Welcome to the 2nd part of our retrospective review of the release of 1.5. Below Twigs delves into the development of the hotfix patch and the new Singleplayer and Co-Op maps amongst other things, the article is also lavishly illustrated with shots from Strike at Parmel and several Co-Op maps showing the truly intense action to be had there.
Well Troopers, now that FSDev Talon has written up his thoughts on 1.5, it’s time for me to add mine. Grab your favourite beverage and settle in as I talk you through some of the changes that were made for the 1.5 hotfix.
I’d like to think Strike at Parmel has it’s fans. It’s a quick, no holds barred space map, where you choose your fighter and seek out the enemy. There were some issues though, the largest complaint was to do with the number of seeking missiles from A-Wings and TIE-Defenders, though bizarrely one of those that complained then went on to ask if we could add homing torpedoes to the X-Wings!
My first task then was to settle this issue, but it wasn’t as simple as merely changing the projectile numbers for the ships. Any changes made to the ship directly would affect other maps, and copying the craft to have two different versions would have added more to the mod increasing it’s size, only by a little though. In the end I was able to use a different method that changed both the number of missiles and the characteristics to the missiles using a method to create an edit in the maps control files. The result was to limit the number of missiles to 2, so you really need to think about when to release them!
How do I feel about the map now it’s out there though? Well, being biased of course, I love it! It’s a great illustration of how those early X-Wing games can translate across to First Strike. Get a few people on and it quickly begins to look a lot like a scene from the movies. The layout of the map focuses the action in a much tighter area than some other space maps, and the result is a whirlwind of ships jockeying for position and a light show that really impresses.
The second part of the hotfix focused on that most troublesome of maps, battle of Yavin. This was a map that many had looked forward to, recreating the Death Star trench run as closely as possible, it’s a must do for any Star Wars fan. Nvidia users experienced problems from day one though, low frame rates, graphical glitches or crashes were the result for them if they tried to join. The problem, said the majority, was caused by the icons for the deflector towers, but nothing appeared wrong with them when looking through the code or at the icons themselves.
I decided it was time to tackle the problem once and for all, if the icon is the problem then lets get rid of it. I needed a volunteer to test out my ideas though, I had never suffered from this dreaded bug. New Dev team member Benu_Kenobi quickly volunteered to be my guinea pig. We started by removing the icon code from the deflector towers, Benu started the game and jumped in and within moments reported that the issue still existed. After sending me a screenshot and also mentioning some other issues I wasn’t convinced it was anything to do with the towers. Instructing him to remove the towers altogether, he once again jumped in game and confirmed that the issue still existed. Checking some other items on the map, we went through a number of trials, reducing view distance on objects to see if cards were being overlooked, removing the exhaust trench icon etc, but still couldn’t find the root cause. Eventually I decided I’d had enough, it was late and I needed to get to sleep.
Benu decided to keep going alone. He did suffer from the glitch, and now that it was confirmed that it was neither the deflector towers 3d icon, or even related to the towers themselves, he was now determined to discover what was keeping him from enjoying this map. He removed items one by one until eventually he was left (and I’m not kidding!) with a black map with only fighters and turbolasers. The issue was still there, and by now he was beginning to think it was perhaps an invisible terrain problem, or a heightmap or something else. Tired, annoyed and angry, he tried one last thing and removed the turbolasers.
The map ran without a problem, shocked, he began to add in everything except the turbolasers. His words to me when he told me about it were, “my God, Yavin is beautiful!” The cause then was a 3d icon, but not for the deflector towers, but the turbolasers. We simply removed those icons and now the map can be enjoyed by everyone. I must say, I did chuckle when Benu was playing the map with the updated turbolaser code and said to me, “Oh my God! The exhaust port DOES have an icon!” It was just one of those things, with everyone so focused on the towers he’d never been told the trench had one.
So, with all that said, the other hotfix things were fairly minor. My own brief thoughts on 1.5? I think it’s done pretty well. A lot of minor issues were resolved, some new maps and of course the addition of Singleplayer and Co-Op. I do get a chuckle though when I hear people say the bots are too hard! Personally, my real favourite change is the Rebel fighters on yavin now shooting down TIE’s, it was a real bugbear of mine that the X’s and Y’s couldn’t fire lasers.
Now, some people will tell you I’ve done a lot of work in 1.5, and yes it’s true to some extent, but on the whole my job has been one of refinement or implementation. Much of the real work has been done by others like FSDev Benu, who really stuck with finding the Yavin bug, FSDev Restnpit who helped a great deal with some of the AI especially the X-Wing laser fire, and of course FSDev Dnamro who supplied all the Co-Op and Singleplayer maps. My role was more that of an apprentice, taking the work these guys produced and learning from it before finding ways to try and tweak that further.
There’s plenty more to come yet though folks. I have more plans for SP and Co-Op implementation and continue to work with Dnamro on that. We still have other minor issues to fix, but in order to do that we need players! Get on the servers, enjoy the mod and come tell us what you think could be done to help improve it. Until next time!