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Greetings from the Fringe


JGZinv
(@jgzinv)
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Joined: 12 years ago
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Hi folks...

ISort of round-aboutl-y found my way here through the Infinity site, noticed you had a few people

chatting about Tachyon in the past.

I'm the current head for the FringeSpace project. We're both the hub for the Tachyon community and

the mod that will move the Tachyon universe over to the Freespace 2 SCP engine.

If you've got some questions about Tach mods or patches, I produce the Service Bay pack

whenever something ends up changing. So I'm pretty well versed in that end of things.

Seems you've found our downloads section before...

Anyways, figured I'd say hello, add our hat to the pool of things here. See if anyone wants to chat Tach., 😎


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DarkOne
(@sscadmin)
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Welcome to JGZinv

If I remember correct FringeSpace will be a standalone game correct?


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JGZinv
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Correct. When it is complete it will be a standalone total conversion as the FS2 community calls it.

We'll have ripped out, replaced, or kept only the assets that are not tied to FS2, so it can be distributed freely.


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Geraldine
(@geraldine)
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Hi JGZinv, welcome to the SSC 🙂

Wow, I loved Tachyon and always wished someone would give it a modern makeover. Hope you will keep us updated on your progress as I already have a few FS mods sitting on my hard drive right now. Fringe Space would fit in well 😎


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JGZinv
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Yeah it's been really slow progress over the last 4 years... we've been way under staffed since we started honestly.

SCP puts out updates now faster than the mod community can keep up with too.

We still run regular Tachyon multiplayer every Sunday around 2 PM EST. Have a few people that show up.

The mod pack I put together has about 40 extra maps, so there's more variety than the original.

I try to get CDs in the hands of people I meet. Get people playing again.

Right now I'm working on trying to get the classic Tachyon HUD working in FS2.


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DarkOne
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JGZinv what can you actually bring forward in a full conversion? Has Nova Logic let you have any permission to use some of the original voice work by Bruce Campbell?


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JGZinv
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NL is aware of our mod, as part of the original dev team were tipped off to it and spread the news.

Basically we've been told in so many words that the pres of NL is a very money minded man, long as we don't hurt

NL's cash flow, then they'll probably leave us alone. The original developers were quite excited to hear about

our project and have given us their blessing. Unfortunately they can't touch it with a 10 ft pole since most

of them are now with other studios, although tach is still their baby.

As to assets from Tach. While I can mod about 90% of the game, we can't really move anything directly over.

The models and textures are trash, only a single fan converter was made, and it's horrifically buggy. The audio is divided

in unencrypted WAVs, MP3, archive files, and encrypted PCM files that need a unique key or program to open.

Stats wise, we have everything we need except for the weapons. Tachyon uses a crazy complicated almost DnD/RPG

system of dealing damage, and it's all locked away in the exe. So I base everything off of tests I do myself or the Mars Strategy Guide to the Fringe, which has data from the game's launch.

So basically, we have had to make just about everything from scratch. Convert it for use in FS2, and unfortunately constantly go back and update or fix what we thought we had done. <- that being the No.1 reason we're not sitting on a public alpha demo right now.

What can we bring to the table... well besides the graphics, I'd have to say my favorite thing is moddability or the ability to expand on it. Tachyon for example has a single map editor, which is all text based. FS2 has FRED. We couldn't even make a cap ship rotate in Tachyon, here we can script great complex battles. I personally plan on adding new gametypes to the system so space sims aren't so "behind" compared to other genres. Tachyon had a lot of hackers, and generally had some broken/imbalanced weapons. We can fix that here. Turrets can be feared, instead of a minor nuisance. The pirate factions can be expanded upon. Gate technology, the colonies, the barons, normal traders - all have huge amounts of room to be explored in greater detail. The clans that made up Tachyon's community also left behind a great amount of history and "fiction" if you will, that can be used.

As to Bruce Campbell, we've not tried to contact him yet. I doubt we will until such time as we've got a couple releases out there, and even then I think the old contracts will come into play. If so, we'll find a replacement with a similar voice.

Our audio guy has an uncanny similarity to the fenris arena announcer for example.

A lot of people immediately jump on the idea of what are we going to do about a campaign? The answer to that is that we've put a lot of thought into several possible plots. The longest standing one being a blending of both endings from the Bora/GS arcs in Tachyon, taking place 5-10 years later. We've also had a desire for some of the original Tachyon fan fiction writers to come in and have a crack at writing a plot. At least one of them went on to become a professional novelist. Each of us that has contributed to the mod I think has something they want to add. I started off with a sketch character as the son of Redship Rory, since then I've seen where I could develop part of a small campaign around him.

Right "now" though, we are only interested in basic multiplayer. Tachyon may be known for Bruce Campbell's campaign, but it's the multiplayer that still is used today. With the super small staff we have, trying to work on a campaign and assets at the same time would be impossible. Everything needed for multiplayer will be needed for a campaign, so we're not wasting time. The FS2 community is also heavily slanted toward single player, not multi, so we're filling in a bit of a gap there.


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Geraldine
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This sounds really great JGZinv. 🙂 I do hope you manage to get Bruce Campbell's blessing too as he really added colour to the game. One thing I recalled from the original game was, when you entered the cheat code, Bruce would chime in, "so your gonna cheat!". That was a nice touch 😉


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DarkOne
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I know in using the FSO engine with it being updated on occasion could cause a problem since you want to use the latest features that were added or just bug fixes. Wouldn't it be easier to draw a line in the sand and use that engine version until you hit alpha/beta and see how the community responds to it and the demand for fixes/additions. And then only upgrade the engine if needed to fix an issue?

Hate to see ya spinning your wheels and revisiting old code that did work but once you upgraded the engine that behavior got messed up or it stopped working all together.

JGZinv you mentioned that FringeSpace is mainly going to be a multiplayer game, is the teams plans to just do deathmatch, capture the flag, escort mission types or are you thinking of co-operative play style missions where you work towards a goal and there is some story to go along with it?

Browsing through some of the models that have been made for FringeSpace on your website are some great stuff and I think people will enjoy the facelift.


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JGZinv
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We also have a hosted board with Hard-Light here: http://www.hard-light.net/forums/index.php?board=195.0

The problem with updating isn't so much code. We could work for a while on the current code base, the main issue thus far has been mostly models. Geometry errors, conversion errors, utility errors, poor modeling practices, and a mountain of texture issues. Every time we get new people on board to replace ones that have left, they seem to know something the other didn't - so it all has to be fixed again. ShadowZ spent 5 hours with me last night bug hunting, and one of the things was a normal map issue that was left from one of HLP's better texture producers. A simple save as error.

Code wise, we don't have much choice at times, because a basic feature of Tachyon may have been added. The bug hunt as of late is related to trying to update so we can use the new custom HUD code. Without it we're stuck using FS2 style HUDs and measurements. Since the exe's are updated daily, we're usually talking about a ton of changes too, so "something" ends up breaking every time we update every say... 6 to 8 months.

The other problem is documentation. I raised a lot of complaints about the state of feature documentation and tutorials for the first couple years we were around. Simply even the handful of resources on getting a model in game, were 3-5 years out of date. Unless you knew from having done it, it was next to impossible to get anywhere. Nearly all the head modders that did know anything, loathed teaching new people too. Over the last couple years that has slowly changed... there's still a lot of gaps, but the attitude is better and we've consolidated the resources better. I wrote a 100 page tutorial on getting ships in game, simply cause I needed something for myself.

Missions wise, yes we're multi focused until we reach our goals. Really the modes matter very little because if you have the assets for one, you can do any of them. It's more how the mission designer decides things in FRED. We thought about doing the SP campaign as a big co-op thing, but it's not really mulled over much. There'd be a lot of extra work involved for balancing, but it'd be nice. FS2's multiplayer also currently has some issues with fast mods and object updates/collision detection. It's still using FS2/1999 values for updates. So we're inching our way into that bag of worms.

Base Wars is going to require some heavy duty coding to get put in. There's pieces of it already in FS2 that we can mod, but it all has to be tied together and expanded on. We're watching SCP too right now as they are about to overhaul the pilot code, and later on replace Squadwar at some point. Squadwar has several similarities to BW too, so we're ok with taking a wait and see approach while we've got plenty of work already to do.

For the time being, right now we've got a few test missions to mess with. We've got a campaign style "tachyon opening" esque thing, a couple deathmatch maps, and I hope to get a king of the hill map thrown in there for good measure. We're working on some more "world building" assets now so we can develop some more maps. Something I'm passionate about doing is adding more gametypes like I said before, race maps, CTF, tower defense, and other sorts of things.


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