Broken site links
Posted by Banshee at Petrolution News on November 3, 2013
Hello everyone. If you've been trying to browse this site recently, you might be noticing that some of the site content looks broken. Our problem lies with a redirection rule of apache that is beyond my scope or it's something I'm not being able to figure out where it comes from. But the content itself is fully functional. Feel free to browse it:
And for anything else, make sure that the link has index.php?page= and the ? are replaced with & until we figure out why things are breaking. Sorry for any inconvenience and enjoy this place.
Battlestar Galactica at War is back!
Posted by Darthbyron56 at Petrolution News on December 28, 2012
Hey Guys, Byron here. Avid BSG fans will be well aware that between 2010/2011 NBC issued a take down notice of a single BSG mod from Moddb.Since Moddb didn't want to get into trouble they decided to remove all BSG related content from their website.
However, we have started up our Battlestar Mod project again, and hopefully we can continue to develop it without NBC feeling threated by its presence.
So what have we been up to?
Well most of the content used in BSG Colonial Wars needed upgrades. Textures weren't great and most models need re-rigging.
Our Priority at the moment is to re-rig enough units to get you guys a mini-mod by 2013. We are aiming for something small, but quite diverse. We aim to change the graphics of the game so you feel like as if your playing a Total Conversion mod.
As mentioned all models are being Re-rigged, and re coded to be more accurate to the ships shown in the show. We have already re-rigged the Battlestar Galactica, and have put its Flak Shield ability to test against some cylon raiders, and the results are fantastic. The video below from our November update shows you this ability being used.
Due to some set backs re-rigging was placed on hold and minor modding of Factions, Galactic Conquests and Planet placement has taken over at this moment. But I am pleased to announce that we have finally overcome the rigging issues we were experiencing with the rigging process, but I'd like to show you what I've been up to in the meantime.
This video shows the new and updated effects that we are looking to create with our mods Galactic Conquest. As you can see we've taken to offering an accurate representation of a Galaxy by adding in Nebula and Star effects, we've even gone as far as adding Suns to each Galaxy.
The area of space you see in this video is known as Helios Alpha, and is one of the primary Helios for the Tweleve Colonies. It features the following planets:
Let us know what you think, after many attempts at getting the effects to work correctly I cracked it. We are aiming to develop another 3 of these areas for the other Helios' within the Twelve Colonies. You'll also notice some sound updates for the GC.
The mod is well and truly back in production, however as always we must say that Real Life events to come before any modding, so If you haven't heard from us in a while don't assume we are dead, we might just be very busy.
If you want to keep up to date with is visit www.bsgmods.com/forum and register there with us. The forums is quite New and we still don't have many members.
Planets by numbers
Posted by Ghostrider at Phoenix Rising News on December 21, 2012
The key theme to V1.3 development is conforming to The Essential Atlas, which involves moving all the planets to their correct locations. In addition, a new theme has been added to this which has implications throughout the mod, some obvious, some hidden: Populations.
Planets vary enormously in their planetary populations, from the trillion on Coruscant to the airless uninhabited moon of Folor, and this now becomes the key economic driver for determining planetary income and industrial output. In general, heavily populated Core Worlds outclass anything else in terms of economic and military output (with a few notable exceptions), while some of the Outer Rim planets are so poor, one wonders if they are worth the military effort to take them. More on this later.
The second major change is fleet populations. Every unit now requires galactic population to build it. The more crew in a ship, the greater the Unit Population. Why? An Imperial-class Star Destroyer has 37,000 crew and requires consumables for 2.5 years. That's over 100 million meals stuck somewhere in the hold, and all this food, together with all the other consumables and parts required to cover every possible eventuality of running a Star Destroyer from spare rank cylinders to deflector shield parts has to be supplied from somewhere. Each planet you control will contribute to Galactic Population, and each land or space unit that is built consumes Galactic Population.
From a Campaign design perspective 2 points are immediately obvious. Firstly, while frigates and below have low crew requirements, the Clone Wars-era cruisers such as the Dreadnaught and the Acclamator Assault Ship are ridiculously crew-heavy designs, and it is not surprising that these designs were relegated to crew training and planetary defense roles out during the Imperial Era, especially with the advent of the Imperial-class Star Destroyer. While this certainly has a high Unit Population, a single Imperial is less demanding on Galactic Population than 2 Dreadnaught Heavy Cruisers, and with considerably more firepower. Yet another example of the technical breakthroughs achieved with the Imperial-class. It's not just a raw demonstration of firepower – it's also more efficient in crew requirements. Population is shown in yellow for negative numbers, such as unit population costs, and green for positive values, as per most planets.
So what defines Galactic Population?
Clearly food surplus is a key requirement to building a large fleet/army, but in addition a vibrant trade network is required to allow fleet supply to move goods around the galaxy to support front line military units wherever they are.
The current system of 10 population per planet is too uniform and simply was not going to work. But what do we replace it with? Answer – a full demographic model of each planet giving a picture of its food production, economy, trade network and industrial output that can then be used to determine a realistic figure for its weekly income and Galactic Population.
Actually this isn't quite as bad as it sounds as I had already started on a planetary demographic model during V1.2 development, but the model has grown and grown and is pretty complex. I'll attempt to break it down into manageable chunks.
The first step in creating a picture of a planet and its economic output is food production, the mainstay of most civilisations. Planets are not just lumps in space, terrain is critical to food production, so we listed a set of primary terrain types, all with different features: Grassland, Oceans, Forests, Temperate, Mountains, Volcanic, Desert, Swamp, Urban, Arctic, Barren, Ruined urban and Primordial and Asteroid. To this we add the civilisation factors: Technology Level, ranging from Neolithic/Primitive through to Super-High Tech. I also wanted a measure of Industrialisation and Pollution, which I call Harmony. Planets with high Harmony scores are pretty, grow lots of food and are good for tourism, while planets with negative scores are increasingly polluted.
Both Tech and Harmony have significant impact on food production and industrial output. Low Tech worlds take big penalties for both economy and food production, while the polluting worlds are penalised on food production but have bigger economies and greater industrial output.
Now we apply the Agricultural Level (which is a separate but related concept to the Advantage of the same name) , which acts as a multiplier to the terrain type. While the normal level of Agriculture is set at 1, some harsher worlds (where the planetary description indicates a subsistence level economy) this may drop to 0.5 or 0.25 depending on the local conditions. High levels of urbanisation will also reduce the Agri-level. Planets with good food reserves increase to Agri-level 2 or 3, while 4 or 5 is reserved for the Agriworlds, where the entire planet is turned into a giant farm. The scale of food production varies enormously, with Tatooine's moisture farmers producing 2.3 units of food, up to the giant of Ukio's world farms producing over 200 food units.
We also decided that planetary diameters will have an impact on food production, so large planets have their food output increased, while small colonised moons with lower surface area produce less food. As a bonus, we've taken the planetary diameters and re-scaled the planets visually in Galactic Mode so you can see size differences now, where known.
And finally, we deduct a measure of food that is eaten by the planetary inhabitants, so that big urban worlds are net food importers, with Coruscant's trillion beings eating over 100 food units worth of population.
The other side of the credit chip is galactic trade. This is based on several areas of industry. First, we take the trade generated by industrial output, which includes mineral resources, general industrial output (with positive modifiers for factory worlds), art & tourism, crime, and population-based civilian demand, so urban worlds score well here. Furthermore, this is intrinsically linked to the galactic trade network, and each planet gets a special "Commercial" ranking depending on its galactic position and access to major trade routes. The Comms rank ranges from 1 to 8, with position on the Big 5 Hyperrroutes (Hydian Way, Perlemian etc) rating an automatic 4. Remote Outer Rim worlds may only rate 1-2, while the super-hubs are scoring 6 or more. This makes a massive difference to the trade created by a planet, and has a major impact on both planetary economy and Galactic Population.
Most of this data remains hidden (actually in a massive spreadsheet used for mod development), but the result is a very personalised planetary economy. Having gone this far, we decided to complete the task by calculating all the important game considerations using this data.
Land and Space slots are now calculated using all the information gathered so far. To build a base you need solid terrain and a local technological culture to build and maintain the base. Key factors for Base size are terrain type and planetary population. Harsh worlds reduce the base size, high populations increase base size. The number of space slots is a combination of local shipbuilding – ranging from general technical skill of the population to specialist shipyards as noted in the planetary advantages, with additional slots for high trade requirements and large colony size. The number of Turret mounts for Planetary Turbolaser Defenses are now biased towards urbanised centres, and low population worlds tend to have fewer turbolasers than high tech worlds. The number and frequency of build pads is often also linked to urbanisation, so don't expect too many build pads to help your troops if you invade a barren planet! And finally, when you capture a planet, you get to steal/plunder all the goods awaiting shipment, so trade planets, mining worlds and planets with medical exports will have higher capture values.
Planets by numbers
If this is confusing, let's illustrate with a few examples; Firstly we collect all the data we know about a planet: Diameter, Population, Terrain types, Atmosphere type, Description. From this we can determine a range of 18 data points that describe the planetary demographics and from with we calculate the number of Land and Space Slots, the weekly income, Galactic Population, Capture Value, Destroy value and a rough guide to the number of possible towers for all those planets with unique maps.
Overall, with 300 planets in the database that's over 5000 data points to determine that describe all the planets in the mod, and 2500 critical data points used by the mod data files. This has then been tested (hence the call for Alpha testers) and re-balanced. While both the economic and population systems worked, the initial scale estimates were a bit high and a quick scalar applied to all values. Incomes now range considerable from negative income scores for barren moons to thousands of credits for the key industrial and trade centres.
Changes to the Campaigns
So what does this mean for the campaigns? Firstly, fleets end up a bit smaller, and Capital-class warships just got a bit rarer as all the campaigns are re-balanced for the population cap. This also has the added benefit of improving game performance due to the reduction in fleet size. Unless you have a large number of Core Worlds or agri-worlds under your control to boost your population limits, those early Clone Wars-era cruisers will end up being unpopular and will put pressure on your research planets to develop more modern and more efficient designs. Overall, the dynamics of play should become even more interesting with this extra challenge.
An Overview of Battle for Graxia and Lazarus
Posted by Digz at Petrolution News on December 11, 2012
Watch my video on YouTube below about Battle for Graxia and Lazarus one of the Immortals in the game. Battle for Graxia is a re-development of Rise of Immortals and is a MOBA game which is constantly growing in popularity that is available on STEAM now for the open beta.
"Commenor must be some major-league trading planet"
Posted by evilbobthebob at Phoenix Rising News on December 10, 2012
Sited in the Colonies, Commenor is a bustling, arid trade world. Its surface is covered with starports and landing strips for the tonnes of cargo that arrives and leaves, bound for the Core and the Rim. The planet swiftly became independent after the Battle of Endor, but its strategic location means that it's unlikely to stay that way for long.
From an initially defensible landing zone, attackers must choose if they want to push up a ramp onto the upper landing strip, or move out onto the open ground below the small clusters of mismatched city buildings.
Commenor's varied architecture is the result of its trading heritage; a melting pot of many different races and influences. Of course, both the Empire and New Republic would like to make their mark on the planet...
Whoever takes control of this world, it will certainly assure them dominance across the Trellen Trade Route and easy access to the Slice.
The Road To Coruscant
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on 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
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on 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.
The Revolution Is Here: Phoenix Rising v1.2!
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on March 25, 2012
The culmination of 39 months of work. Hope you enjoy it! We look forward to your feedback.
If you've previously installed other mods, make sure they haven't put any files in XML or Scripts folders in EaW\GameData\Data and FoC\Data. PR v1.2 is fully compatible with other mods; it just looks like certain mods are incompatible with us!
If you've previously installed the LucasArts 64-bit OS, 2+ GB RAM patch found here, you must apply this compatibility fix after running the PR v1.2 installer. The LA patch alters the original files for FoC v1.1, creating an instability in mods with custom AI. PR v1.2 allows 2+ GB RAM natively.
Version 1.2 In Numbers
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Empire at War 6 Anniversary!
Posted by Digz at Petrolution News on February 17, 2012
That's right everyone, it's the 6 year anniversary for Empire at War and Petroglyph are showing the way on how to celebrate it:
Happy 6th anniversary Star Wars: Empire at War!
Help Petroglyph get 500 subscribers on our YouTube page by the end of the week by sharing this video and the YouTube page, and we will give away 5 signed box copies of the original game to the pool of those who helped make it happen!
If you want a chance to win a signed box copy of the original EaW game go to the Petroglyph forums here and share the Youtube video above and help Petroglyph get to 500 subscribers for their Youtube channel. Also go to the thread and post your favourite EaW mods so others can see!
But I've learned so much!
Posted by Ghostrider at Phoenix Rising News on 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.
We Would Be Honored If You Would Join Us
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on December 28, 2011
For two years, Nertea has been my Shadow Hand, operating strictly behind the scenes in our effort to transform land combat. While it was great for the suspense of the announcement, admittedly, that was a terrible way to welcome someone to the team. I'd like to use this post, which highlights his remaining vehicles realized under v1.2, to give him a proper show of community appreciation. Without his contributions, the ground revamp would not have been possible.
Mobquet designed the Overracer Speeder Bike to do one thing: zoom. In terms of raw velocity, it's one of the best bikes on the market that isn't hampered by the control issues shared by swoops. Other than the optional light blaster cannon, there are few amenities of note, which is fine to the racers and scouts that primarily employ the Overracer. It's become a favorite of groups opposed to the New Order, which have been known to strip it even further to maximize stealth potential.
The newfound Empire conscripted Uulshos Manufacturing to build an armored command landspeeder to replace the LAAT in the role of ferrying officers in battle. The result was the QH-7 Chariot Light Assault Vehicle. Despite the bulk associated with tactical computers, encrypted comm units, and active countermeasures, the Chariot boasts impressive speed thanks to five thruster engines. On backwater worlds, the belly laser cannon allows it to double as a combat vehicle.
The Arrow-23 is a utility landspeeder that Aratech markets towards nature enthusiasts on semi-developed planets. It is larger and better armored than the typical family speeder to provide a certain level of comfort in the wild. It's also blazingly fast and highly modifiable, qualities that make it attractive to paramilitary organizations. The Alliance ended up with so many Arrow-23 Landspeeders that it became the default option for tramp shuttle, heavy scout, and battlefield ambulance.
When the Confederacy collapsed, the potential size of the Empire effectively doubled and, despite omnipresent propaganda, its forces were continuously spread thin as it pushed Rimward. Nen-Carvon offered a solution in the form of the PX-10 Compact Assault Vehicle, a self-driving light tank with a singular crew requirement. The tracked chassis is near impervious to pre-industrial technology, although its sensory inputs can be electronically jammed. Still, the PX-10 has been used against unruly Core denizens.
Ubrikkia Transports debuted the Talon I in the interwar period when galactic crime was on the rise. It is a modern example of an older concept: a militarized airspeeder built to engage starfighters in atmosphere. Although lacking the shields and powerplant of a spaceworthy craft, its sleek fuselage allows the Talon I Combat Cloud Car to excel at dogfighting. They are common to metropolitan defense forces and are occasionally fielded by the Empire in favor of noisier TIEs.
A Top 100 Thank You
Posted by Ghostrider at Phoenix Rising News on December 13, 2011
We made the ModDB Top 100!
Thank you to all the community support we have received in the last few days, and the news is that we made it into the ModDB's Top 100 Mods.
We are still polishing V1.2 and should update you soon, and just to remind you, a fresh round of voting has started, so please spare a minute or two to follow this link and support this mod.
New Maps Part Two
Posted by evilbobthebob at Phoenix Rising News on December 5, 2011
As promised, here is the second news post about the new maps coming to Phoenix Rising with the release of version 1.2. I hope you'll enjoy fighting on them as much as I enjoyed making them!
We begin with the grey ecumenopolis of Denon. Situated in a strategically important hyperlane intersection, this is an important world to control in many campaigns.
The landing zone at Denon offers a number of paths to the main base, and provides ample space for heavy equipment to be landed.
The long, wide streets are excellent for walkers and speeders alike. Infantry can shelter between some buildings to keep them out of the line of fire.
Altogether a nicer planet than Denon, Champala is an oceanic world, home to the Changrian species. Its rapidly changing tides meant that the native coastal cities are adapted to being partially submerged for extended periods.
One of the coastal cities of Champala nestles below an eroded cliff face.
Repulsorlift vehicles are recommended for attacks on Champala and all oceanic worlds, though walkers and wheeled tanks can ford some of the shallow sand banks.
The base on Champala is set on massive concrete foundations with heavy drainage pipes to keep the worst of the tides away from the main structures.
Far in the Outer Rim, New Alderaan is, as the name suggests, the homeworld of Alderaanians who escaped their planet's destruction. Much like Alderaan, it is a temperate world, though with strong seasonal variation.
A landing zone directly outside the main base, this should be held by defenders for as long as possible. It provides an excellent flaking route for attackers.
Deep in the mountains, this pass can be used to ambush attackers or flank round heavy defences.
AT-ATs emerge from the mist to assault the New Republic defensive line. The forest can provide cover for ambushing infantry.
A relatively unimportant world in the Outer Rim, Ord Biniir was covered in canyons and as a result, favoured by podracers.
The initial landing zone on Ord Biniir gives attackers a number of different canyons to choose from, some leading to the enemy base, some going to more hidden corners of the map.
The main base on Ord Biniir, built on one of the plateaus separating the winding canyons. Part of the rear base wall has collapsed, giving attackers an alternate route and providing defenders with a way to reinforce their ramp if necessary.
The main canyons surrounding the base. If turbolaser defences are present, heavy vehicles or anti-vehicle infantry are a must!
Well, that's all from me for a while. I have plenty more maps in the pipeline. Other big map changes in 1.2 include revamped structure positions in Galactic Conquest: now your ISDs can navigate those station defences! All space skirmish maps have been scaled up too, so starbases can no longer bombard each other as soon as the battle begins and ships can pathfind much more effectively.
Vote Us Mod Of The Year 2011
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on December 1, 2011
There's a really easy way for us to get all the talent we need to complete v2.0, and that's to be awarded Mod of the Year. Well, maybe it's not easy to win, but it does only take five seconds of your time to vote. Just follow the red button to Mod DB and click the green "Vote For This Mod" box on our profile.
Look, awards are nice and all, but the real goal here is to increase our exposure. If one person downloads PR because they saw a vote for us on the live scoreboard, then that's a success. So please vote for us if you can spare five seconds, and if you can spare ten, hit up The Dwarf Holds as well. Cheers.
Prepare For Ground Assault
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on November 30, 2011
In December 2009, I received an unexpected message from a fellow mod leader here at Revora that would alter the path of v1.2 development. Nertea, from The Dwarf Holds, offered his expertise on vehicle modeling. This set in motion a course of events that would come to define the release. What v0.1 was for space combat, v1.2 will be for land combat. In effect, this will be our Land Mini-Mod.
The last version was a false start for ground battles, more raw specs than mechanic. While there is still much work to be done before we can declare a PR v2.0, the essence of Land is here now. We have a robust framework in place that is just waiting to flourish into a complete game mode. Our goal? To bring epicness and accuracy planetside. And to do it even better than we did for space.
There are obvious drawbacks in our decision to delay ground development, but one of the benefits is veterancy: we're all better at this than we were five years ago. Given the opportunity to start again essentially from scratch, I'm certain we can craft a superior experience.
The difference between land and space, however, is more than a matter of gravity. There is a real dichotomy here for a number of reasons, at the root of which is the science fiction axiom of "why bother with land battles when you can fight in space". We know relatively little about ground combat during the Galactic Civil War - it just isn't written about. This leaves us with a fairly open canvas.
While depictions of army battles in our era are few, we fortunately have some phenomenal roleplaying material from which to draw individual units - great concepts that have been perpetually trapped in stat blocks and two dimensions. Given the movie models we had on-hand already from EaW, our most dire need was clear: the Armored Freerunner. That was the unit Nertea first set out to recreate that winter, thus commencing our renewed take on land combat.
The Freerunner is the product that put its manufacturer, Kelliak Arms and Armor Company, out of business. This nefarious distinction had little to do with battlefield performance - the medium repulsortank features great speed and fire coverage. Rather, it was the result of walker bias beginning to take hold on the Imperial Army following the Clone Wars. The Armored Freerunner never entered general deployment with the Empire and KAAC went bankrupt, forcing the units to be sold off to anyone who would pay. Ironically, the versatile Freerunner quickly showed up in the hands of dissidents, where it would become the foundation of the Alliance cavalry.
As the model neared completion in February 2010, I began jotting numbers down on my whiteboard, starting with damage values and recharge rates for blaster archetypes. The roleplaying literals used in v1.1 failed for us because that genre is handicapped for player characters; the new format would be customized and exclusive to PR. Small arms got weaker, while cannons became more powerful. Recharge times, which used to mimic relative cyclic rates, would return to the familiar two-second cooldown of space combat, with two notable exceptions: carbines and repeating blasters fire 50% faster; turbolasers fire 50% slower.
The next step was to come up with armor and shield classes. Normally, this is where EaW applies its rock-paper-scissors logic, but that's not us - our armor works by subtracting from damage received, while shields offer protection in terms of percentage. The mistake I made last time was allowing units to become invincible if armor exceeded damage, so a half-point minimum is now in place for any regular hit. The exception to this is special damage, which is tied to armor type: Organic, Droid, or Vehicle. An Organic attack, such as a poison, ignores armor reduction when used against Organic armor; however, it does no damage to other armor types and generally should not target them, in practice. Non-lethal effects, such as stun, are also largely based around armor type.
Ranges then rapidly fell into place. From v1.1, it was clear that literal distances and speeds would not work in a game that rarely represented more than 200 meters of a planet using its own scale. Authentic values could still be used for small arms, but they would need to be condensed. The range of cannons, which can even exceed the size of our biggest land maps when done exactly, would best be planned around the camera and how much can fit on-screen at a time. Once I decided that blaster accuracy should be inclined towards infantry and laser accuracy should be inclined towards vehicles - similar to the laser/turbolaser dynamic of space - the basis of combat was established.
Before anything could be put in data though, it would be prudent to go back to the source materials and reevaluate mechanized armaments under our new framework. Problematically, different titles use "blaster" and "laser" interchangeably, or seemingly at random. On top of that are RPG damage values, which tell another story of how the gun works, separate from the caliber descriptor. These inconsistencies were largely mediated by role and context, so while our armaments may not match every official claim, we stand behind their legitimacy.
At this point, I began updating the damage-to-armor matrices, projectile code, and hardpoints - enough to get vehicles running. By March, the new ground mechanic was ready for its first real test. I built Freerunners and headed for Brentaal. The ensuing battle was one of the most rewarding moments I've had as a developer. Land was playable again. And, for the first time ever, we had an exclusive unit that we alone took from paper to game, fighting on a map made for this mod.
With vindication came distress: the number of land models available to us was still terribly limited, perhaps unbalancingly so, and there was no quick way to remedy that. The best option, we decided, was to delay the release and commence work on upgrades, essentially adding the functionality for what we dub a "mini-mod". That meant that Ghostrider would more or less have to scrap the ground portion of the campaigns that were already finished. Nertea moved on to the next model and I went back to the whiteboard.
Just as space upgrades were originally metered by the prolific X-wing series, the AT-AT would serve as our gauge for land. Everything we needed to accomplish with a unit - both historically and for depth of gameplay - could be done in four variants. Breakthroughs for armies seemingly progress at a slower rate than they do for navies, so this represents only half the improvement of a fully upgraded space unit, but also costs half as much.
Once again, I've tried to ensure a niche role for each faction unit; however, in a departure from space, abilities are no longer mostly class-based. Instead, we have some innovative powers that might only be available to a single unit: self-healing armors, repulsorlift jammers, point-blank EMPs. Pure combat abilities in the style of Power to Weapons are less common and have been reserved for true battlefield juggernauts.
Dealing with upgrades gave me a chance to clean up unit tooltips as well. Obviously anything would be an improvement over the non-descriptions in current use, although the space unit block text isn't ideal either. I had naively thought that EaW would parse newlines for popup strings when I first started writing them for space; of course, it doesn't, and the format just stuck. The only way to get text on different lines is to use multiple strings, so I trialled a modular format this time to take advantage of that. The stat blocks are much more clean and readable now and buildable land units have even begun to show prose descriptions, for those that prefer words to numbers. Progress!
Hitpoints took a while to calibrate. We've normally used strict conversions from official figures to determine the amount of punishment a unit can take before it's considered destroyed. Those numbers were in place from the previous release and were immediately quadrupled for all vehicles. That gave them the longevity that was missing, but certain units still felt off during testing. On paper even, some of the canon stats just didn't make sense - speeder bikes were rated tougher than skyhoppers. It became necessary for us to find our own way. So, while I haven't abandoned our sources if they can fit, I will supersede anything that does not with a value that works in the engine. And the game plays better for it.
The vehicle focus up to this point is intentional, as infantry had suffered from longstanding coding complications dating back to retail EaW, when most land units and all infantry had perfect aim by virtue of non-working XML accuracy tags. This is the default implementation and was never acceptable to us. The alternative is to use hardpoints, which were not meant to go with containers, the "circles" that form infantry into squads, since they create a disconnect in targeting, among other issues. The jury-rigged fix for the previous release was to use the simplest container possible, but that meant that individual troops were doing their own pathfinding, were uncohesive, and were getting stuck all over the map. When I sorted out team targeting and locomotion in April and infantry started firing on their own, all the intricacy and nuance of our small arms design from v1.1 became apparent for the first time.
Is Han the same character without his DL-44? We think not: blasters are too varied in terms of damage, range, and capacity to simply call two pistols equal. Although lacking art and tooltips, our soldiers have always used specific weapon models where it counts, in data. And not just a single weapon like vanilla - thanks to hardpoints, combatants can brandish as many arms as they can realistically carry. In fact, we've simulated almost every weapon in existence for this era, down to the esoteric, from power hammers to wrist rockets to shatter guns, with special care taken to preserve connotation and rarity in how they are used.
These were essential in correcting my previous oversight of indigenous units and structures. Due to release expediency, many files were simply left in their original state. These have since either been converted or met the delete key, with the most noticeable changes for players being to indigenous. Houses are still in place on the maps, but nothing spawns from them, there is no associated bounty, and they're not destructable. Essentially, they're just ordinary props now, with mobs being placed exclusively through starting forces. 19 alien species were added under the civilian archetype, which will be the standard way of representing non-Humans to prevent excessive variantation. Civilians are also unique in that they come in double-strength platoons of 80 to showcase their numerical advantage.
Unfortunately, no one was ever missing in a firefight. I'd always thought of in-game accuracy as an angle and thus was sitting around doing trigonometry trying to figure out better values to use, until Ghost mentioned in May that it's actually a measurement of spread between a group of shots at maximum range. The last point is key, since that's what ultimately determines the fire cone. All land hardpoints were redone to account for the mistake. Infantry were divided into accuracy groups - civilian, military, elite, and hero - with each group using a consistent angle, irrespective to range to simulate shooting with the naked eye. In other words, at 100 meters, a pistol and a rifle are equally inaccurate, even though rifle fire likely has triple the effective range. The opposite approach was taken with vehicles: we've assumed that targeting computer quality is proportional to weapon range, so all mounted cannons are just as inaccurate at 50% of their respective maximums.
With ground combat in excellent shape for testing, my focus shifted to aiding Ghostrider with Operation Shadow Hand, which hadn't been overhauled since v1.0. By June, Nertea had completed his second vehicle, the Heavy Tracker.
The Mekuun Heavy Tracker is a repulsorlift support vehicle designed to house an omniprobe sensor array. This technological breakthrough in the wake of the Clone Wars allows for ground-level detection unimpeded by terrain, a blind spot for existing omnidirectional sensors. Long-range scanning is used to great effect with the topside artillery laser. Trackers typically double as command units for the Rebellion, where they are able to set up rogue reinforcement points with the aid of a landing zone beacon repeater. Although very well armored, the abundance of electronics makes them fat, somewhat fragile targets.
Much of the remaining year was consumed by countless attempts to implement a custom AI, although I continued to expand our projectile roster and convert vanilla units that had been missed. In total, five previously unused troopers, three droids, and eight vehicles were adapted from Petroglyph assets, while the T-16 Skyhopper, Luxury Sail Barge, B1 Battle Droid, B2 Super Battle Droid, Low Altitude Assault Transport, and Mygeeto land map were assimilated from community releases.
One of the last major changes was to reinvent the bombing run for PR. When bombardment was added in FoC, little was done to differentiate it from the carpet-bombing runs of EaW: both were indiscriminate area attacks. Additionally, there was only nominal difference between bomber types. Given our emphasis on statistical transparency, this grew intolerable in the new mechanic, so I devised a way to reliably bridge space and land. All ground bombers were afforded the same characteristics as their orbital counterparts, including weapon systems. There is now a huge difference between supporting an invasion with TIE Targeters and Scimitar Assault Bombers, although in case both are present, the game will automatically pick the better unit. Pilots strafe with energy weapons and actively target enemies with warheads - no more dumping the bomb bay. This is accomplished with conventional land projectiles; the only special case is for reloads: bombers can't launch more warheads on a run than they can carry.
The rest of the time was spent collaborating, documenting, experimenting, implementing, testing, fixing, balancing, and optimizing - the daily grind that often isn't newsworthy. Special thanks must go out to the testing team for a year and a half of silent toil. I put off announcing the land revamp this long to avoid a repeat of the last release, where when it came time to wrap up, land was barely a concept. This time, we ended up with something tremendously polished, yet still very much incomplete. Whether or not we can see this through to the end partially depends on fan and community support, so after you download the upcoming release, tell us what you think about it on the forums, and if you like it, tell a friend! That friend might just be the next member of our team.
Posted by Ghostrider at Phoenix Rising News on 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!
You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy...
Posted by evilbobthebob at Phoenix Rising News on August 31, 2011
I have the honour of writing the first news post for Phoenix Rising for a few months. I want to take this opportunity to introduce myself. I'm evilbobthebob, the new mapping lead for the mod. If you frequent the forums, you may have seen some of my posts. I had a hiatus from modding Empire at War for roughly a year before taking up this position. So why did I end that hiatus? Well, Phoenix Rising is a mod that aims for accurate depiction of an era we all love: the Galactic Civil War, and the events that followed. That made it stand out to me. First I was just submitting suggestions here and there, then bug testing. Well, one thing led to another, and here I am as the mapping lead.
I have already produced a number of maps for the mod since I joined. I've also tweaked nearly every vanilla map, smoothing out bugs and improving the placement of space structures. In v1.2, Imperial-Class Star Destroyers will be able to navigate maps with ease, and defence is no longer a case of clumping your fleet around your space colony. In fact, this change is possibly one of the more profound adjustments coming to v1.2. Playing in space battles now feels like it has the scale this mod deserves.
However, land has not been neglected. In fact, that is the real focus of this news: one of the most well-known planets in the galaxy has a new map.
Tatooine. The desert world. Dunes, mesas, tusken raiders, banthas, jedi. The beginning of the Skywalker line, and the birthplace of many excellent pilots. In this image is Anchorhead. A small town scraping by, the cantina is an excellent place to find freelance pilots that are trying to hide from prying eyes in Mos Eisley or another of the larger spaceports. Don't forget to pick up some power converters at Tosche Station.
The local Rebel base, located on the edge of the Great Mesa. This spot provides some respite from the sandstorms that rage across the dune sea.
Some tusken raiders have made camp in the entrance to this canyon. Perhaps they will cause trouble later.
A moisture farm, where a family scrapes a living growing crops with what water they can gather from the vaporators.
The Great Salt Flats. A wasteland of little interest, though the collapse of the mesa wall makes this an attractive prospect for invaders, especially if they capture this makeshift landing area.
So that's Tatooine. I'm sure you'll enjoy both invading and defending this backwater world in its strategic location near Geonosis.
Part two of this map announcement will be released soon, with news of planets a little closer to the galactic core. Also coming soon: one of the most significant news posts in the history of the mod
I Think, Therefore I Am
Posted by Phoenix Rising at Phoenix Rising News on February 16, 2011
It never worked.
No one could tell in the beginning, when we were still like vanilla. We got our first hint of the truth with research. Then the attacks began to quiet, and colonies disappeared. If we continued to change, there would soon be no game.
We changed anyway.
The task ahead was unprecedented: create a fully customized artificial intelligence. Despite a community's best efforts, it had never before been achieved. All attempts to alter the equations, the AI's means of perceiving the state of the game, had failed.
It turns out that FoC actually runs two distinct AIs: its own and EaW's. There is no way to alter the original EaW AI through modding FoC. It can, however, be circumvented.
And we have finally done so. After an arduous process of black box testing with no debug tools and too many distinct exception fixes to remember, Phoenix Rising can think.
My main objective with the AI in this release, besides deciphering a confusing system architecture so that it might work, was to return all the functionality it had out-of-the-box. It would need to be taught to reason in terms of our rules instead of those of the original game. Every line of every script and equation would need to be reviewed and, if necessary, converted.
In previous versions of PR, the base AI became dysfunctional as gameplay gradually changed. Some features went unaffected, while others shut down entirely. This iteration should return everything to its disposal.
A few aspects of the original AI would explicitly not make the transfer. Gone are the cheat scripts that spawned everything from cash to structures to dreadnaughts. The future will be won or lost on our own merits.
Before I began, a unique category type was created for each unit class in the game. It's now possible to easily distinguish between freighters and corvettes in the code, which, despite their very different roles, wasn't previously practical. More than just an AI improvement, this has benefits for anything that deals with units.
The conversion yielded an operational AI adapted to our scope and terminology, but with essentially the same logical processes as vanilla. For the space and land portion of the AI, this was acceptable - reformulating equations from scratch and adding new behaviors are projects for a later date.
Galactic AI was another matter. In EaW, a surprising portion of it simply did not work - rarely would you see an enemy Infiltrator Facility, Officer Academy, Cantina, Hutt Palace, or Mining Facility. Given its reaction to our splitting the Star Base, there was little left to salvage. Infrastructure, as it were, would have to be built from the ground up.
Once again, a subproject was called for and all structures were reevaluated. Why teach the AI how to build when the blueprints might be outdated? Basic stats like cost, time, and integrity were tweaked, but that's just the start.
We had a clean slate for land, so nothing would be held sacred. Starships are naturally organized into classes based on their size, but what about ground vehicles? EaW split them into indiscrete groups of "light", "heavy", and "advanced". I prefer to think of vehicles in terms of their method of locomotion. In that trend, there will be three types of factory: the Crawler Factory, for traction-based units; the Walker Factory, for legged vehicles; and the Speeder Factory, for anything that hovers. All building prerequisites were removed.
What's the difference between SecForce and SpecForce? We felt it was more than just a letter - the need for dichotomous barracks has been apparent for some time. With generic heroes steadily approaching pointlessness in favor of named, the Officer Academy no longer made sense. Its models were cannibalized to create a new concept for Stormtrooper and Special Forces types, the Elite Barracks. The suddenly redundant Infiltrator Facility was discarded.
"Hutt Palace" felt too factional, so it was replaced with a functionally identical Guild House. The HVs-2 Hypervelocity Gun and m-68 Planetary Magnepulse Cannon are no longer buildable by the Empire; in their place is the w-165 Planetary Turbolaser. The term "Star Base" has been retired in favor of "Orbital Shipyard". Finally, space research and upgrades are now conducted from a Research Station, which opens up use of places like The Maw and its Research 3 advantage.
With structures settled, work on the AI could begin in earnest. For every strategic and tactical goal available to the AI, there is an underlying equation that resolves to a number representative of desire to perform said action. Goals are organized into likewise sets; the goal with the highest desire in a set is executed by a plan - provided that the cost of the plan fits into the AI's budget. This process is repeated after a time interval given by the goal for every applicable object or area in the game. In the case of infrastructure, it's always considering friendly planets.
The first step in a new equation is to establish a constant desire to be modified by factors in the game. For production facilities, we use a large number that scales down as the faction reaches an "ideal" galactic ratio of structures to planets. For something like a Mining Facility or Golan SpaceGun, we're more concerned about not exceeding a local ratio. Others require unique considerations.
In all cases, it's prudent to include some basic checks to eliminate choices that break the rules. For example, the AI should not try to build stations if there is no colony, or a Walker Factory if it is Rebel, or two Research Facilities. Decisions should also be weighted by the relative value of a target planet, whether it is connected to an enemy player or not, and possibly by what other structures are present.
The aforementioned logic could work for any FoC mod, but this is our AI. Remember the planetary advantage update I posted about last year? It understands them intrinsically. Clone worlds get Elite Barracks. Research Stations are built at places with Archives. And Mining Facilities become increasingly difficult to pass up the greater the bonus.
It all adds up to an opponent that can do everything a human player can do - including win. Sure, it may throw units at you like it always has in battle, but its bases will be laid out with master precision. And that is the foundation.