Sunday, September 30, 2012

release canidate results

Its only been 2 days so far but the rc seems to be doing well. The few issues that have come up seem to be easily remedied and overall it sounds like people are happy with the changes.

By this time next week we should have a release up on moddb, and I couldnt be happier.  doug has a few more things to talk to me about but as soon as the next o3 release is done and up we should be jumping right in to converting aw and uc to this system as well as getting seed finally back in.

More to follow so stay tuned!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Xenoforce O3 Version 2.0 Release Canidate 1

Test it out and let us know what you think!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

The Scrin and their toys

As we come close to the release of the next version of Xenoforce : The Original 3 (also known as the next release candidate for the system we use for Xenoforce Reborn) I wanted to talk about the Scrin.

A lot of the current Scrin designs believe it or not come from Robotech, or more importantly from the designs and ideas of the Robotech Masters.  While you can't say the Scrin are the Masters you will see in the new version of the mod just how the themes of the Masters played a very unique roll in the new Scrin.

The first thing we've changed is we've made the "upgrade" system easier to understand.  Instead of it being very story driven and players having trouble really understanding what upgrade applies to what units we have changed it to be the Scrin Bio-Index page.  Here you can modify the stats of the types of Scrin Forces that the Scrin can deploy making them stronger/faster/tougher than they otherwise were.

The first column will now effect the Scrin Bio-Units (yes this is now a class of unit).  The second applies to Scrin Bio-Armors and Scrin Bioroids.  Finally the final applies to the Scrin Escort Fleet units.  Each upgrade grants 5% / 10% / 15% / 20% bonus to speed, fire rate, damage, and health giving you the ability to upgrade a single force type by 50% for free!

Now what exactly are these things?  A Bio-Unit is a unit that is built from the Portal.  A Bio-Armor is built from the Warp Sphere.  Finally an Escort Fleet unit is built from the Gravity Stabilizer.  This like I said is to make things easier.

But wait there is more.  Each unit type has a special feature that further makes this an easy to use but interesting design.  Bio-Units are units that have a specialty enemy type.  This means when the unit deals damage to a specific target type it deals an additional 50% damage against that type!  The types that the units can be specialized in are Infantry / Vehicles / Structures.  So if you focus on Bio-Units and then use Disintegrators which are anti-structure specialists you could be doing an extra 2X damage against enemy bases than you normally would!  Units considered to be BioArmors are : Disintegrators, Shock Troopers, Mastermind Squads, Gunwalkers, Corruptors, Seeker Platforms, and Devouerer Tanks.

Bio-Armors are the meat and potatoes of the Scrin Main force.  The Scrin use 3 different types of Bio-Armors extensively.  Silver Bio-Armors are basic units, meant to be mass produced and are heavily armored and designed to deal damage.  Emerald Bio-Armors are stronger units meant to hold back the tide of an enemy.  They are equipped with special weapons meant to slow the enemy down and are very heavily armored.  Finally Ruby Bio-Armors are elite commander units designed to not only use the most advanced Scrin weapons but also give a boost to other Scrin units around them making them stronger and faster in the field of battle.  A bio-armor has a second hidden surprise though.  Once you kill a Bio-Armor the Bioroid pilot is jettisoned from the husk and then continues on foot fighting.  A Bioroid is a very powerful and special kind of infantry, they are equipped with many of the weapons and features that their Bio-Armor had but are more fragile.  Still this "2nd attack form" makes BioArmors a pain to deal with.

The Escort Fleet is the 3rd kind of Scrin unit.  These are flying vessels that are strong enough to deal massive amounts of damage to their entended targets and can be used either as fire support or as an assault force in their own right.  Typically designed around the idea of being offensive units the Escort Fleet can be hard to handle if your not prepaired to deal with them.  Their purpose is to simply be the best at dealing with targets that also fall under their Teir / Class.

Finally the one type of unit we havn't talked about, the Scrin Capitol Ships, are going to be very very powerful on the battlefield.  It will be a rare sight if things go right to see more than a few of these on the field of battle as they simply are going to be ungodly expensive.  However with great cost comes great power.  Think again of the Robotech masters and their Mothership.  If you've never watched robotech go watch some episodes from the 2nd Season, the one that deals with the Southern Cross and the Robotech Masters.  The Scrin Motherships are going to be like that.  However if a Scrin Mothership is destroyed it will cause a psycic echo to go through all Scrin units on a field causing them to become immobile for 15 seconds.  That may not seem like much but thats 15 seconds of being a sitting duck and in the middle of a battle that can be an eternity.

So thats a rundown on how the Scrin are shaping up to be.  Feel free to ask any questions.  Again I hope to have a version out for testing by NEXT friday (Oct 1st at the latest).

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

A very real look at the Kodiak and where CNC 4 went wrong

As I do not have to tell most of you CNC4 was a major disappointment to the CNC community.  The units for the most part took on a more cartoony look, they removed base building almost completely from the game, and they took a game engine that had realistically NO unit limit cap and put an absurdly low unit cap in it's place, all in the name of "balancing".  It's no wonder that there was such a backlash to this design, the only thing it had in common to the other CNC games were the names and the guy playing Kane (Joseph D. Kucan does a great job as Kane btw).

With all the work that we've put into the MOD it's easy to see why the development team of CNC4 took the easy way out and did these things.  But that doesn't make it right.  It would be interesting to see someone redo CNC4 in the CNC3 engine (it wouldn't be hard, there are so many models already imported into CNC3) with the CNC3 game play style.  But thats a topic for a different day, one when I have nothing to talk about.

There were a few gems in CNC4 though.  The NOD Salamander was a pretty cool looking ship that defiantly held to the feel and look of NODs previous unit designs.  The GDI Kodiak went though a lot of different designs before ending up where it did, and at first look I really like the Kodiak.  It has all the hard edges that GDI is known for as well as following along the lines of "GDI is focused on the cheapest way to get heavy weapons onto the battlefield" much like the Mammoth Tank is.

But then I went to actually put it in the game and I started thinking "Wait, this thing really doesn't make much since."  Lets look at the history of CNC from CNC's perspective.  GDI has developed walkers in the past, so they have some very advanced tech along those lines.  They also have hover technology which is seen by it's MRLS's in the 2nd war and the Shatterer in the 4th war.  They have advanced sonic technology AND rail technology that is unrivaled by what NOD uses at any point in the history.  This ship is ment to be a space ship, devleoped and designed after the 3rd war to help protect against ships like the Scrin Mothership, Devastator Warship, and Planetary Assault Carrier.  So what weapons do they put on it?  9 Artillery Cannons and 3 double barreled anti-air vulcans?

If you watch the Youtube video of the making of the Kodiak ( ) you'll begin to understand why and what happened.  Personally out of their designs that they show I like the 3rd one, maybe one day when I'm board I'll model that one.  But with everything going for them, with all these story points and even with their reasoning as to why GDI needs the Kodiak back, they don't make a ship that could do what it's supposed to do.  They make a Planetary Assault ship.  It's that simple, the Kodiak is a Planetary Assault ship, designed to hang out in high orbit and bombard a ground target and then fly in and finish of any remaining targets directly.  Call me stupid but how the hell is that thing supposed to protect itself for other spacecraft?  It's main weapons are on the bottom of the ship making it hard to target anything above or around it.  Sure it's got the vulcans for anything attacking from those directions but honestly how much damage do you think those 3 vulcans are going to do to a Scrin Warship?  My money would be on the Scrin 100% on that fight.  And Kenetic weapons?  On such a high investment?  You have 3 heavy hardpoints on this thing, why make all 3 the same gun?  Make the front 2 Rail Cannons and the back one the artillery cannons for planetary bombardment if thats what you want.  This leaves you 6 Rail cannons that cover both the front and underneath the ship (more than enough power to put a serious hurt on anything in the CNC universe), 3 AA guns that can provide cover fire against lighter ships coming in from above, and 3 artillery cannons for planetary bombardments.  Then you could say it's a warship meant to punch through enemy lines.  Personally I'd also make room on the top "flight deck" section for hidden missile launchers that pop out and also fire much like you see in the design pics.  I may come up with a way to add these things in and if I can then the unit would be more like what it's supposed to be and less like the "game designers" wanted which from the video was a pretty unit.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Capitol and Command Ships, do they have a spot in the game?

First I want to say that this was not the original topic for the day but after watching an exhausting game last night between GDI and NOD (and exiting before the game ended because 3 hours of stalemate with the kills just rising and rising were more than enough for me) I think that this topic needs to be talked about.

Lets go down the line here of known capitol ships / cruisers that each side has in the game so far.  The Scrin have the most direct and interactive ships with their Iconic/Harvinger/Eye-of-the-Storm capitol ships being key to their force late game.  Earth Federation has the White Base / Grey Phantom / Albion / Argama / Ra Calium which is quite a list but you can't do anything with them really in the game, they are just really big drop ships at the end of the day.  AW has the Tenzan class ships that are used to provide quite a bit of firepower, even if they are land ships and not space craft like the rest.  And then there is GDI and NOD.  GDI has the Kodiak and NOD has the Salamander.

Now why am I bringing this up?  Its simple really.  We're about to start doing the rebalancing of Scrin and their Capitol Ships are going to play a major roll in this once we figure out just how we want things to play.  And after watching the game last night I have changed my stance on the Kodiak and the Salamander, I see a reason for these units in the game.  Yes, you heard me.  Something that I have stood heavily against for a long time I am now changing my position on.  Why is that?  Because they are needed.  GDI and NOD need a unit that they can look at as a game ender.  This unit needs to be something that is pulled out when "This has gone on for too long and it needs to end one way or another."  And to me the Kodiak and the Salamander are perfect fits.  It also doesn't hurt that I already have the models and the code for them...... hey just because sometimes I don't plan on using things in the game doesn't mean I haven't already actually at one point PUT them in the game!  Lol.

But there are 2 problems here.  First of all I do NOT want these units to be "mass produced units".  These are units that in most games a player shouldn't see.  These are "We're in the real shit now" units that if you do deploy them they will have an adverse effect on the game.  What this is I'm not sure, but the point is if it works your a hero and if it doesn't then you just made the biggest mistake you could have done.  Maybe the unit costs 50,000 to deploy, or requires a building to be built that requires over 1000 points of power to run.  I don't know yet, but the idea is simple.  It's going to take a lot to get these units and your really going to have to want one to get it.  The flip side is these things are so tough that they are for all intents and purposes game enders.

Now for the other problem.  Size.  The CNC3 engine is a very versatile engine this we know.  The down side to this though is  the game is NOT designed to zoom out very far so that really big units take up a ton of screen space.  If I gave players the ability to control the Ra Calium for example think about how that would effect the game.  That thing is HUGE.  It takes up the entire screen!  (It is a beautiful model though, thanks to the person who donated it!).  If you had the ability to control that thing you would just end up blocking the sight of everything and no one could do anything.  I mean if I can't see my units then thats not cool.   Even the Argama or White Base would be tipping the scale on "Too Big" in my book.  Sure I could make them smaller but then you have people complaining that "things arn't sized right" (news flash, every mobile suit in the game should be 2X bigger or every infantry unit should be 50% smaller).  Yea, we get those kinds of emails.  You know, at one point we even considered just removing infantry from the game all together..... but thats a story for a different day.

Back to size, the Scrin get away with it due to the shear amount of open space that is involved with their capitol ships.  They may be large but a lot of it is open air.  So if we added the Kodiak and Salamander in and we changed the way Earth Federation UC used their capitol ships (yes, I'm looking at the way gundams are deployed now) then what do we really have left?  How would we have the Earth Federation Ships work?  Would some of them be regulated to "attack runs"?  Or maybe have them deploy at the base once per game (that means you get one and only one and then your out of luck).  And how do you make it fair?  For SEED and the Archangel I'm thinking of having the ship fly in and use it's main weapons much like GP03 does when it enters the battlefield but then have the Archangel fly off.  Maybe the Earth Federations ships should work that way too?  Heck, maybe the Kodiak and the Salamander should work that way, they fly in, do a massive amount of damage in a "I'm the Juggernaut, you cant touch me" type of way, then fly off?

Sufficient to say I'm not sure what we are going to do here.  There are a lot of questions that need to be answered before we can move forward with this issue.  But whatever we decide to do know it's because we think it's needed and not "because it would be cool and I want it".  We have a strict "No crap" policy in our mod.  :)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

We now return you to your regularly schedualed program.

Just wanted to let everyone know that the PC is fixed and we're back in business.  I should have some new pics up within the next few days dealing with NOD's "Time Wall" that they put up.  I will tell you that while we're still not 100% sure on the way it looks it's functionality is damn cool and I personally love it.  It has just the right amount of "This needs to be dealt with so we can move forward" without having too much "This just isn't right, how are we supposed to deal with something like this?"

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

I feel like someone just pulled the football....

So we were making some excellent progress on the mod these last few weeks.  GDI is good to go.  NOD is almost there.  And now we're getting into changes with the Scrin.

And then it happened.  It was bound to happen sooner or later, but I really was hoping for later.  3D Studio Max gave me the middle license error finger.  Sigh.

If anyone out there has ever used the same copy of 3DMax 8 before on their system over a long length of time then you know what I'm talking about.  Somehow, someway, the license had become corrupt and 3D Studio would not run.  Uninstalling doesn't fix this.  Reinstalling doesn't fix this.  So after some more googling I found a solution, find the hidden license file and delete it.  This will cause 3d studio to reactivate itself.  And it was so, the angels were happy and the sky was blue!

Then 4 hours later I turned the computer back on and 3D Studio said "uh, you be fucked dude".  Yea, more problems.  So I ran some more tests and came up with a few HD errors.  Fixed them tried again.  3D studio started up but once the program got in it would freeze.  So I said "hmm, fine, I'll use 3D Studio 9 then.  I have that as well (just prefer 8 for mod work)".  Yea, same type of problem.

Since 2 different programs have the exact same problem I started thinking it wasn't actually a 3D Studio problem and was more likley a driver or windows issue.  Few hours later I had it narrowed down.  Windows is a bitch.  :p

So now I'm backing up everything and getting ready for a new install of windows.  This time there will be no Raid 0,  tried it and didn't like it.  Is this bad?  I don't think so.  I may even try dual booting, one HD running XP and the other running 7.  We'll see.  But for now we're in the ditch waiting for the toe truck.  I should be up and running by tomorrow.  But the long and the short of it is the release that I had planned on having ready for this weekend won't be here.  It's in the ditch.  Next to an old copy of XP.  :p