In Ensign-1 you play the role of a space fighter pilot returning from a deep space colonization mission. On arrival back to our own solar system, you find Earth has been colonized by a hostile alien force. It's now up to you, with the help of your mothership, the Ensign-1, to take it back Ensign-1 allows allows for complete freedom in approaching objectives. You can fight from the safety of your spacecraft, or land and exit to explore space stations and carriers on foot. You can commandeer any spacecraft in the game, no matter how big or how small. Defend an asteroid base, or take the fight to the enemy with a huge mothership, friends manning turrets, it's your choice. The game also features a multiplayer mode where players can explore a randomly generated galaxy, either fighting co-operatively to clean out enemy fighters, or battling each other for supremacy.

Forum Thread
Ensign modding (Games : Ensign-1 : Forum : General Discussion : Ensign modding) Locked
Thread Options
Aug 21 2012 Anchor

I'm currently exploring the possibility of making a spacecraft to play in with Ensign-1. I may not finish it, but my plan is to use this thread to ask questions publicly and share what I've learned so other modders will have a starting point. If this information already available, a link would be much appreciated!

So far, I've managed to successfully import an old model of a fantasy spider and display it in the game. It's using a minimally-altered configuration file from one of the enemy spacecraft, so it likely has many problems. I can blow it up, though! : )

The creators of the game seem to be using Wings3D to model their in-game assets. I managed to export from Blender, but some manual editing of the .mtl file was required. Here are the relevant parts of the export configuration. Not everything may be strictly necessary.

  • Selection Only turned on.
  • Include Normals turned on.
  • Triangulate turned on.
  • UVs turned on.
  • Write Materials turned on.
  • Objects as OBJ objects/groups both turned on.
  • Keep Vertex Order turned on.
  • Path mode: Strip path.

My model had a diffuse map and a normal map, both applied as separate textures on a single material. After exporting, I had to open the .mtl file and change map_Bump to map_Kn.

With this test complete, I believe my next step should be to construct a rough mockup of the interior and exterior based on some sketches I've done. This way I can get an idea of the scale and whether the ship is fun to walk through.

My problem is that I don't know the scale of objects, so it's difficult to model the rooms. Judging from the official assets I've looked at, the scale is different for spaceships and walkable levels. Does anyone know how this works? Are the units in meters? Feet? How high is the player?

I'd be grateful for any help.

Edited by: Clean3d

Aug 24 2012 Anchor

Wings3D is just what Rusty used, any standards compliant OBJ exporter should work.

I don't have the info documented anywhere, so thanks for doing this.

There is no scale in the game, models were just made and we went with that. Use the existing art assets as your reference.

Aug 24 2012 Anchor

Thanks for the reply, onionman! What about the camera height from the floor in first-person mode? Modders could extrapolate their scale from that, unless .obj files don't import at a consistent scale. If I can say so without being rude, a standard scale seems like it would be a huge convenience in a game like this...

So I worked on another old model today. Perhaps it's in poor taste to litter space with these things...

(Right-click & "view image" for full size.)

...but in space, no one can hear you ask why.

I had a little trouble with the export on this one. The .mtl file didn't have the texture names, and when I rotate the object in Ensign it doesn't rotate around the center of the model. Seems your object should be in the center of the Blender world when you export, but I haven't completely solved this yet.

Also of interest to modders: Blender won't copy your textures when you export the .obj to a custom directory. You'll need to do that yourself.

I grep'd around the /Models directory looking at the .mtl files. Looks like Ensign currently only supports a few of the material options available in the OBJ standard, so it would probably be useful to list those. Here's what appears to be supported so far:

  • illum modes 2 & 4
  • map_Kn (normal map) and map_Kd (diffuse map)
  • Kd (diffuse), Ks (specular highlights), Ns ( highlight brightness clamp), Ka (ambient)
  • Two others, Ke (emit?) and Ni (No idea) I didn't find information on.

Onionman, would you be interested in feature ideas for the editor/game? I know you're working on multiplayer currently, and I wouldn't expect that any of these things be added, but I've had a number of ideas from working in the game that I thought might be interesting. Mostly smaller things like gradual camera acceleration in the editor and remembering the last opened directory in the file-open dialog, but a few larger ideas as well. I'll try not to be too pushy or presumptuous! : )

Aug 25 2012 Anchor

You can certainly go ahead and make the suggestions. As for right now though, you're the only one using the editor, so I can only justify spending so much time on improving it.

If you keep up what you're doing I might go ahead and make the changes though.

Mar 7 2013 Anchor

As a prospective modder Ensign 1 seems to be a wonderful engine to make custom content for. But it's the chicken and the egg. Modders will come when you have more documentation for making such content, and you will add that documentation if there are more modders for Ensign1, and modders will come...Aaaaaugh! Looop!

May 7 2013 Anchor

Really, I felt it required very little effort to get content into Ensign 1. If I can do it, then it can't be too difficult. ; )

The main reasons I didn't/don't create new content are 1) I underestimated the amount of work needed to create a detailed ship interior/exterior, 2) Onionman ceased work on the project, and 3) lack of features and presence of technical issues.

I haven't actually played Ensign 1 since he made the (imho brilliant) change to a more sandbox-style game, but here's what I can remember from my experience: Normal maps had issues. The game occasionally crashed. There were confusingly long load times. Most importantly, though, there was no scripting interface (that I knew of). While the premise of the game captured my imagination, the execution felt half-done and I decided to focus my efforts elsewhere. I also believe the gameplay did not take advantage of its unique possibilities - it felt shallow in that the only thing to do was shoot enemies. (I didn't play through the entire campaign... maybe more came later on?)

Now, in no way do I fault Onionman. I know first-hand how difficult software development is, and I didn't report bugs or follow up in this forum thread. As part of the Ensign 1 community I failed my part.

Ensign 1 got a lot of things right. Using standard file formats, the idea that you could walk inside your spaceship... For whatever reason, I think it just failed to acquire the buzz necessary to fund further production. If Onionman ever decides to continue work on it, though, I will be watching excitedly!

(Disclaimer: Any knowledge of the situation behind Ensign 1's production is just speculation on my part, and opinions about its success are purely my own. I completely respect and appreciate the work done on it!)

May 7 2013 Anchor

Thank you for not faulting me

Oct 24 2013 Anchor

Clean3D, I came across the picture you posted in this thread of the space toilet and signed up so I could post and ask you if I could steal a copy of the picture. I have Crohn's Disease and there's many others with it online I post/chat/email with. It's a given with the disease, that we collect any unique toilet pictures we find and the one you made is way cool. I can have a lot of fun with it and probably even do things like drop a pic of Santa sitting on it and email it out as my XMas card. LOL.

I hope you are still watching here and see this. I prefer to get permission to steal a copy of the pic rather than just taking it. Thanks. :)

Reply to thread
click to sign in and post

Only registered members can share their thoughts. So come on! Join the community today (totally free - or sign in with your social account on the right) and join in the conversation.