Sonntag, 29. März 2009

Owen: Missions, bug hunting and 2.0

Hi everyone. This is Owen Lake (aka Xenon_Slayer), mission programmer for X3: Terran Conflict. I missed my chance to write for this blog during the initial development phase, so I’ve got some catching up to do. As you may have read in my interview in X-Universe News 35, I’ve been keeping myself busy with the latest update, 2.0. Well, where to start?

My main area of focus is on mission design and development, for both the plot and generic missions. In previous games such as X3: Reunion, these missions were programmed in the game code itself, a language called KC. Programming missions in KC gave the mission authors a great amount of freedom to do whatever they wanted, as every game function is a simple line away. Coding a mission directly into the game code has its drawbacks though. The only way to include a new mission is by recompiling the game, and distributing it with a patch, leaving community missions out in the cold unless they are accepted by EGOSOFT through the DEVNET. This system has given us some classics such as the Perseus Mission from X-Tension.

For X3: Terran Conflict, KC missions were dropped in favour of the Mission Director. The MD is a scripting tool, using XML files to store the mission itself, outside of KC. I started working with it back in 2006 along with several other volunteers. We tinkered around, making several missions and testing the MD functionality. I was not a programmer back then, and I found the MD was very easy to get my head around. Over the years, more functionality was added, giving us the jam packed MD we have today. All we needed then was mission content.

Several of us sat down to discuss what the plot of X3TC would be, including fellow mission programmer Al and X author, Helge. Many ideas were tossed around, such as exploring more about the Sohnen race. In the end, we decided on the 5 plots we currently have. I was assigned to code the Terran, HUB and HQ plots. The Terran plot was the most challenging as it was the main plot of the game and needed to carry the story along and immerse the player, while keeping the universe free and open. Most of the time, I would need to look though the list of MD ‘conditions’ just to refresh my memory of what the player could do to potentially break or exploit my mission. We really have so much freedom in X that different players may see or play the mission in entirely different ways.

We developed several small chunks of mission code which was designed to be re-usable. These ‘libraries’ are used in several parts of the plot and generic missions. The upcoming Aldrin Expansion mission in X3TC 2.0, uses these libraries extensively. The entire plot was coded very easily and within two months. The aim of the plot was to advance the Terran story further and present the player with several activities which they may not have done yet, not to mention show off some new content.

Much of the new content is obviously focused in the Aldrin region of the universe, which is very unique. The large asteroid in the centre of the sector separates stations to great distances. While the initial exploration phase is more extreme than any other in the X-Universe, it can become a chore to fly 300km from station to station. So, ‘how to solve a problem called Aldrin’. That is where Terran ingenuity (namely mine and Toasties) comes in. Using tractor beam technology, they have pulled several stations closer together. Then, using the Transorbital accelerators, they create easy, quick access between station groups.

The future of missions in X3TC is bright. We have several community missions on the script and modding forums, and a few in the pipeline for a future update. I have dived straight into the world of KC programming, adding new functionality to the MD or improving some UI. This is entirely new for me as I couldn’t really program anything this time last year. As well as adding new stuff, I have been able to do battle with my mortal enemies - Bugs!

I started testing far back in 2005, when X3: Reunion was in the Alpha phase. As we warn our betatesters, it isn’t all fun and games. Having a sneak peak at the new content is a bonus, but it is hard work to get results. Some bugs are easy to find and reproduce, but some only occur in very special, sometimes strange circumstances. A few weeks ago, we heard reports of “Zombie Hyperions”. Some ships seemed to have a mind of their own after being boarded and captured by the player. With a savegame someone had provided, I was able to see the ship was still assigned to patrol duty for the former owner. With the help of Klaus, we managed to “exorcise the demons”.

Other than the Aldrin Expansion mission in 2.0, mission development has taken a back seat for me, while I look after the rest of the game, keeping track of the bugs, organising the new text for translation and exploring the underlying code of X3. It has been a heck of an experience, but the danger was that as soon as I look at the code, playing the game would not be as much fun. While I still have not had time to play yet, I can’t wait until I do. There is so much in there that I can’t grasp it all or see it all. I’m still seeing ships during testing which I have not seen before! Just last week I saw my first Kha’ak invasion in X3TC; in the sector of Kingdom End, no less. That was fun to watch! ;-)

Mittwoch, 18. März 2009

Simon: Updating the Universe Trader for 2.0

Hi, this is SymTec ltd. from the X3TC scripting team. For X3TC, we had improved the Trade Command Software MK3 in many areas – it got the new “Local Trader” option to make the pilot trade in one area only, a special internal blacklist that would stop it from entering into really dangerous territory, and of course was prepared for the new Terran economy. However, after many players had worked with the UT in their actual games, they told us that things were sometimes not running as smoothly as they should. Apparently, the pilots you hired got rather lazy after a while – just hanging out at the stations’ pubs when the next trading opportunity was just a few stations away, or trading in Energy Cells when there were plenty of other wares around.

For 2.0, I took some time to look over the scripts responsible for the UT, and found ways to correct some of the misbehaviour that people had reported in the previous versions. Reading through hundreds of lines of debug logs, I found the cause of the pilots’ laziness: Trying to be clever, they first checked if the current station’s products could be sold with profit – if that was not the case, they ordered another beer before going on with checking the other stations, and of course forgot about their plans right the next second. I was able to talk the barkeepers into not serving any beverages to working trade pilots anymore, so that should be fixed.

Especially for Universe/Local Traders with a big jumprange, designing the algorithm that picks a good trade run is always a compromise between game performance and trade efficiency – of course, it is possible to check every possible trade route in the whole area and pick the best, but that is performance heavy. On the other side, just taking the first opportunity that the routine finds is very simple, but most likely won’t satisfy you either. The MK3 software uses a method in between those extremes: The routine picks the trading wares based on random numbers and with those wares tries to yield a certain profit; but the probability for each ware type can be closely adjusted. With the new version, I changed these settings: Less energy, more tech wares (for fighters) and bio wares (for freighters).

As you proceed in the game, you have more and more money available, but the universe is a dangerous place for expensive high-tech traders. Creating a fighter escort for your trader is not quite a good idea, because they tend to run out of fuel if the trader uses its jumpdrive a lot and then get killed in the attempt to catch up. One solution to the danger of transporting expensive wares was to use fighter craft for the job: They have a smaller cargo bay and a higher price, but are faster, better shielded and more dangerous to potential attackers than the TS freighters. Several people asked me why they couldn’t employ a Universe Trader on TM class ships – now they can! TM class ships can carry around their own little defence/distraction fleet, have a decent speed and cargobay size, great shielding and weaponry, and are still less expensive than many super freighters: A great new opportunity for the more dangerous areas of the X-Universe.

Donnerstag, 30. Oktober 2008

Bernd: Some reviews and a video

I have been saying some things about the reviewing process of our game in the past.

Even though it would be great if a reviewer would have to play through all campaigns of a game (and that would mean not just the Terran story in our case) before casting a judgment, this IS too much to ask. With our game this would definitely be a job that exceeds the time an average reviewer can spend on a game. Wouldn`t it be nice then if magazines could openly point out which percentage of the plot and possibly even which percentage of other sandbox features of the game, they really saw?

Anyway, here are two of the more recent reviews. They had the game for a longer time and HEY: They are coming to a nice conclusion, so I obviously have to like em too ;-)

This one is from IGN and THAT one from Gamesradar is even better.

Oh and I just found this little video on the internet where I was interviewed at GC in August (remember the pictures of the X Girl).

And yes it`s Lehahn with an "n" at the end ;-)

Cheers and have fun playing X3:Terran Conflict.


Freitag, 17. Oktober 2008

CBJ: Paintball

Hi everyone, CBJ here. If you've spent any time on the Egosoft forums then you probably already know as much as you want know to about me, but for those who don't I'm (in no particular order) a software developer, veteran space gamer from the original Elite on the BBC Micro generation, and big fan of pizzas.

I originally started work on this project way back before it had a name, designing and developing the new Mission Director system for creating missions. At the start of this year I was asked to lead the X³: Terran Conflict project through the final stages of the development process. Hm, now that I think about it, Bernd said something about needing to concentrate on other things - if visiting games conventions was what he was referring to then maybe I got a raw deal... Anyway, like any project there were some good times when things went smoothly and a few bad times when things looked like they might go horribly wrong, but we got there in the end and delivered the Gold Master to the publishers pretty much on schedule.

With the Gold Master finally out of the door we decided to take a day off work to relax and celebrate. Team members flew in to Egosoft HQ from all over the world lured by the opportunity to shoot at each other... with paint. A couple of chaps from Koch Media were even brave enough to join us, though one turned out to be a bit of a paintball pro and the other was clearly taking no risks as he wore full body painting overalls. Despite grey skies and intermittent rain, and the best attempts of SatNav technology to send us to the wrong place, there were skirmishes in the woods, running battles in the fields and heroic dashes to capture the flag. Some people got a bit carried away and tried to shoot their own teammates (yes, I'm looking at you BurnIt!) but fun was had by all:

After a light lunch there were more exciting activities, including trying not to injure anyone with a bow and arrow:

watching some of the less sane team members falling into a pond:

working out how many developers you can squeeze into a small space without causing a rift in the space-time continuum:

and passing the boss's wife through a hole in a net:

So, I expect you're wondering: with the game about to hit the stores and the release party over, what's next? Well, even though the Gold Master has been delivered, we're not quite through with X³: Terran Conflict yet. We've woken Owen up and he's been assigned the task of continuing to improve the game after release. In fact by the time you read this the first patch should be pretty much ready, bringing you things like an extra non-plot mission, some nice little UI enhancements, and a couple of new script commands for the more technically-minded to play with. As for me, I'm now working on *censored* and *censored* *censored*... Oh dear, the NDA censor just kicked in. I guess you'll just have to wait and see what Egosoft are cooking up for the future, but playing X³: Terran Conflict should keep you occupied in the meantime!

Samstag, 11. Oktober 2008

Bernd: Gamestarts and Campaigns

I feel I have to clear up a common misunderstanding on how the various campaigns in X3:Terran Conflict are presented. Many of the somewhat preliminary reviews that I have seen about the game so far seem to confuse gamestarts with campaigns.

X3TC lets you choose between many gamestarts. A gamestart throws you into the universe from a unique position. It changes the way you look at the universe by showing it from the perspective of a Paranid or a Terran military pilot, an Argon or other of the less frequently played species. It also means you will have completely different ships, weapons, race relations AND sometimes a few special missions to get into the game.

BUT (and thats the key information here): You can usually play all campaigns (we normally call them plots) of the game with all gamestarts. There are exceptions to this rule, but especially the gamestarts available to the player right from the start allow you to play all missions including all the main campaigns.

X3:Terran Conflict has one plot which is designed to start the game with. It is easier and a bit faster paced than the rest. This is the plot about the Terran system and you have to play it on the side of the Terran USC (military). Obviously this is easier to get into, when you start the game as a Terran military pilot. With most other gamestarts you have therefore "bridge missions" which you can pick up to get the right relation with the Terrans and get into this particular plot.

HOWEVER (and this is the second key information many reviewers miss): This game has a lot more unique mission content than just the Terran plot. There is a story that evolves around a special somewhat ancient construction built by the Terraformer for example. The german translator team mentioned this in their blog article and called it the "boron plot" (a term that I didn't hear before. We usually call it something else, but that name may spoil the story a bit, so I will from now on comply with the translator team ;)

So to put it into the language game reviewers love let me give you a nice tabular overview:

  • Gamestarts: 4 from start + more than 10 activated later
  • Campaigns: 5 each with unique rewards and full voice recordings.
  • PLUS: Special gamestart "bridge" missions, corporation specific missions and lots of generic missions.


Mittwoch, 8. Oktober 2008

German translators: Secrets

Hi, my name is Arvid Ihrig, you probably know me as Ogerboss from the forums and I was the deputy of the German translation team during the development of Terran Conflict. It was a lot of hard work and we had several sleepless nights, but both the English original and the German translation don't need to hide. TC contains lots of new features (many you should know already) and today we want to present you some yet not known features we encountered while translating all the stuff. My task was on the one hand a lot of organisational stuff, that means for example missing deadlines you didn't know, and on the other hand translating the texts for the scripts and some missions. Mentioning missions seems to be a good time to hand over the virtual keyboard of blog creation to Alex Vanderbilt, so let's see what he can tell you about the new missions.

    Hi, I am Alex Vanderbilt, one of the German translators. Some of you might know me as a "fanatic supporter" of the Paranid Empire and you are right. ^^^ Well, the X games fascinate me since X-Beyond the Frontier, a really interesting and challenging game because there were very few of the now common and vital ship extensions. But that made it as impressive as it was and still is.
    During the translations I was responsible for the mission texts and descriptions of the newly introduced Corporations, the Paranid and Teladi race variations as well as some other stuff, like sector descriptions.

    The new corporations are a very interesting matter, as they after all the first sign of true AI competition for the player trading empire and a step forward to an even more living and shifting economy in X. Corporations are no longer just empty hulls but they have their own and unique headquarters, own missions, separate ranking systems and many other surprises awaiting you. ;)
    The translation of the Paranid and Teladi Race Variations were deeply interesting work, sometimes challenging but also screamingly funny from time to time. Thereby, the Paranid were the most challenging part because I had to think like a Paranid, which is not as easy as you may think. It may sound funny to have the permission to insult the player at almost every text line, but if you do not want to use the same phrases again and again, you have to search desperately for alternatives to give variety to the text.

    One word about the jokey part of the translation. Sometimes I encountered text lines like the following quote: "Unholy One, I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle." - one of the sources of very funny and strange chat. The first thought was, as always, "What the hell did they smoke to use such phrases?" But after some chat and several laugh flashes later we have found a proper solution for all of these lines. In the end I enjoyed this part because I was able to give them a speech which is closer to the Paranid philosophy against other beings as ever before.

    However, the Teladi were not that hard. Because they are chasing after every single and lonely Credit and want to make profit at all costs, there was no need to use excessive amounts of different phrases. The only maxim was to be polite, attentive and a bit obtrusive to squeeze the maximum output of credits out of you. So, be aware of this if you start bartering with them. ;)

    The sector descriptions were also an interesting area to work at: Especially the new (or should I say old?) Terran Sectors were exciting, because I wanted to give them unique and exceptional translations wherever possible (but don't worry, the originals are also well done). It's no wonder because these sectors represent our own and precious sol system. I hope you enjoy them. :)

AV's mentioning of strange text lines produced by strange devs seems to be a good time for me to continue and telling you something about deadlines and fun while developing. You won't believe it, but asking a dev for a deadline sometimes can be a really funny. Here's a small quote from a chat log:

    Ogerboss wonders if there's a more precise deadline for the content control of the manual than "asap"...
    Silvio (Belisarius) : there never was
    Simon [SymTec] : should I write you a script that randomly creates a deadline for you?

Simon already told you something about his work with the Script Editor in his blog-entry, so I won't tell anything about it now. Instead of that I'll let stefanski tell you something about the improved Mission Director or rather the things that were created using this great tool and his part of the translation.

    Hi guys, "stefanski" is my name and I’m a X-Fan since the good old X-BTF - a very slow ship, just 100 Cr., no weapons and only one 1MW shield, yeah that was hard :-D but don’t scare, most game starts in TC are easier. But why do I write here in the TC Dev Blog?
    In the very early days of the development of TC I was one of the MD (Mission Director) guys who should write the Missions with this great tool. Unfortunately I had to stop my work at the project one year ago because of school (final year) and so there is little MD code in TC which was written by me. I think Owen will tell you more about the MD and so as a member of the German localization team I want to write a bit about translating TC into German and about things which will happen in the X-Universe beside the big Terran plot.

    Some times translating is a thing which makes a lot of fun and some times you just think ‘What by the great Oceans of Boron does this mean?’. Each language has its sayings which make absolutely no sense in an other language if you translate them word by word. For example if a German tourist says to you ‘That’s me sausage’ he is trying to tell you, that he doesn’t care about something. But back to topic!

    We translators had also a lot of fun, creating and discussing cool German names for the companies, new ships and especially for the new weapons. In the game descriptions you all will find some funny things e.g. why the company P.T.N.I. had to change its name. X-Fans who read Helge T. Kautz' books will find some persons and things of his books in TC, e.g. the JSDD (Jonferson Space Dynamics Division) from ‘Yoshiko’ or the little Split boy Fjuny t’Scct from ‘Nopileos’. You will meet this Split during a great Operation called ‘Final Fury’ against the Kha’ak, yes once again the player has to fight against these ugly insectoids. So all you Boron-hater and Split-friends out there, this is for you, fighting under the command of the Split in a great war with fighting-missions and the chance to earn honour!
    But don’t scare all you traders and thinkers ^^, there also will be a plot with trading, thinking and just a bit fighting, a plot about and with the Goners and a new temple. Ok so far so good, before I say cheers here just a few words about generic missions. YOU CAN... provide some people with new ships, build stations for your client, escort convoys, steal ships, find smugglers and so on...

    Cheers ^_^

You heard the guy, you shall obey the Splits' call to arms, but for this task you'll surely need some new weapons, if you wanna survive. Believe me, in dangerous sectors a bad weaponry will be as well a death sentence as missing deadlines...

    Ogerboss : deadline for retranslating (should be done in one or two hours)? (and please don't tell me "5 minutes ago")
    Stormsong : yesterday
    Ogerboss : ...

In this case I survived because Storm was only joking, but your enemies most likely aren't in a mood to joke, so let's ask enenra, if he can tell us something about the new weaponry in TC.

    Hi there, I'm enenra aka DSE. I'm part of the German localization team which means I was one of the guys who translated the texts from X3TC to German. As I was one of the translators for the XTended Mod, I was mainly in charge of the objects in TC, ranging from ships over wares to equipment because some of them have been inspired heavily by the XTM.

    But I don't want to tire you with these boring background informations as you read this blog to get new informations about X3TC, isn't it? That's why I'm going to tell you a little more about another new feature of TC which I recall hasn't been mentioned yet: The guns.
    The major change with the weapons is that there are no more "alpha", "beta" or "gamma" versions of one weapon. A PPC is now a PPC and does not have different models anymore. But don't fear! To compensate this, there will be a lot of new weapons, each one unique and some with some very special effects.

    In total there are now 32 different lasers and projectile weapons. Each faction has one or multiple new weapons to use: There are for example the pirates with their Plasma Burst Generator, a weapon which borrows heavily from fighter engine designs and essentially throws a large, fiery stream of plasma outwards, or the Paranids with their Tri-Beam Cannon - a weapon which combines three smaller beam weapons into a single larger, deadlier one. But there are as well weapons like the Teladian Gauss Cannon which uses up ammunition in form of ionised metallic slugs which are accelerated towards a target. With that, our greedy Teladi don't have to spend their money on better energy generators and can use it to make lots of profitsss!
    So as you can see, every race has developed new weapons in the last years, fitting with their philosophy of how to fight and adding to the variety of combat in X3: Terran Conflict.
    Oh, and one final hint: Believe me, you never want to get in the way of a Terran Point Singularity Projector...

Oh yeah, his final hint is really important if you wanna survive out there. Don't wonder if you see Gauss Cannons installed on many non Teladi ships, you know they sell everything. And don't think the Borons were lazy, they also developed new weapons, you'll now have some ion weapons made for capital ships in your weaponry. But enough about the guns, otherwise some people might think, that the whole game consists of fighting. So let's change the point of view and have a look at the peaceful parts of the game. I think it would be a good idea to give the blog creation keyboard to Cmdr. now, who's responsible for most Boron related texts.

    Hello X-Fans! I’m Carsten Baumfalk, also known as Cmdr., and I’m also one of the German translators for X3:Terran Conflict.
    Since my hobby is translating texts from English into German and vice versa, I translated an English interview for Barron and one day, when I didn’t expected it, Vassenego asked me whether I’d like to help translating X3:TC, so I joined the translation-team – I know, my history is boring, but I had no idea how to start a blog ;)
    Now, I’d like to tell you something about my task during the translation-process: My job during the translation was to translate the user-interface and nearly every Boron race variation, including a Boron plot (I’ll hit on it later).
    Due to the strange language of the Borons, the translation-process was a very funny experience because you may not expect sentences like “If you breech our peace, we will breach your hull!”. This was one of the trickiest sentences to translate because I couldn’t find a more suitable version than “Wenn Sie unseren Frieden brechen, müssen wir Ihre Hülle brechen!” – however, thanks to the help of the other translators, I was able to work around the sentence to let the Borons sound polite instead of aggressive.
    As the Borons received a lot of new texts - I’m sure you will find some interesting dialogues in the X-Universe.

    But now to the topic you probably have been waiting the entire blog-article for: the Boron plot. I’m sure you understand that I won’t tell you everything about the plot, as I don’t want to spoil it, but you will meet Humi Wi and Mahi Ma, two very talented assistants of the famous scientist Bala Gi, who are on the search for him. During your mission you’ll find a mighty ancient station with a special ability…

As you have seen so far you'll have a lot of new stuff to do and play with in TC. Sure some of you may wonder how to do all this stuff alone. But don't fear, we've worked hard to improve your communication possibilities with the rest of the universe, so that you shouldn't suffer the same communication problems we had:

    CBJ : please send the files to me *NOT* via email - I don't have access to it right now
    Ogerboss : everyone tells something different... btw: too late
    CBJ : a) I did post yesterday in the team chat that I wouldn't have access to email
    CBJ : b) if I don't import it then nobody will
    CBJ : c) send it to me via Skype anyway ;)
    Ogerboss : a) Yesterday I was drunken and/or sleeping :P
    Ogerboss : b) just followed the instructions from Bernd
    Ogerboss : c) already done :)
But before you have a chance to say that I'm only exaggerating, I'll hand on the blog creation keyboard to 4of25, who can tell more about this.

    My Job was the translation of several spoken parts into German language. You may think that´s not so funny like inventing cool new weapons or other fancy stuff. But you should agree, it is very important for the in-game atmosphere. Just the way the game feels like. I don`t want to bore you with things like how long it takes to switch details from English to German, and that sometimes something funny in the English original sounds not so good in the German version. I know what you want to know, waiting for the release of X3TC, when every minute seems to become an hour...
    In my mind I can hear you shout: "Hey, tell me about the cool new features of the game! Don`t be a boring Boron."

    New features, ok. If you ever have been in the [L3+] Ideas forum you would have seen several wishes about more direct interaction with the NPC ships. Now it has become reality. You don't need to dock to a station anymore in order to get a BBS job. That is now history. In X3TC you will get your jobs directly from the NPCs talking to you or sending a distress call when in danger. You will love it. It is much more realistic and makes you feel a part of the living and breathing x-universe. I think you`ll be very happy with this new amazing feature.
    Not enough news? Well, I give you one more hint. There will be a new flight tutorial integrated in the game. All new players will have a lot of fun. An experienced Split teacher helps them, making it easy and sometimes funny learning the fly and fight basics in the universe of X3TC. If you are an old X veteran, take my advice, give it a try, it´s worth it.

    Wishing you a lot of fun with X3TC
    Your 4of25

Other races of course also have their flight teachers, but you know, 4of25 is a little Split-fanatic. For this enhanced interaction system there's of course also a lot of new dialogues between the player and the NPC needed, so we'll continue directly with Belisarius, who was responsible for something, that's called "Generic Player Replies".

    Hi all! My name is Silvio Walther, but some or even most of you know me as Belisarius in the forum. The translation process for TC was hard for me, because I haven't had much time (was traveling through the country), so I'm only responsible for following crimes: Generic player replies - The answers you give the creatures which you contact at stations, ships and wherever else - and some of the lines you can read and hear during the various plots (Sorry if I don't tell you which, but it's yours to explore :P ). Sometimes it was nearly impossible for me to find the right translations for the English text lines. Why are you Englishmen using so complicated formulations sometimes? There are people who have to translate all those things. It was funny nevertheless. There were some phrases where I wondered about the strange humor you guys on the island have. I couldn't laugh about it, but I was laughing because I didn't understand your humor. Strange!

    Back to what I've done. As I began to translate some text lines I was wondering about the amount of text in this small file someone sent to me for translation. I remember opening a communication in X3:Reunion with a station or a ship I always got the same answers. Most of them were funny, but to be honest it was a bit annoying to hear and read always the same. Now in X3:Terran Conflict you can spam the guys on the docks with the biggest amount of texts you've ever seen. That's interaction how I love it. I tried to be as dramatic as I can for the German plot texts. Translating isn't that boring as some of you may think. To find the right translation you need to be aware of the context which means that I had to play some parts of the plot. I'd bet you think that was work of a few hours, because you remember the short plot line of X3:Reunion, but no! I spent days on playing the plot states which I needed to translate just for a few phrases. And again it became hard to do my job as a translator, because the plot was so fascinating. I always wanted to know what's coming next, but had to stop myself. You'll enjoy the plot and every single new feature the developers have done just for you.

    But I bet that my colleagues didn't tell anything about the beta test of the game. That was also exciting. I'm a really big fan of great graphics and motives, but when read that Terran Conflict will be based on the same graphic engine as Reunion, I thought that it can't give many new nice looking features. Well, I was wrong. As I looked the first time onto one of those giant Terran space installations I was so impressed and fascinated that I forgot for which reason I was in one of the Terran sectors. I just looked at the planets, stations and ships crossing my way. The details are so great... simply awesome. I know the X-series games since X2: The Threat and started my career as a normal forum user. It feels like it was yesterday when I asked my first question onto the forums. "Mega Probleme mit X2" - In English it simply means "Mega trouble with X2". The great help I've received from the users lead to the fact that I wanted to give back something to this great community. And with my contribution to X3: Terran Conflict I think I have fulfilled this wish.
    I'm done for now and I wish you all many impressive moments with the game :)

So you know now what awaits you in the normal, "vanilla" game, but be assured that the script editor has many new possibilities too. What? You want me to reveal some of them? Ok, you're lucky sometimes the office guys are a bit more generous with time than in this case:

    Ogerboss : if you don't tell me that the deadline was 5 minutes ago :D
    CBJ : no, I can give you at least 30 seconds ;)
    Ogerboss : :O Deal :D

First of all, there are some interface overhauls to make it easier to find the commands, for example all create commands have their own subcategory now instead of being spread over the whole category. But yeah, I know, you want to know more about the new possibilities, so let me tell you, that you have various new commands. You'll now have the possibility to sort arrays directly instead of using user-written libraries with limited sorting parameters or to change the camera of the player, including warping him to another ship and setting him into the turret you want. Cycrow and SymTec ltd. already told you about the main changes/enhancements of the SE, so there isn't much left to tell for me, but another command some of you scripters surely will love is the "show subtitle" command. The rest you'll discover yourself after the release, I won't reveal 'em all now.

And finally a short statement from Vassenego, our team leader (more he didn't say, maybe he wants to distance himself from us lunatics *g*):

    Sadly I hadn't as much time to contribute to the overall work as I would have liked to, but I had a good team making an outstanding job. I am sure you will enjoy the German version of the game.

So it's time to end this blog entry (now it's more a block entry), we hope you enjoyed reading it, and now let's wait until the game is released and then enjoy it. =)

Ogerboss & German translation team

Donnerstag, 25. September 2008

Markus: Solar System


My name is Markus Pohl, and I've been working on X3:TC as art director.
I've been working on the X series since X2: The Threat and my main work area is 3d graphics. this ranges from modelling/texturing, coordinating external teams to writing exporters & plugins for 3d studio max.

For X3:TC there were a lot of new art assets needed. the most obvious ones came with the integration of the solar system and its inhabitants to the universe. I've created the solar system planets & backgrounds for those. As some of you will surely notice, I've not always sticked to all the scientific facts, but (like in the case of Venus) let my imagination play in, too. some of the solar systems planets are a bit boring in reality - so I decided to interpret them more freely to get atmospheric sectors.

Though the best looking planets we have in the sol system were created by nature and I tried to stick as close to the originals as possible: jupiter and saturn.

One of the main restrictions for planet design was texture resolution. for normal X3 planets we use a technique to circumvent this limitation, but for large scale surfaces that feature lots of unique details (jupiter's stripes & red spot, mars' craters, plains & volcanos) only texture resolution helps.

The other big chunk of assets came in with the terrans themselves. Though we had already seen some of their ships in X3:Reunion, we obviously needed a lot more of them - as well as factories, stations and the famous ringstation around earth.

The ships are divided up into military ships and civil ships, so for some classes you will find mutliple ship designs.

Here are some M3 impressions:

and some stations

we decided to make the terrans bright, clean & huge. they were staying in their system for quite some time, afraid of the terraformers to return. so they have built up an impressive defence force with huge military stations, outposts and defence fleets, always ready to attack. just try flying to earth after beginning the game, you will surely meet them ;)

there is a lot to see & explore, I hope all of you enjoy playing it!