a great deal. It is now measured in Hull Points (HP), like that of land combat. This value is primarily volume-based. Following the HP is the armour value and type. The Imperial II has 32 Vehicle armour. This means that it absorbs 32 damage from any incoming shot before the hull itself is damaged. For example, the same 96 damage turbolaser will do 64 points of hull damage on impact.
This statistic shows the maximum and minimum ranges of the weapon systems on the ship, followed by its line of sight range. All values are in meters. In this case, the longest range weapons are the octuple turbolasers, while the shortest are the individual turbolaser cannons.
We have greatly condensed the weapons display into a shorthand that provides much more information. We have done away with "light", "heavy" and so on, instead simply telling you the weapon type, their number, and their damage output. So, here the Imperial II has 6 octuple turbolasers with 240 damage per bolt, 2 octuple turboions with 240 damage per bolt, 2 triple turbolasers with 144 damage per bolt, and so on. Note that ion weapons do 200% damage to shields, but cannot damage anything except Droid armour. The number of tractor beams is also noted, which adjusts the cooldown of the tractor beam ability.
I hope this little snippet has provided some insight to the changes we've been making over the past 18 months. If you have any questions, I will endeavour to answer below, however note that I did not implement these changes myself.
|The Road To Coruscant
||Phoenix Rising - December 10, 2012
|Two-and-a-half years after the Empire was sundered and beaten at Endor, the war against its successors has stagnated. The New Republic has failed to gain more than a foothold in the Core and member worlds are beginning to doubt its legitimacy as a galactic government. The risk of this fragile coalition unraveling is too great, thus Supreme Commander Ackbar has drafted a campaign to thrust into the fortified Core and seize the galactic capital. This is the Road to Coruscant.|
Director Isard acquired the throne a little more than a year ago; however, it took the sacrifice of Brentaal to the New Republic in a complicated coup to put her there. From Brentaal, there are two paths to Coruscant: through Anaxes, or through Borleias. With Admiral Ragab locked in a standoff with Commandant Wermis on the Brentaal-Anaxes front, any movement on Borleias would require reinforcements. The answer came in the form of resurrecting the all-hero Rogue Squadron.
A secret training base was established on Folor, with General Salm in command. There, six new starfighter squadrons will be forged, including Commander Antilles' Rogue Squadron. The reformed Rogues are made up of seasoned pilots with a variety of leadership skills that, in most cases, also happen to hail from key worlds. They are equal parts elite unit and poster subject.
The plan is to temper the Rogues with a series of active duty exercises against Imperial forces in the relatively quiet Rachuk sector before commencing the main offensive. Rear Admiral Devlia coordinates the sector's Force Escort from the capital of Vladet.
When the time comes, the Rogues will rendezvous with the New Republic Special Forces units staging on Noquivzor, along with whatever Fleet elements Ragab can spare. This group will move on Borleias under General Kre'fey. A word of warning: Borleias may look mundane, but the name has been linked to General Derricote, the eccentric bioweapons engineer.
In addition, Isard has a noted obsession with Rogue Squadron, who had previously helped foil several of her schemes. If the Rogues were ever annihilated to the last pilot, not only would it be a personal victory for her, but also an insurmountable propaganda nightmare for the New Republic.
A more conventional victory for the Empire would occur if loyalist forces were able to reconnect the Perlemian, pushing the New Republic from Brentaal, Ralltiir, and, finally, into the Colonies. Such a position would all but spell an end to the New Republic presence in the Core - and any hope of claiming the capital - for the foreseeable future.
Coruscant, of course, is the only prize for the New Republic. Controlling the Palace would secure the Provisional Council's authority, while the Rotunda would allow a senate to convene for the first time in years. The expected battle will be anything but easy: some of the best units in the Empire are garrisoned here. That's why Rogue Squadron will lead the way.
|Traveling Through Hyperspace Ain't Like Dusting Crops
||Phoenix Rising - November 29, 2012
|Research has always been an integral part of our development process. No demand has been more of a challenge in that regard than our need to place each planet at a definite galactic location for strategy mode.|
When I began the process in the alpha phase of v1.0, there were maybe four official maps available that held any degree of accuracy; all were clearly related by the reference angle. Beyond that were hundreds of raw sources netting thousands of remarks about regional or relative location. Had that been the end of it, my task would have been nearly impossible.
Fortunately, an adolescent Wookieepedia was available to help cut through much of the clutter. And then I found this fellow called Modi, who had translated the askew maps onto a Cartesian plane, allowing me to derive coordinates that could be fed to the engine. It was the Internet equivalent of striking gold - a starting point. Later, JustinGann expanded on Modi's work to include speculative placements, which afforded me a second opinion. The end result was an independent interpretation of the galaxy unique to Phoenix Rising.
It took the single most important update to the canon to void all that effort - for the better. Midway through v1.2, The Essential Atlas hit bookshelves. Every star system that had ever been mentioned was now bound to a region of space 1/576th the area of the galaxy. A great many were placed with certainty. The unprecedented accuracy of the atlas created a dilemma though, as several campaigns had already been finalized for the release. Rather than scrapping them and starting over, we chose to forge on knowing that v1.2's astrography would be flawed. I am pleased to report that the next version will be anything but.
TEA contains dozens of maps, each with its own scale and set of planets. My first step in replotting the galaxy was to composite them at a scale of 1 pixel = 10 lightyears to create a supermap. The digital Mid Rim sector map served as the foundation, since it had no loss of precision from scanning and little artifacting.
With that done, the actual measuring was trivial. The results were better than I ever could have expected: the first planetary coordinates for Abregado-rae came in identical to those already in use. They were not alone. Although I had corrected our most glaring differences - generally those with no frame of reference or cases where TEA chose to reject Rebellion placements while I did not - when prudent in v1.2, our interpretation really held up to intense scrutiny. Only Spuma, which Children of the Jedi had confused with Protazk, and Orinackra were completely off.
The present and final representation of the galaxy is 20% larger than v1.2 and approximately 92 times the area of vanilla. That should be enough space to prevent planetary overlap in all future cases. Several worlds always have to be manually relocated regardless of scale, but not so much as to be a distraction.
As profound as it is to finally have set astrography, a different facet of TEA had an even greater impact on strategic gameplay. The once-sporadic and eclectic collection of hyperlanes was replaced with a vibrant trade network.
In v1.2, we had two kinds of routes: "the Big Five" and "other". There are now four classifications, the most I could objectively derive from official maps. These can be thought of colloquially as "super", "major", "minor", and "trace" routes. Their benefits are scaled linearly, so while traces provide only meager income, they are much quicker than using a navicomputer to punch though an unstable course, as is the case with non-route connections. Obviously not every system can be linked via hyperlane, so we have tried to balance between using intersections and minimizing campaign planet counts.
These connections are now critical to military operations in the Galaxy Far, Far Away. In the next release, fleets will not be able to travel from a planet unless there is an explicit line - we have eliminated proximity jumps. No longer can an invasion bypass Anaxes on the way to Coruscant, players need not guess where to attack and defend, and the AI has fewer perceptions to crunch when executing plans. This is arguably the single best change that has ever happened to strategy mode.
When FoC was released, I never imagined we would be able to deduce coordinates for every star system. If our trials and errors played even a miniscule part in affecting that change, then it was all worth it.
|Version 1.2 In Numbers
||Phoenix Rising - March 24, 2012
|I had a noble goal when we started work on this version: to keep a record of everything we would change. Somewhere between the advantage revamp and the AI trials, that goal became impractical - nothing was being spared from improvement. So, in lieu of a conventional changelog, here's some analysis on just how different the game is from v1.1.|
Several major code projects were completed in the course of development. The complement formula was overhauled and transports were allowed to be carried (total spawn tags increased from 655 to 1218). Laser color variants were finished (+1641 blue laser hardpoints alone). Heroes were given leadership qualities, greatly expanded, their ships switched to canon variants, and generally don't resemble their former selves (+112 named hero variant net gain). A mechanic was devised for planetary advantages and galactic combat bonuses were standardized (advantage abilities expanded to 372 from 151). Custom AI was realized for the first time, with cunning infrastructure logic (56 novel equations). The land rules were redone from scratch, in essence, making this the Land Mini-Mod (43 new infantry types converted from vanilla assets, 3 droids, 8 vehicles, 15 buildables).
- 532/577 game object XMLs modified or created for this release.
- 3/7 enumeration XMLs changed.
- 82/82 custom AI XMLs implemented.
- 320/320 LUA scripts edited and compiled for v1.2.
Salvaged variants, along with most legacy units, projectiles, damage/armor types, corruption data, cinematic data, and story props were cut for the sake of optimization. It's hard to track every minor change done for performance, so here are some current benchmark comparisons courtesy of Ghostrider:
2.2 GHz dual-core laptop with 2 GB RAM running Windows 7
Logo - 55 s, Menu - 125 s
Core Worlds - 160 s, 2 FPS
Logo - 55 s (-0%), Menu - 110 s (-12%)
Core Worlds - 120 s (-25%), 8-9 FPS (+425%)
3.0 GHz dual-core desktop with 2 GB RAM and a GeForce 7200 running Windows XP
Logo - 30 s, Menu - 80 s
Core Worlds - 100 s, 7 FPS
Logo - 25 s (-17%), Menu - 75 s (-6%)
Core Worlds - 75 s (-25%), 26-30 FPS (+400%)
This will be the first release where we've completely moved away from my time as campaign designer - and so much for the better. Ghostrider brought his vision of the Thrawn Offensive and Operation Shadow Hand to life, redoing every single unit in the process. We added a brand new historical campaign in Operation Skyhook, and the heroes to match. I can't even venture a guess at how many passes were made to update the sandbox set, but assuredly everything has been optimized. Historical campaigns now get free upgrades to start; we fixed the tech slider for Rebels and the credit slider also finally works properly. We assembled a team of testers, led by Reedek, who spent an unfathomable number of hours poring over these campaigns for bugs. Finally, Ghost drafted a 115-page technical manual to explain the intricacies of the mod.
Aside from name strings, all planetary text, all hero text, and all land text was rewritten. The campaigns all have new intro text. Land stats were put on individual lines and all buildable land units were given descriptions. The master text file added 429 kB. 7 GUI dialogs were modified.
8 Conquest land maps were added and the terrain of every GC space map was spread out to better accommodate pathing. A couple map-related exceptions were caught. 2 Skirmish space maps also made it in. Not to worry; evilbobthebob was only promoted from the testing team at the tail end of our beta phase.
28 space unit models added: Acclamator I, Acclamator II, Action VI, B-wing, Cargo Containers B-D, Droid Tri-Fighter, Gozanti, I-7 Howlrunner, IRD, Research Station, Shadow Droid, Space Colony 1-5, TIE Bomber, TIE Drone, TIE Fighter, TIE Interceptor, TIE Targeter, T-wing, Victory I, Victory II, World Devastator, Xiytiar. 7 space unit model spin-offs or significant changes: Im418, Independence MC120, Liberty MC80, Reef Home MC80, Tector I, Tector II, TIE Interceptor RG. 9 space units with new animations: Barloz, BFF-1, BTL Y-wing, Delta-7, DX-9, ATR-6, RZ-1 A-wing, T-65 X-wing, Z-95 Headhunter.
- 326/868 new ALO model exports. +211 model net gain.
- 291/331 new ALA animation exports. +298 animation net gain.
- 958/1402 DDS textures edited. +598 texture net gain.
- 305 TGA icon changes or additions, most hero icons thanks to Invadious.
8 unique Nertea land unit models added: Armored Freerunner, Arrow-23, Heavy Tracker, Overracer, PAS, PX-10, QH-7 Chariot, Talon I. 6 third-party land unit models added: B1 BD, B2 SBD, Greedo, LAAT, Luxury, T-16. Custom single energy bolts sized for damage added. 10 land unit model spin-offs or significant changes: A6 Juggernaut, AT-AP, Digger, Garm Bel Iblis, Guild House, Navy Trooper, Spy Network, Storm IV, T-47, X-34. 21 map props added.
With that said, the release candidate for v1.2 is undergoing a final evaluation by testers at this moment. If nothing goes catastrophically wrong, the release date will be Sunday, March 25th at 00:00 GMT-5.
|But I've learned so much!
||Ghostrider - January 7, 2012
|With the stunning potential of the Freerunner model in full view, combined with the skeletal structure of the land mod in place, Phoenix Rising approached me the end of 2010 with a challenge: resurrect the Training Manual for the mod. |
I had initially tried to write a training manual during 2010, but the idea never had any real structure and the project was put back on the shelf to gather dust.
The need for a manual had been building unseen for months. When we started development of V1.2 all those months ago, the mod was still small enough to be able to play by instinct and a few basic tool tips. As mod development continued, we were able to keep track of the expansion in units through simple documentation. However, as time went on this became more involved, with some fairly complex spreadsheets to keep track of space forces, the expanding number of planets and their advantages.
Then we added heroes. Lots of heroes. The complement system changed and more independent space units were added. Somewhere in the future the sheer scale of the mod would be too great to simply play by instinct alone, and too complex to try and remember everything as a developer.
The decision to redo the land mechanic from scratch became the focus for some form of supporting literature. However, the new land combat system is so totally different in design and depth that it would be hard for even the most experienced players to learn how to fight well on land. Support literature was needed, for players and designers alike.
But what form should this documentation take?
The old concept of the Training Manual came back to life and this time it had real purpose – help explain the nuances of ground and space combat and help players to make the most of all the development work that has created Phoenix Rising. The Technical Manual was born.
As a graphic designer by trade with access to some high-end design software, I wanted the manual to be both informative and visually exciting. The design software can output to PDF, making it an ideal package to create an easy to read and near universal distribution format, and in shape I wanted the manual to fill the screen nicely and frame the new 3D renders created by Nertea. In addition, the copious library of screenshots could serve to illustrate units in action and key points of gameplay if required.
Once the basic structure of the manual was underway, a framing device was needed for the top and bottom of the page, and what better than an iconic screenshot of an Imperial-class Star Destroyer underbelly taken during initial testing of Operation Skyhook, deliberately taken to mimic the opening frames of “A New Hope”.
Tinted starscapes of Bespin space battles would initially serve as a background colour for the main text, but were since dropped in favour of another Skyhook screenshot featuring all the classic rebellion era units, including the DEATH STAR.
For the land pages, Phoenix Rising’s epic initial battle of Freerunners vs AT-AT’s on dusty Brentaal were unbeatable as background images and we simply had to include Nertea’s efforts in full detail.
But what of the text itself?
For me, nothing short of a full technical manual would do, as part of the fun of being involved in development is discovering what actually happens if you push the Power to Weapons button mid battle, or wondering exactly how much more firepower you get if you upgrade those Dual Laser cannons to Quads. There have also been a tremendous number of esoteric discussions about almost every aspect of the mod, for example wondering why Dark Empire-era AT-AT’s are so terrifyingly effective. With the manual we can add this information in and fill in all sorts of interesting details and share some of the development buzz.
It also gives us the opportunity to thank in detail the vast number of contributors to the mod, and highlight some of the hidden work that often goes unnoticed by testers and other members of the team.
Although it would be nice to have a full technical readout of every weapon, starship, upgrade, planet, hero and tank in the mod, clearly this would have to wait and to be built up chapter by chapter. For V1.2 an introductory General Overview and a Military Overview would suffice, hopefully giving players enough information to understand the basics of space and land combat, with the shorter space section covering useful updates while the Land section required a a complete breakdown of the new combat mechanic in its entirety, as trying to make the most of the new combat system would be a serious challenge without literature, and most players would miss out on critical tactical information this would make play harder and much less enjoyable.
Little did we know at the time that these two chapters would develop over the last year to over 100 pages, positively crammed with hints, tips, screenshots and enough technical data to keep an R2 unit happy for weeks. The manual also gives us an opportunity to thanks all the huge number of contributors to the mod over this lengthy development cycle, including the efforts of the various campaign testers and the output of our newest addition to the Phoenix Rising Team, evilbobthebob – our lead mapper.
The Space section of Chapter II includes data on all the space-based weapon systems, a detailed review of unit abilities and a look at the underpinning mechanics of space unit classes, covering armor types accuracy, damage control parties and other useful information. A full section describing all the different defensive and offensive abilities and a review of the compliment system rounds off the technical aspects of
A Recent Addition
In the last month a new major section has been added to the manual. A rather innocuous comment on the forums – on a completely unrelated topic naturally – made me realise that there was a gap in the manual. Many players are not aware of the full potential and fleet roles of the huge variety of units in the Rebel and Imperial fleets.
This has now been resolved with a full 20 page review of all player fleet units, together with indications of their upgrade potential in the General Overview section. This and should provide commanders with greater insights into how to improve their combat skills, especially when paired with the technical briefings contained in Chapter II.
Discussion with the testers has since added a couple of pages of tactical notes and some great gameplay tips, together to make the General Overview complete.
The Land Section of the Military Overview provides complete details of the Land combat mechanic, describing the key difference between 5 units classes of Droids, Infantry, Walker, Crawler and Speeder, describing in detail the strengths and weaknesses of each class, how units are produced and full technical readouts of upgrades. Tips and strategy are included, indicating all the facets of gameplay, from bombing runs to infantry garrisons in vehicles.
You get to see the full weapon load-outs of all independent enemy units, and some stunning images of all the new units that have been introduced or converted for the intensity of planetary invasion as seen from a mud-hugging trooper or armoured assault carrier.
And if this was not enough, we have full listings of all land weapon systems with damage tables for the multitude of pistols, rifles, carbines, grenade launchers, flamethrowers, mines, and heavy vehicle-based weaponry that are now in regular use!
These two chapters are just the beginning. As indicated earlier, the aim is to eventually put together a comprehensive technical manual for the mod, and the plan is to slowly release additional chapters as and when they are written!
The next chapter to be written will be Galactic Mode, used as a guide to help players make the most of all the information available to them, and this will also include details on hyperspace travel, trade routes, spying, information gathering and so on – but that won’t be started until after the release.
Following that will be chapters on Economy and Production at the very least – but this will all take months to complete, and as we progress into the development of V1.3, more time will be required to update existing chapters as well as writing new ones.
The V1.2 Manual will be included as a PDF with the release, and as always, we look forward to the ideas and comments this generates on the forums and I am sure V1.3 development will benefit as a result.
||Ghostrider - September 8, 2011
|Mod development is a double edged vibro-blade at times. Adding detail and expanding gameplay can have an effect on performance, and this has always been a challenge with campaign development, where you canít just cram zillions of unarmed freighters around a trade planet to make it look real without making the PC sweat a bit. |
The trick is to add enough units to make planetary defense fleets look and feel real, and to have enough variety that you each fleet is different, and yet balancing this with performance.
Several breakthroughs in the development process have made this a lot easier and add up to making a much better mod.
Firstly, PR looked at how the game engine works from a theoretical aspect. While we are unable to optimise the engine itself, we can optimise the data that the engine uses, and this has been done by eliminating unused XML data objects. So the Zann Consortium has been whittled down to a handful of pirate/independent units, corruption missions are gone and the interventions (the random missions that used to pop up) have been removed from the AI. Redundant GUI model code was also scrapped.
De-bugging also uncovers some unusual problems. During late V1.1 testing we discovered that someone had accidentally left a microscopic sized level 5 Starbase tucked under each planet in galactic mode, and removing this certainly made the graphics card a bit happier.
The other big change to V1.2 is the use of a config.meg file to wrap all the XMLís into a single package, which reduces hard-drive access time, and therefore improves loading times.
We also tried unplugging the AI completely (not just switching it off), but this made very little difference to performance, as some of the performance issues are inherent to EAW modding Ė so we work around as best we can.
For the campaigns themselves, there is a clear correlation between the number of units in play and degrading performance and simply capping the large campaigns to a maximum of 100 planets was a step in the right direction. However, the big breakthrough came in recent testing, when Evilbobthebob discovered that while large campaign files are certainly slower than small files, the really important factor is diversity. Itís better to have fleet of 50 identical frigates than a smaller fleet of 10 frigates, 10 bombers, 10 fighters and 5 freighters.
With this in mind we tested a new approach to fleet composition:
We can keep a huge stock list of available ships, but ensure individual fleets donít have two different ships performing the same role, and keep the upgrade level consistent with the fleet.
For example, a smuggler world would have several YT1300bís instead of a motley assortment of randomly upgraded freighters. This eliminates several unit variants in one go, but players are still attacked by a swarm of hard-hitting light freighters.
The next smuggler world might be poorer, but slightly more criminally minded and would have say HWK Medium Raiders for a slightly more piratical bias.
As a player you are met with a completely different foe, but the game engine is happy to only deal with one variant instead of six.
This approach has been applied across the entire mod, and while no two planets will have the same choices from what is now a large unit database, but the results work. In the last three months, all seven campaigns have been re-optimised (the Beta varsion) with this viewpoint and, if anything having fewer types of units in an individual fleet accentuates the differences between one planet and the next and makes the universe that much more interesting. And the performance benefits speak volumes as the CPU is better able to manage the galaxy.
The following test results were achieved on a 3.6GHz Quad Core - Alpha version early V1.2 testing, Beta version post optimisation
Loading Times (s)
Core Worlds (Alpha) 31
Core Worlds (Beta) 25
Inner Rim (Alpha) 36
Inner Rim (Beta) 21
Outer Rim (Alpha) 53
Outer Rim (Beta) 38
Operation Skyhook (Alpha) 51
Operation Skyhook (Beta) 40
Thrawn Offensive (Alpha) 50
Thrawn Offensive (Beta) 42
Galaxy Far Far Away (Alpha) 107
Galaxy Far Far Away (Beta) 60
Operation Shadow Hand (Alpha) 67
Operation Shadow Hand (Beta) 59
Max Frame Rate Per Second
Core Worlds (Alpha) 28
Core Worlds (Beta) 32
Inner Rim (Alpha) 24
Inner Rim (Beta) 36
Outer Rim (Alpha) 20
Outer Rim (Beta) 24
Operation Skyhook (Alpha) 18
Operation Skyhook (Beta) 23
Thrawn Offensive (Alpha) 17
Thrawn Offensive (Beta) 19
Galaxy Far Far Away (Alpha) 11
Galaxy Far Far Away (Beta) 18
Operation Shadow Hand (Alpha) 10
Operation Shadow Hand (Beta) 12
Average Frame Rate per Second (1 minute test)
Core Worlds (Alpha) 24
Core Worlds (Beta) 29
Inner Rim (Alpha) 18
Inner Rim (Beta) 28
Outer Rim (Alpha) 16
Outer Rim (Beta) 20
Operation Skyhook (Alpha) 15
Operation Skyhook (Beta) 21
Thrawn Offensive (Alpha) 14
Thrawn Offensive (Beta) 16
Galaxy Far Far Away (Alpha) 9
Galaxy Far Far Away (Beta) 15
Operation Shadow Hand (Alpha) 8.2
Operation Shadow Hand (Beta) 8.5
This translates to a 30% improvement on performance for all but the most complex campaigns, and as an added benefit, the new files proved to be smooth and responsive as one moved around the galaxy on all campaigns.
Overall, this means that medium performance systems should be able to play on Core Worlds, Inner Rim, Outer Rim and Operation Skyhook, while lower end PCís should be able to play Core Worlds and Inner Rim.
And yes - it means that some laptops might be able to play Core Worlds at least, and mine is now used extensively for testing!
||This level is not made, distributed, or supported by LucasArts, a division of Lucasfilm Entertainment Company Ltd. LucasArts, the LucasArts logo, STAR WARS and related properties are trademarks in the United States and/or in other countries of Lucasfilm Ltd. and/or its affiliates. All other content copyright Phoenix Rising Team 2006-2016.