It's time for a development blog! Complaining ahead!
Hello internet, how is everyone doing today? Given the three month delay on updates, you'd be forgiven for thinking we'd all got too busy with real life to work on ol' Tiberian Odyssey. And while there's certainly the occasional grain of truth in that line of reasoning, it would be a grave error in judgement to mistake us for a corpse.
Since the last update, GDI's Firestorm generator has been added to the game not once but twice, Nod got a few bits and pieces of new unit art to fix some issues, the interior tileset leapt towards completion, the snow theatre got a few new assets, the process of creating a finalised main menu has begun, the AI rewrite is on the way to completion, and act 1 of both the GDI and Nod campaigns have continued to be worked on.
The Firestorm Generator was a bit of a bastard to get working. Not because the logics are all that complex - they're pretty much hardcoded in the engine so there's not much to do there - but because the Tiberian Sun engine was built by crazy people. Here is the F-Gen as I originally designed it:
A render of the TO Firestorm Generator, with Powerplant for scale.
Which is fine, and I was happy enough with it to animate it and convert all the required files into game-ready formats. Are you seeing the issue with the art yet? Because I didn't. The problem was that the foundation of the structure was 4x2. TS has a foundation defined for 2x2. It has one defined for 3x2 and for 2x3. It has one defined for 2x4. It does NOT have one defined for 4x2. A fact I only became aware of after finishing the art for the building.
So we were presented with a few choices:
1) Ignore the issue and try shuffling the building into a place on the canvas where it looks okay on a 3x2 foundation. This option was the easiest, but also the worst looking and generally the least desirable. But having spent so long on the art it was almost preferable to the other options which both just opened whole new cans of worms.
2) Rework the building to be only 3 tiles long. I didn't like that option because it would probably mean chopping out the middle region of the building, messing with the proportions, and making an already weird looking building look even weirder.
3) Flip the building, rework it slightly so that the shapes and shadows look okay, remake the animations, and re-render/re-convert everything to fit the 2x4 foundation which TS CAN use.
The Firestorm Generator in its natural habitat, powering some walls (the wall art wasn't fixed up yet).
This is a common set of options, since every graphic has the chance to have an unforseen issue from time to time. Usually it's not on such a fiddly and complex object, and usually the issue isn't as confusingly specific as this odd coding decision by the Westwood devs.
We went with option 3. It took a while, and I still prefer the appearance of the building in its original orientation, but it's probably worth it to have a structure which looks the part and doesn't have any clearly cut corners. It took hours of rebuilding and sadness, and at one point I decided that I was going to take a much deserved two week break from the whole modding debacle (I was back within half an hour).
Compared to all that, finishing up the Firestorm Walls was a breeze. It took a little bit of creative cutting and pasting, but we got there in the end. It's a huge load off my mind knowing that it's all finished.
Left: Firestorm walls running through a reclaimed area, protecting the GDI Air Scrubbers.
Right: A Firestorm Generator, mirrored and rebuilt to fit Tiberian Sun's weird engine.
On the Nod side of things, there have only been a few real changes. The late game aspects of Nod are still a little bit unfocused, with some questions remaining on how the tech tree should operate, the role of vein harvesting, and things like that. Nod's mid-late game bomber, the Viper, got a slightly updated look. Its size was increased to match the early game Harpy and the design was iterated upon to give it a more science-fiction-y, VTOL feel. The Banshee has been remodeled to be a bit bigger and more detailed, but maybe too much so - it'll be being shrunk down a little soon enough.
Nod's airforce now matches each other, and the wider Nod unit set. Since they move pretty fast even at the slower speeds, it's hard to adequately capture them in stills.
The Devil's Tongue got a much more complete overhaul. The flamethrowers were shifted to be more central on the unit, the armour was beefed up, the unit as a whole has been made significantly taller and larger to fit its late game slot, and the burrowing mechanisms have been totally replaced with a similarly blunt maw to the original (but composed of multiple drills rather than a pair of rollers). This helps to set it apart from the Subterranean APC which uses roughly the same design as Tiberian Sun, and makes it generally more imposing on the battlefield. it's a weird, slightly different design. I think that it still captures the essence of Tiberian Sun's pyromaniac shoebox though.
That is all I can fit into a single post without losing track, check back next time as we delve deep into the underground bunkers and facilities of Tiberian Odyssey, and perhaps explore the icy wastes too.
Also, I see it's MOTY time again. I'm not big on campaigning because Tiberian Odyssey is my hobby and I'm here to have fun, so vote or don't - I'm not your mother. Do what you like, have fun, happy modding!