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!


Freitag, 19. September 2008

Klaus: UI development

Hi, I'm Klaus Meyer, one of the programmers at Egosoft, mainly involved in interface programming for X3: Terran Conflict. I've been a great fan of the X games since X: Beyond the Frontier, and started working for Egosoft in 2002, during the development of X2: The Threat. Almost at the same time I also started studying computer science, so my working times have been pretty irregular since then. Ironically, a few months ago I had to suspend my work on the user interface to take an exam on user interface design. But don't worry, that doesn't mean that the UI in Terran Conflict is only half-finished. ;)

The new UI concept that you can see in X3: Terran Conflict was designed by one of our artists, Christian Vogel, and implemented by Michael (aka BurnIt!) and myself. At first we were unsure if we should implement it since it's a radical change compared to X3: Reunion... but after all, X3: Terran Conflict is more than just an add-on, and the improvements over X3: Reunion are so enormous that we just had to try it.

In X3: Reunion there are three separate menu systems that have evolved over time: The big standard menus, the so-called quick menus at the bottom, and the icon menus in HUD and in the sector map. For X3: Terran Conflict the standard menu system has been overhauled and the rest has been replaced by the sidebar and context menus. You will also find that there is no such thing as a big "ship menu" or a "station menu" any more, which have been rather central menus in past X games. Now ships, stations, and other objects "only" have unified context menus, which allows for much quicker interaction.

Another important change is the new mouse control. You can steer your ship by pressing the left
mouse button in space and keeping it pressed while the ship turns towards the mouse cursor. This steering method is known from the game Freelancer and works very well - that way it's possible to play the game almost completely with the mouse: The scroll wheels adjust the ship's speed, and you fire your lasers with the right mouse button. The lasers will even fire towards the mouse cursor! But on the other hand, in this case you'll have to live without the Auto Aim feature. If you don't want to keep the left button pressed all the time, you can turn the cursor flight mode on and off permanently with the space bar. (Some playtesters prefer the scroll wheel button - of course you can customize the controls.)

It's still possible to disable the mouse cursor and steer the ship directly with the mouse as in earlier X games, this is what we call the classic mode. In this mode the left mouse button is also available for control mapping, in case you want to fire with the LMB.

I guess that many of you are just reading these lines in the hope of an answer to THE question: "Can I remove the sidebar?" This question pops up in many comments on in-game screenshots, so here's the answer: Yes if you play in classic mode, and optionally in cursor steering mode. Or if you disable all HUD elements for nice screenshots. You can still open the sidebar with the keyboard then - but if you play with a mouse cursor, it's always there so you can click on it. Just give it a try, it may be better than you thought.

Dienstag, 16. September 2008

Daniel: Teaser music

Hi there. I’m Daniel Finney and I’ve always been a fan of the X series, ever since X-Beyond The Frontier was first released back in the day. Hours upon hours of my childhood have been lost to trading energy cells in Seizewell, capturing Pirate Orinocos and basically flying around enjoying the view. One thing I’ve always loved more than anything else about the games however is the soundtrack. Every time I sit inside my ship, the music has me captivated and I can’t help but fall into it. I don’t know if this is just the way I am, being a musician at heart, but it is something that I have always felt. Luckily, I was a member of The X Universe forums about a year ago (where some of you may know me as Woffin) and helped contribute towards the Xtended mod with a few tracks of my own.

Then along came X3: Terran Conflict. The guys at Egosoft offered me this fantastic opportunity to be a part of something which has been such a big part of my life for so long. At short notice, I was drafted into the team not long after the project had begun and was immediately faced with writing the music for the Teaser video. I was told that this would have to be my best piece of the entire project (no pressure there!) as it would give all of you people your first glimpse at the game. I have fond memories of working with Martijn (Mishra) for this, as he was the guy who did the video side of it. We would spend night after night communicating with each other, sending various versions backwards and forwards between ourselves, fine-tuning everything you could possibly think of. We were initially aiming at a purely electronic sound and experimented with Bass, Drums, Synth and a few String parts as you can hear in one of our early mixes:

Click for first version.

Although decent, we weren’t satisfied and thought we would throw a few extra parts in there with some more percussion and some more orchestral instruments. Once again it sounded decent, but not quite enough. We both realised that only the best was good enough, so we singled out the orchestral parts, which you can have a listen to here:

Click for second version.

One night, Martijn appeared online out of nowhere and started shouting to me “Why don’t we try a guitar?!”. Good point Martijn. I’d never thought of using a guitar before because it’s not normally something you expect when you listen to X music as it’s mostly ambience, orchestral and synth parts. So out came the guitar and I put down a quick recording, mixed it down and sent it back over. “What do you think of this?” I said to him. It was at that moment that we both realised a guitar was exactly what we needed. Over the next few days (during which neither of us got any sleep!) and after many mixes and file transfers backwards and forwards, we’d refined the track and got it perfectly hooked up with the scenes in the video too:

Click for final version.

Simply put, no. That was only the start. Very shortly afterwards, Alexei and me were given our targets and our tasks, so we set off to work. While Alexei focused more on the plot and theme side of the soundtrack, I worked on the ambient tracks and general sector background music, with some of them also being used for the recent trailer videos too. What you can expect to hear on your travels in X3 Terran Conflict is more of the high quality work that you come to expect from these series of games, but with a slightly menacing twist. As you’ve probably discovered by now, the universe is on the brink of war and everywhere you go, conflict is ready to break out and this is what I aimed to achieve in the music. You’ll find that guitar from the trailer coming back to you in certain places but there’ll also be times when you should, very rightly so, feel isolated and alone and on the edge of your seat, waiting for that attack that could come at any moment. Then there’s the safe havens, the reclusive sectors, where you look around and just lose yourself in the vast and magnificent surroundings, where all of the violence and all of the troubles that face you seem to not matter any more.

All in all, you’ll have to keep your ears open when you’re exploring the many new areas that X3 Terran Conflict has to offer you. It may just be that it makes you feel like you’re really there.

Dienstag, 9. September 2008

Matt: Boarding crew and wings

Hi all X Fans, I’m Matt Gravestock and I’ve been working as a DevNet volunteer in X3: Terran Conflict, many of you most likely know me as Cycrow from the X-Universe Forums. I started my X days with X2 not long after it was released, before getting X3: Reunion on release day. I was also scripting and modding the game since X2, although mainly it was on X3 from when I first got the game, before eventually moving onto development for TC. The development has been very challenging, but also enjoyable, and we hope you enjoy the results.

I've been working on many features since joining the team just under a year ago, these include the Flight Wings system that has been briefly shown in the Trailer and the Boarding Crews that has also been mentioned.

The boarding crews are basically an extension to ship capturing, allowing you to acquire ships that are not usually capturable, i.e. larger capital class ships. The process is a lot more involved than simply capturing and requires you to buy and train marines that you can use to board a ship. The marines are trained in a variety of skills, each will be used in a different stage of the boarding, which includes cutting through the ship’s hull while the shields are down, fighting with any onboard marines and hacking the ships control computer. Marines can either be sent in space suits or using a special type of missile, a boarding pod, capable of carrying marines to the target ship.

Marines, especially their training can be expensive and time consuming, you can send marines to training centers to train up in the specialized skills, but they will also need to gain experience from boarding operations to increase their skill level. This means you cant simply board an M1 ship, you need to board smaller ships first so your marines gain enough experience to be able to board larger ships.

On a final note, for the scripter’s among you, there have been many exciting things added to the Script Engine, which should allow you to create even better scripts than before, one such ability is the creation of custom input menus allowing you to get better input from the user.

Mittwoch, 3. September 2008

Ivan: Writing dialogue

Originally we asked Owen Lake, the guy behind the Terran plotline and one of the mission programmers, to write a little article for the blog today.

Unfortunately he had to catch up on his sleep after some really stressful days, trying to kill plot bugs. So while he gets his well deserved rest, let me introduce Ivan Tefalco:

Hi I'm Ivan Tefalco. Over the years I've worked with Egosoft on a wide range of dialogue and text content for the X-Series, from race, trade and and combat ranks to Bret Sera's message from beyond the grave. From sector descriptions such as Presidents End in X3, to the NPC AI responses given by races when you communicate with them throughout your journey in the X Universe.

Each race has grown over time to have a very particular style and manner of response. For example, the Paranid excel at that 'holier than thou' attitude, while the Boron tend to be meek and at times subservient. With X3:TC, those styles have evolved in line with the timeframe each game is set within. Universal translators have improved to the point where there is some standardisation of speech, however this doesn't mean you won't find unique and varied content amongst the myriad of pilots out there flying around on their daily routines.

Both Pirate and existing races have had substantial in-flight content added to the already wide array of responses previously created in Reunion. If you dig deep enough, you will see nods to sci-fi cult classics, as well as replies to player contact that will draw you even deeper into a game that for many is very much a part of reality.

Without wishing to spoil many of the surprises out there, all I can ask is that you listen as well as look on your travels. When your hull's down to twenty percent and the Yaki on your tail decides you're too cute to kill, just remember, there's a great deal more out there than meets the eye.."


Samstag, 30. August 2008

Simon: Scripts, Outposts and more

Hello guys,

I’m Simon Schütz, and I’m also part of the X3TC developer team. In the egosoft forum and the DevChat, you might know me under the nickname SymTec ltd.. Regular visitors to the Egosoft Scripts and Modding forum will know me as a heart and soul scripter, always keen on extending the game’s possibilities with the powers of the game-internal script editor – and that’s what I’ve been doing ever since I started working on X3: Terran Conflict.

With all the new ship types, some of them with very special functionality, we needed scripts telling them what to do. If you command your missile frigate to fire a deadly array of missiles on your target, it will now use every single missile tube to bring death and destruction over your enemy, and at the same time show you the most beautiful fireworks in the known universe. In X3: Terran Conflict, missiles are more important than ever before – but to fire them, you first need to buy or produce them. To simplify the process, we created new resupply options and trade commands. You can now have every single one of your missile forges deliver their products to your personal equipment dock automatically, and use that dock to supply your whole fleet with cheap missiles. Or you just take a ship, install the new Resupply Command Software, and let the AI work out the rest. It’s all your choice.

However, new ship commands were not the only thing I took a close look at: I also made sure that the Flight Wings are not just a group of ships flying around together and doing the same thing, but work together as a unit that roams the universe to take out enemies. Be aware that members of the other races are profiting from new commands just as much as you do: The Military Outposts, big security installations with their own sector defence fleets, have full control over security in their systems. See their fighters patrol the area, respond to enemy threats over several sectors and punish illegal activity more than you would probably like. See the freighters build up and maintain their own supply chains, visible to you in one place, invisible in others. And watch the Terran economy closely if you can – they do some things different from what you’d expect… even after hours and hours of playing X3: Terran Conflict, you can still find something new, and that’s what makes the X-series so unique.


Freitag, 29. August 2008

The X Girl at GC Leipzig

Life as a game developer is tough ;-)

Well actually the show is not JUST about flirting with pretty girls unfortunately and so there are also a number of interviews and presentations I did at the show.

is actually a very bad quality video (in four parts) of the first presentation I had to do. Be warned this is in German! It was not as good as the later presentations where I had a bit more practice, but if you can stand the shaky camera have a look.

Donnerstag, 28. August 2008

THINK video now released.

These are the four keywords which stand for the freedom to do what you want inside the X Universe. So there will also be four trailer videos talking about the game features, one for each topic.

BUILD was already released a few weeks ago, and today we added THINK.

Here are the (low quality) Youtube versions, but to seriously watch them, please download the high quality XVID versions from under DOWNLOADS (also available are German localised versions!).

Think Trailer: English version

Build Trailer: English version

Dienstag, 26. August 2008

Alex about past and present

Hello folks,

my name is Alexander Preuss and I am a brand new staff member at Egosoft... well... in fact my career here started almost 13 years ago! That might sound a bit confusing, but let me explain:

I joined Egosoft in 1996 for the first time, and worked on a lot of 2D based advertising games as well as the adventure game Imperium Romanum. Until 2002 I worked on the Egosoft games X-Beyond the Frontier, X-tension, and X²-The Threat.
Imperium Romanum 1995

Intro XTension 2001, Intro X-Beyond the Frontier 1999

Unfortunately I left Egosoft in Mai 2002 because of family related issues. I went to the IT and
Internet business and spent most of my time in designing websites, artworks for magazines and a lot of uninteresting stuff which reminded me of how I missed working in the games industry.

During the past 3-4 years I was practicing a lot on 3D/2D artworks in my free time, and in 2005 I won the cgnetworks "Grand Space Opera" challenge with my artwork "The broken Armistice over Abalakin", and also some smaller follow up challenges.

Well... luckily and due to a chain of some funny events it happened that Bernd Lehahn and I met again... and... what should i say... I am back on board! :)

My first big Job here at Egosoft was to create the new Intro for X3 Terran Conflict. It is based on a concept by Helge Kautz and shows the line of events between the original Terraformer attack on Earth and the events which will lead to the new story.

Intro X3:Terran Conflict

Intro X3:Terran Conflict

I also worked on some of the new models which will appear in X3: Terran Conflict.

Some examples are a big Terraformer CPU Ship, a secret Terraformer object,
the Khaak Hive and the new Xenon station.

Finally I can say I am having a great time right now and doing all this cool stuff for X3TC is pure fun and it makes me proud to be a member of the Egosoft team again.